Western Pennsylvania Tour➤
My friend Patty and I hit the road in October of 2022 for a tour of the Western Pennsylvania NPS units. The National Parks of Western Pennsylvania (WEPA) includes the following five parks: Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Flight 93 National Memorial, Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Friendship Hill National Historic Site.
We decided to start the circuit at the southernmost unit, Friendship Hill, and work our way North. Along the way we also toured a Frank Lloyd Wright UNESCO Heritage Site and Ohiopyle State Park.
Friendship Hill National Historic Site➤
Friendship Hill was the home of Albert Gallatin. Who was Albert Gallatin? Before visiting the site, we’d never heard of him. The park’s website bills him as “America’s Forgotten Founding Father.”
Gallatin came to America from Switzerland in 1780 as an itinerant surveyor. He worked in real estate speculation in western Pennsylvania and Virginia. He purchased the property that became Friendship Hill in 1786.
He served as the voice of moderation during the Whiskey Rebellion, supporting peaceful activism to repeal the law. He became quite popular in the local farming community which couldn’t afford the whiskey tax. His neighbors elected him to the House of Representatives in the 1790s. This began decades of public service.
President Jefferson chose Gallatin as his Secretary of the Treasury. Gallatin continued in the role under James Madison. During his twelve year tenure, he cut the national debt in half and financed the Louisiana Purchase. Later, as a foreign ambassador, he helped negotiate the treaty to end the War of 1812.
Gallatin’s first wife Sophia died only 5 months after they were married. His second wife Hannah was not fond of country living. She and the children went with Gallatin to the capitol and then to Europe during his ambassadorship. After so much time away from the estate he loved, Gallatin sold it and settled in New York.
We entered the house when the park opened in the morning. After speaking to the ranger about the park, we took the self-guided tour of the different additions. We then watched two short films about Gallatin’s life and the history of the house.
Back outside, we walked along the ridge above the Monongahela River. As the path wound down the hill into the woods, we found what is thought to be the grave of Sophia Gallatin.
Western PA Posts➤
- Friendship Hill
- Fort Necessity
- Mount Washington Tavern
- Flight 93
- Flight 93 Tower
- Johnstown Flood
- Allegheny Portage
Location: 223 New Geneva Road, Point Marion, PA 15474
Designation: National Historic Site
Date designated/established: November 10, 1978
Date of my visit: October 9, 2022