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Ohiopyle and Vicinity

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From the Native American “ohiopehhele,” which means “white, frothy water,” Ohiopyle was laid out in 1868 as the town of Pile Falls by Andrew Stewart, whose family held the land formed by a large loop in the Youghiogheny River. As it rounds the curve, the river drops ninety feet in less than two miles. It was hoped that the area could be developed for its hydraulic power, but its steep banks and turbulent rapids prevented the large-scale industrial development that occurred farther north. During the 1850s, the falls powered small mills for flour, tanning, and lumber; one of the mills manufactured barrel staves. A post office opened in 1856, and the first hotel opened in 1858 near the gristmill. Following the opening of the Pittsburgh, Washington and Baltimore Railroad (later the Baltimore and Ohio [B&O]) in 1871, Stewart opened a hotel in his large farm building, naming it Ohio Pile House. Subsequently, four more hotels and several frame houses were built, and in 1880, the town was renamed Falls City. The borough was renamed Ohiopyle in 1891 to avoid confusion with another Falls City stop on the rail line. During this time, the B&O shipped lumber and other wood products from the surrounding farms and lumber camps. The simple frame train station built in this era remains as a visitor information center (c. 1880; 7 Sheridan Street).

The Ohiopyle United Methodist Church, built in 1893 for a congregation that was formed in 1840, is a white frame cross-gable church with Queen Anne windows (691 Mill Run Road). A square tower with a spire marks the entrance, which is similar to white frame Methodist churches in Greene County.

Since 1971, the area has been a trailhead for hiking paths that cross several state parks, including Ferncliff Park, Keister Park at Cucumber Falls, and Ohiopyle State Park, covering 18,719 acres. Enthusiasts of whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, and nature trails enjoy the rushing rapids, waterfalls, picturesque rocks, wooded valleys and gorges, and rhododendron thickets in the summer months.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.

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