November 20, 2014

11 Facts About Loyalhanna Creek in Southwestern PA



Bridge spans Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe, PA

Bridge spans Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe, PA

Loyalhanna Creek is nominated for 2015 River of the Year.

You can make it happen by voting before December 15, 2014.

Vote here.

Help Loyalhanna Creek beat out the Ohio River, the Neshaminy Creek and Watershed,

Conewango Creek, and the Lackawanna River.

Winner receives a $10,000 grant to promote the creek

through various programs and events throughout the coming year.

For more information contact Angela Vitkoski at

Westmoreland County’s Loyalhanna Creek isn’t the nearest trout stream to metropolitan Pittsburgh, but the volume, breadth, minimal overhang, variety of water types and abundance of stocked trout through the Loyalhanna Gorge has made it a invaluable classroom for countless Southwestern Pennsylvania anglers. The natural beauty of Westmoreland County and the water flowing gracefully down Loyalhanna Creek attract people from near and far.^^^^

As one would expect, the Loyalhanna Creek does hold some secrets. There’s one particular boulder — I won’t tell you where — that for decades has remained undercut by the current. Even in the summer when Loyalhanna Creek is low and the water warms, big trout find comfort at the edge of the current a yard or more under the protection of the rock, picking off any Wooly Bugger that passes.^

Below is a quiz to test your knowledge of the Loyalhanna Creek.

Sam Sherry of Wilpen, PA with Bigfeet

Sam Sherry of Wilpen, PA with Bigfeet


  1. What was the original 18th century name of Loyalhanna Creek and what did it mean?
  2. What is the Loyalhanna Creek?
  3. Where is the Loyalhanna Creek located and where does it originate?
  4. The Kiskiminetas River results from the confluence of the Loyalhanna creek and what other waterway? Where does this confluence occur?
  5. What unique siting was made along Loyalhanna Creek on May 17, 1987, and who made it?
  6. What part of the Loyalhanna Creek is stocked with fish each spring?
  7. What is the elevation of the mouth of the Loyalhanna Creek?
  8. When is the Loyalhanna Creek classified as a river?
  9. The Loyalhanna Creek Watershed encompasses how many square miles and how many miles of miles of stream?
  10. Why was the Conemaugh River green, and the Loyalhanna Creek usually orange?


Name the 6 sections of the Loyalhanna Creek, and the mileage of each.

To check (or learn) the answers click on MORE


December 27, 2011

Memories of Connellsville, Pennsylvania



     It was a hot and muggy day…and so the weather was on the July day we moved to Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

     My husband Monte always insisted moving himself, using a rented van. When he backed up to the front porch to unload the van, he accidentally ran the tires over the neighbor’s grassy patch between the sidewalk and the street. The irate woman approached him, calming down some when he said he would repair the damage. As time went on, we developed a pretty good friendship.

     Meanwhile, the neighbor across the street, Tom, and his son Jared, helped Monte unload the truck. The neighorliness struck me positively after a difficult move.

     Over time our friendships on that block of West Washington Avenue grew strong. Eventually the neighbors across the street joined with us to sponsor a (more…)

December 2, 2010

Sun, Moon, Stars, Planets—I Want Them All



     While I was sorting pictures yesterday I came across some taken atop Laurel Mountain (Pennsylvania).  My husband Monte had just participated in a peace event, Walk for a Nuclear-Free Future (Feb. 13-May 1, 2010). He had climbed Laurel Mountain—I had driven up to Laurel Mountain Summit, elevation 2684 feet, to wait for him.

     When he arrived I did my normal thing—took pictures. Following his pictures were those of an older woman, whom I assumed had reached the summit with Monte.

     Upon further examination I realized the old lady beside the sign was none other than me.

     I don’t remember getting older…when did I?

     Last week Monte asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Several days later I found an answer in a news story about a woman who now “owns the sun.”  The big orange ball in the sky that has been present since the beginning of time now belongs to Angeles Duran of Salvaterra do Mino, Spain, who claims she registered the star with a notary public (according to the news agency Agence France-Presse).

     “I think I want a piece of sun real estate,” I told Monte. “Could you contact Angeles and see if (more…)

March 14, 2010

Earthquakes in (Southwestern) Pennsylvania



     Pennsylvania: the Quaker state.

     Earthquakes shaking Southwestern Pennsylvania? Is this the source of its second most common nickname, the Quaker State?

     One of the above statements is true: earthquakes do occur in Southwestern Pennsylvania. However, the nickname “Quaker State” originates from the fact that the state’s founder, William Penn, belonged to a religious sect known as Quakers.

     Although earthquakes occur far less frequently in Southwestern Pennsylvania than they do in California, they do occur. Forty-five earthquakes have been recorded in Pennsylvania since 1900,*** some originating in the east, others in the west.

     Eastern originating earthquakes include (more…)

March 9, 2010

Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania: Quaint



     Kraft Singles American Cheese and Disney ABC have partnered to find the best community in the United States.

     “Every American has something about their town that makes them proud to call it home, and the great thing is Americans all have a different perspective on what makes their town so special,” says Clayton Wai-Poi, senior brand manager for KRAFT Singles. Contest judges will be looking for the one-of-a-kind features that make American communities unique.

     I considered entering until I learned that entries were taken by text or cell phone—whatever, none of which I am savvy enough to use. But the idea challenged me to write something about my community.

     The judging was based on three criteria: 60% for originality in describing what makes the town unique; 25% for inspiring others to visit the Town, and 15% for a photo that best showcases the Town.

     I pondered my community, Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania, tucked into the Laurel Ridge foothills at the bottom of Laurel Mountain Borough. What one-of-a-kind feature makes this community unique.

     Quaintness…the single most frequent word used to describe Laurel Mountain Borough, a small community in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

     How does a resident get this point across in a short description, stated with originality, that will inspire others to visit the community?

     First, one must understand what quaintness is. Dictionaries offer three definitions. First, charmingly (more…)

February 6, 2010

The snow came softly and gently: Feb. 5, 2010



February 5, 2010

       Today will be a great day to sit at my laptop on my porch, looking out at a winter wonderland, working on a short story and my novel.

     Thursday, February 4, wasn’t like this. It was a beautiful day that invited me to be outdoors. The snows of the earlier series of precipitation had virtually disappeared in the Ligonier valley area of Pennsylvania, but in my little corner of the world remnants remained. The sun that sparkled off these remnants cast s (more…)

January 29, 2010

Groundhogs and Punxsutawney Phil



     Don’t be surprised when the neighborhood groundhogs (doesn’t every neighborhood have one, two, three or four?)—thought long gone in the late fall, their burrows far too close to the house, backfilled—suddenly awake, emerge and begin foraging for fuel.

     Yes, all the signs are here—it will be an early spring.#

     However, the official word on whether it will be an early spring will not be made by the observations of Colin McNickle, journalist, but by Punxsutawney Phil. On Groundhog Day.

(To view illustration click on: )


Read the 2015 article: Groundhog Day Recipes & Pictures

NOTICE: As of January 15, 2015, CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS has moved to Carolyn’s Online Magazine. I invite you to visit the new site and to subscribe in the FOLLOW box in the upper right hand corner.

Additional reading: 11 Facts About Groundhog’s Day (Feb. 2)


     The sixth century. That’s how far back the roots of the Groundhog Day celebration extend.

     Groundhog Day is associated with Christianity’s Candlemas Day, the day that candles used throughout the year are blessed. It is the mid-point of winter, the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

     Groundhog Day as a modern event was inspired by an old Scottish couplet:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear

There’ll be two winters in the year.**

      Later, the Germans started trying to predict how much more winter they could expect based on the hibernation patterns of bears in February. In the 1700s, when the Germans settled in the United States, they switched from bears to groundhogs, for some unknown reason* After all, groundhogs have no interest in how long winter lasts, nor are they any interest in their shadows. Basically, they come out of hibernation for food (by February, hibernating groundhogs have lost up to half their body weight) and sex.  **

A clue might be found in the (more…)

January 26, 2010

Hats Make a Statement



If hats were bats, her closet would be a cave…

But hats are not bats, so what are the stats? 

A Twitter by Dmitri written for Carolyn

     I reached the intersection at the Greensburg (PA) Courthouse. There was a green light but no traffic. I hesitated, wanting to proceed across the road, but pedestrians can only legally cross the street when the white hand, a “permission to walk” light, was lit. I debated whether I should cross, “against the law.” And I recalled a ticket I received in Washington, D. C. once. It was a street divided by a cement island, and I didn’t realize that if the light changed, the pedestrian was to stop on the island until it turned green again. I hurriedly continued crossing, and was tagged by a police officer.

     I decided to wait for the walk light. Just then, a “young” man in a business suit reached the corner and stopped. He seemed familiar with the intersection. He noted my indecision and laughed before he informed me that he usually crosses Greensburg streets if there is no traffic, even without the walk light, but he waited at this intersection, because it could be hazardous—drivers weren’t considerate with pedestrians.

     Just then, a car rolled up to the corner, the driver’s blinker indicating his intention to turn right. But instead of continuing, he stopped and waved us across. 

     “That never happens,” the young man said, shaking his head in amazement and surprise.

     “But perhaps it’s the magic of a woman wearing (more…)

January 25, 2010

Update on the Rector and Export Post Office Suspensions



     NOTE: Below is the January 13, 2010, updated information on the Postal Regulatory Commission’s public inquiry, Docket No. P12010-1.

     Two Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, communities are experiencing a problem common to many communities across our country: the suspension of local United States Postal Services. Both the Rector Post Office and the Export Post Office were closed when their building landlords refused to renew the Postal Service lease.

     Rector’s post office was located in a front room of a private home on Rt. 381 for 107 ½ years before it closed on August 27, 2005. The current owner of the house, Ida Ankney Tenney, was unwilling to sign the required twenty-year lease. By signing the lease, the post office facility would remain on the premises even if the family decided to sell the home.

     Export’s Kennedy Avenue postal facility closed its doors on June 26, 2008, after the owner of the building in which it was located decided not to negotiate a new lease. Arthur Spagnol, who owned the building since 1962, claimed it was too expensive to make the renovations the Postal Service wanted.

     Betty Eichler, a retired postmaster involved with the national group, maintains that post offices can be closed only in the case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster.

     “It’s not right what they’re doing. The Postal Service, in order to get around the law, temporarily suspends an office,” Eichler said. “The people have no rights. There’s nobody they can appeal to. … All I want to do is make them do it the right way.”

     Export’s case has garnered national attention.

(To read the complete story, click on:

Post Office Closings in Rector and Export, Pennsylvania, Mirror a Larger Postal Service Problem

 Or )

      On November 9 the Postal Regulatory Commission in Washington initiated a (more…)

January 12, 2010

January Catalogues Lead to June Gardens



January: Mail Order Gardening Month

      January 2010.

     A time to cozy up on a comfortable sofa, encased in a favorite blanket. A time to  drink a favorite warm beverage—coffee, tea, hot chocolate—and delve into your stack of unread books while watching the snow fall and blow.

     A time to heat your home to the temperature you were complaining about last summer. A time to whine about the constant and excessive snowfalls, the bitter cold wintry weather.

     A time to yearn for warmer days of 2010.

     In that vein, you gather the daily mail, filled with gardening catalogues, and begin to dream about (more…)

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