The other day I drove down to Pinellas Park Fl to buy some scenery stuff for the Christmas layout. I purchased what I needed and then shortly after leaving I drove past the new location of H&R Trains and Toys Inc.  So, what the heck.  I stopped in to have a look around and as I was leaving I noticed their backdrops on display above and behind the checkout counter.  One in particular caught my eye. It was titled "Small Town" and made by Realistic Backgrounds.  What caught my eye was this.  It was a photograph of the town near Pittsburgh where I was born and raised and further, the house where we lived when I was born was included in the backdrop.  The store owner and I were photographed outside the store with me holding the poster and pointing to my old home. I don't intend to use it on the layout. I've already begun machining a frame for it to be placed on the wall in my study.

Posing with the owner

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Alfred E Neuman posted:

Amazing.  Is the house where you lived still standing?

What, me worry?

No, it was razed several years ago.  We actually moved from that house in 1952 to another house one street below and a few blocks south.  It still stands and was bought back by my sister in 1999.  She still lives there.  Unfortunately that home is not quite visible in the backdrop although a small portion of the street is.

Norm posted:

Pennsyterry,

Being a local guy,would you mind telling me where that photo was taken?  Which town?

Very interesting photo and story.

Norm

 

Hi Norm.  The town is Wilmerding Pa. just east of Pittsburgh in the Turtle Creek valley.  It can be called an old railroad town, being the home of Westinghouse Airbrake Company

I bought eight of these panels about twenty years ago in a So. California hobby shop for a panorama behind our family room layout. No idea of  scene location until a guest spotted the downtown skyline portion and said “that’s Pittsburgh!” I later turned an extra panel over and sure enough, it indicated Duquesne Quick Copy, Inc., Pittsburgh. Visitors invariably ask either “did you take those (don’t I wish)?, or “are those real locations.” 

Your panel is in the most prominent place, and it means a great deal more to me now that I’ve read of someone who actually lived there. Neat to know the precise house (lower right hand corner?). Hard to tell even with the computer screen fully enlarged.

Richard

OddIsHeRU posted:

I bought eight of these panels about twenty years ago in a So. California hobby shop for a panorama behind our family room layout. No idea of  scene location until a guest spotted the downtown skyline portion and said “that’s Pittsburgh!” I later turned an extra panel over and sure enough, it indicated Duquesne Quick Copy, Inc., Pittsburgh. Visitors invariably ask either “did you take those (don’t I wish)?, or “are those real locations.” 

Your panel is in the most prominent place, and it means a great deal more to me now that I’ve read of someone who actually lived there. Neat to know the precise house (lower right hand corner?). Hard to tell even with the computer screen fully enlarged.

Yeah it's on the lower right.  I took seven photos of the panel. Photo seven is attached

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jim sutter posted:

I went to their website and brought up some pictures. They had one of Brownsville, Ohio. It reminded me of Brownsville PA. It showed two bridges over a body of water.  

Wow, I lived in Brownsville as well....once upon a time when coal mining/steel was still going strong.

Are you familiar with Brownsville?

Great find and this is from a Pittsburgh kid(Southside) left in 1962 moved to South Florida and moved back to PA in 1990. 

Rick

PRRT&HS #8473

N&W HS  #5825

State College, PA

"And the sons of Pullman Porters, and the sons of Engineers

   Ride their father's magic carpet made of steel"

    "This train got the disappearing railroad blues"

 

Norm posted:

I thought that the town was in the valley.  My dad worked at WABCO for 42 years!

Norm

Interesting. I guess you would figure that my dad worked there as well. he did and retired in 1978 after 44 years, similar to your dad.  Have you purchased the George Westinghouse boxcar?

Terry, what a fun filled bit of urban archeology. By the power of Google Maps with its street level and aerial photographic views, you can take a virtual stroll down Sprague Street and view the houses remaining on the uphill side as of September, 2018. Those houses look to be the second row up in your photo. The lower row of houses on the downhill side of Sprague seem gone. Were most or all of them razed along with yours?  It would be neat to know when the photo used for the backdrop was actually taken as some of those houses could theoretically go back as far as the 1890’s.

Richard

Richard, what irony!  I did just that on Google earth and you're right.   Sprague is up above that row of houses. I could easily see the retaining wall at the bottom of the steps to those Sprague houses. Our old house was razed because the hill let loose and apparently damaged it beyond repair.  This happened long after I left the area.

We moved to Caldwell in 1951 or 1952 and yes, the Caldwell house was built in 1890. Hardly anything on Caldwell is visible in the poster that I bought.

Most of those homes in the lower row on the far right were pretty much abandoned by the early sixties.  I vividly recall one burning down in the mid 60's. I can't recall the name of the street but remember that it was easy to access by going under the old trolley viaduct.

Are you from the area?

Terry, interesting to read of the soil instability downhill of Sprague Street. While Turtle Creek looks benign enough, the thought had crossed my mind that Wilmerding “valley” might well have had its own Johnstown episode at one time.

I’m a lifelong Southern Californian, but remember fondly when my wife and I drove from Chicago to York in 2000 and 2002. We found Pennsylvania so very beautiful. Out here, we’ve only recently begun to appreciate the rich architectural heritage in our older structures.

Richard

OddIsHeRU posted:

Terry, interesting to read of the soil instability downhill of Sprague Street. While Turtle Creek looks benign enough, the thought had crossed my mind that Wilmerding “valley” might well have had its own Johnstown episode at one time.

I’m a lifelong Southern Californian, but remember fondly when my wife and I drove from Chicago to York in 2000 and 2002. We found Pennsylvania so very beautiful. Out here, we’ve only recently begun to appreciate the rich architectural heritage in our older structures.

Sorry Richard but I did a poor job explaining the soil issue.  The slough was on the west or uphill side of our former house on Sprague and was apparently localized near that house. The other homes on Sprague are still standing.

I have no idea why the homes below Sprague Street were condemned.  That Street is St. Joseph's but I'm just not certain that was always the name.  I've asked my sister to research it.

There  are some beautiful structures in that town.  First and foremost the Westinghouse Castle which was the general headquarters of WABCO.  It has been purchased and plans are to make it a boutique hotel. There are also the old churches on the south side of the creek, namely the First Methodist, The Lutheran and Presbyterian churches.  Growing up there it seemed like the town was bars, funeral homes and churches.  A typical small factory town I suppose

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