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Treasures Along The Rail Archived Issues
Spring 1997
Spring 1997

Return to the Turn of a Century

Editorial and Prologue

A Salute To The Fayette Festival Association And A Thank You To Armstrong Cable

The tourism industry rests on two cornerstones as does most business. The first is infrastructure, which in this industry is complex but could be defined as those sites that are visitor ready, with easy access to proper amenities (Restuarants, Gas Stations, Motels, Shopping), or those that are in development as non-visitor ready, to be brought on-line at some future date. The second and equally important tenant is promotion which includes marketing and advertising.

The Laurel Highlands has been promoted since the early 1950's to visitors to enjoy its natural beauty and growing number of attractions. At first, local counties began the effort through various county-based not-for-profit Travel Promotion Agencies (State recognized for grant match). Fayette Festival Association is now celebrating its 50th year and until 1991, was Fayette's TPA. Currently, a three county area, Westmoreland, Somerset and Fayette, fund a regional Laurel Highlands Travel Promotion Agency with paid professional staff.

The attractions of the Laurel Highlands in the mountain area are well known, including Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, Fallingwater (and now Kentuck Knob), Whitewater Rafting which companies pioneered, Ohiopyle State Park, and Fort Necessity on the National Road, Route 40. In addition, the success of Seven Springs Ski Resort, Hidden Valley Ski Resort, and the presence of Idewild Amusement Park and Fort Ligonier has enhanced the allure for stays locally.

The area also is traversed by two nationally designated Federal parkways, Route 40 the National Road, surveyed by our first president, George Washington, and later funded by US Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Gallatin (his home at Friendhship Hill in Point Marion is a must see attraction) and most recently, Route 30, to articulate the Modern Transportation Story, this highway being the first four lane in the US. Both of these efforts are federally and state funded, with paid staff.

Finally, a seven county area has been designated to tell the story of Steel Industry Heritage, through a Corporation formed for this purpose. This agency is a grant solicitor for infrastructure.

However, as is always the case in a story, there is another story. The ridges and low-land areas adorning the Laurel Highlands (known as Fay-West) should have developed destination tourism years ago. It wasn't due to a lack of identity by way of a theme, a lack of proper promotion and inter-commercial support, including networking with the local downtown districts.

Until recently no advocacy concept was organized to designate the area for federal money, or to compete for infrastructure grants. No paid professional staff exists to successfully interface with the technocrats driving the tourism effort.

Once again, a rejuvenated Fayette Festival Association, with President Gladys Lee Powell at the helm, recognized the need for a new beginning and through her support and modest grant, the genesis of the "Return to the Turn of a Century" project was made possible. This prologue serves as an overview of a new and different effort by our local citizens to build a destination tourism industry in Fay-West, and this time to do it right, through self-reliance in a grass roots driven organized community effort. One which our hard working forefathers in the mines, coke fields, and mills would appreciate.

A key component of this concept and magazine was the development of a map of color for the back page. As an example of community effort, Armstrong Cable generously came forward and made that possible for this year's issues.

Our area just recently suffered continously job losses. The loss of over 100 jobs at the Anchor Hocking Glass Plant, and the shut down of activity across numerous towns by McCroy's 5 & 10, including their first store at Scottdale, "The Highlanders" home town, bring a sense of urgency. In addition, the DEP of this state is dismantling all coke ovens, (due to their toxicity - but we would like to save a few), and most of our heavy industry is gone or decaying. As Princess Lea in Star Wars might have said: "Tourism (Obi Wan) may be our last hope-"

About the Organization of the Rest of the Magazine

The remaining section is an effort to clearly describe for travelers how to visit and enjoy our "Century" area. Where possible we have cross referenced through ad placement, amenities with downtown areas and attractions, so that phone numbers, schedules, locations, and little known but interesting information is available. Each edition hopefully will see improvement. There are a number of valuable coupons in the magazine, read the ads closely. Watch also for the various festivals and events.

For subscriptions, its 8 dollars for 3 editions, send check and address to James H. DeOre & Associates, 116 Breakneck Road, Connellsville, PA 15425.

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