WQED’s The Great Ride premiered in March 2018 with an exploration of one of America’s most treasured biking destinations. The documentary and accompanying online vignettes covered the entire 335-miles of the Great Allegheny Passage (Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh) and C&O Canal Towpath (Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD). Now in national distribution through the American Public Television network, the 2018 documentary was also recognized with a Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Award.
This year, WQED takes a closer look at 12 landmarks and points of interest adjacent to or near the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) with a series of two-to-three-minute digital video shorts at www.wqed.org/ride beginning August 19 with “The Pump House.”
Below is the lineup of digital video shorts and posting dates at www.wqed.org/ride:
The Pump House (GAP mile marker 139.5)
Release Date: August 19, 2021
Located at one of the GAP’s busiest trailheads in Munhall, PA, the area includes the original building-turned-museum which housed plumbing that pulled water from the Monongahela River used in steelmaking at the Homestead works. It's also the site of a historically significant and violent steelworker uprising in 1892.
Ohiopyle (GAP mile marker 71.9)
Release Date: August 26, 2021
Extremely popular with bikers, hikers and tourists, the state park in Fayette County, PA offers beautiful scenery and opportunities for many outdoor activities in and around the Youghiogheny River: whitewater rafting, fishing, and hiking.
Dravo Cemetery (GAP mile marker 122.6)
Release Date: September 2, 2021
Six miles upriver from Boston in Allegheny County, this old cemetery in Elizabeth Township contains the graves of soldiers dating back to the Civil War. It’s another “must see” for bikers on the GAP, and local legend says it's haunted.
Whitsett (GAP mile marker 104.1)
Release Date: September 9, 2021
This former "coal patch" town in Fayette County is located steps from the GAP Trail. The houses were built by the coal company for the families of men who worked the mines. The village is a good example of communities that were built and owned by the coal companies that dotted western Pennsylvania in the early 1900s.
Youghiogheny River Lake (GAP mile marker 61.4)
Release Date: September 16, 2021
The flood control reservoir in southwestern Pennsylvania and western Maryland has become a tourist attraction and popular fishing spot. The lake was formed in 1944 by damming the Youghiogheny River upstream from Confluence, PA.
Where Kennywood Coasters Meet the Trail (GAP mile marker 140.5)
Release Date: September 23, 2021
The GAP runs right past the historic West Mifflin amusement park that dates to 1899. Cyclists and hikers get an up-close look as the park’s roller coasters roar over a hillside that plunges towards the trail and the Monongahela River.
Cumberland Mule Statue (GAP mile marker 0)
Release Date: September 30, 2021
The bronze statue honors the families who lived and worked on the boats that carried coal up and down the C&O Canal. The statue depicts a mule that pulled the boat and a young boy who led the mule. It marks the eastern terminus/starting point of the GAP Trail at mile zero in Cumberland, MD.
Mason and Dixon Line (GAP mile marker 20.5)
Release Date: October 7, 2021
The GAP Trail cuts right through the line which formed the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, demarcating the North from the South. Five miles north of Frostburg, MD, this popular photo op is marked with a clever series of concrete blocks and a pillar monument.
Eastern Continental Divide (GAP mile marker 23.7)
Release Date: October 14, 2021
Known as a hydrographic, or drainage divide, it marks the point that separates U.S. waters flowing to the Atlantic Ocean from those flowing to the Gulf of Mexico. A mosaic at the site near Deal, PA provides colorful art, while a small underpass/tunnel offers cool, welcoming relief on hot days
Frostburg Trailhead (GAP mile marker 15.5)
Release Date: October 21, 2021
The town of Frostburg, Maryland lies up a steep hill from the trail. The trailhead is known for its switchback bike path, which gives cyclists a less-strenuous zigzag route to the town and the opportunity to admire unique sculptures along the way.
Dead Man's Hollow (GAP mile marker 129.2)
Release Date: October 28, 2021
This 450-acre conservation area sits along the GAP just south of McKeesport and is considered by some to be among the most haunted places in Pennsylvania. The Hollow was the site of a 19th century quarry and, later, a pipe factory. Since then, the area has conjured legends of murder, drownings, and untimely deaths.
Winter in Cedar Creek Park (GAP mile marker 110.3)
Release Date: November 4, 2021
Except for the Big Savage Tunnel, the GAP trail is open year-round, including winter months. It’s a time many hikers and cross-country skiers enjoy the quieter, snowy scene on the trail as it cuts through a favorite park along the Youghiogheny River in Westmoreland County, PA.
Digital shorts in the series will be released every week from August 19 through November 4. The videos will also be compiled into a one-hour broadcast documentary to air on WQED in spring 2022.
“We had an enthusiastic response to The Great Ride TV documentary and digital shorts in 2018, so we wanted to highlight some of the other fascinating sites along the trail,” said David Solomon, Vice President of Local Production and Programming. “The GAP Trail is a treasure in our region, and WQED is proud to document and showcase its international appeal. There’s a lot to see.”
WQED’s companion website for the project at www.wqed.org/ride will include the 12 new digital videos along with those produced during the 2018 project. Educational assets will accompany the online videos beginning August 20, 2021
A Brief Background on The Great Allegheny Passage
From mile marker zero in Cumberland, MD, the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage crosses splendorous valleys, snakes around mountains, running alongside three rivers (the Casselman, Youghiogheny, and Monongahela) on its nearly level trail of former railroad lines. Cyclists pass through the Cumberland Narrows, cross the Mason-Dixon Line, breeze through the Big Savage Tunnel and top the Eastern Continental Divide at 2,392 feet. They weave through the lush Laurel Highlands, pedal next to the roiling white water of Ohiopyle State Park, journey through western Pennsylvania's mining and steel-making corridor - to end at Pittsburgh’s majestic Point State Park.
The Great Ride is made possible with funding from the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation. Additional support is provided by Pro Bike + Run, Golden Triangle Bike Rental, and Maryland Office of Tourism.
WQED was an experiment in educational community-supported television that was the forerunner to PBS. Today, WQED is a multimedia powerhouse that is as much a part of Pittsburgh as the three rivers. WQED is WQED-TV (PBS); WQED World; WQED Create; WQED Showcase; WQED PBS KIDS Channel; Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; the Pittsburgh Concert Channel at WQED-HD2 (89.3-2FM) and online at www.wqed.org/fm; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (www.wqed.org) and WQED Education (www.wqed.org/edu).