Broad Ford Geocacher
Written & Compiled by K. R. Overholt Critchfield, 3-8-2008
Photographs by Geocacher "JimBat"

"Broad Ford Swinging Bridge Support System"
Photograph by Geocacher "JimBat," 5-28-2007

Living Green

By the end of May along the Youghiogheny River, the pale jades of early spring are deep greens now. Summer Solstice is only three weeks away! Foliage has grown in abundance and melded so well together that, at a distance, it is hard to see where individual trees or bushes begin or end. It is a time of living green, before the heat of full summer takes all the fun out of it. Mornings along the river may still begin with a curtain of mist, blurring the details for a while, until burned off by the sun. It is a great time of year for geocaching!

Old Overholt Distillery Swinging Bridge Cache

In an e-mail dated December 28, 2006, a query came to me asking about the swinging bridge at Broad Ford. Did I have any pictures of the bridge? "Also," wrote Jim, "on the other side of the river from the bridge, there used to be steps that went up over the hill. I think they led to three houses on top of the hill on the other side of the river. Did these houses have anything to do with the distillery?"

Writing back, I shared the few details others had shared with me. In essence, the Swinging Bridge that used to be close to the A. Overholt & Company Distillery spanned the Youghiogheny River from Adelaide to Broad Ford. It had been used by distillery employees, allowing them to walk to and from work. At some point in the past, it had become dismantled, but the supports for the bridge could be seen in the aerial photo found on my web site. Then I added, "If anybody sends me a photo of the swinging bridge, I will publish it asap. Therefore, you may wish to check back from time to time to see if such a photo shows up. Regarding the houses, according to the information appearing in my newest feature, Sons & Grandsons of Westmoreland County, Jacob S. Overholt built some houses at Broad Ford when he was building up the distillery there."

Imagine my delight when Jim provided pictures! First, he sent me jpegs of two old black and white pictures from the Connellsville Area Historical Society (shown in the companion article, Broad Ford Winters). Shortly thereafter, my Internet friend Jeffrey Antol wrote to direct me to JimBat's latest geocache web page, which featured the Broad Ford Swinging Bridge (see URL below). The page features some photos and text from the HABS/HAER document originally published on my GeoCities web site, but also includes a link to his own photos. The pictures on this page are from JimBat's gallery, and at his request, are credited to his geocaching name.

Close-up 1: Broad Ford Swinging Bridge Support System
Photograph by Geocacher "JimBat," 6-19-2007

"Approaching the Swinging Bridge"
Photograph by Geocacher "JimBat," 6-19-2007

Close-up 2: Broad Ford Swinging Bridge Support System
Photograph by Geocacher "JimBat," 5-29-2007

"Broad Ford on the Banks of the Youghiogheny River"
Photograph by Geocacher "JimBat," 5-28-2007

"Misty Morning on the Banks of the Youghiogheny River"
Photograph by Geocacher "JimBat," 6-19-2007

Geocaching -- A Short Introduction

Geocachers appreciate the outdoors and enjoy hunting for treasures like geocoins and travel bugs, which come in all shapes and sizes and can be trackable. Many will drive to a location, others prefer a hike or a bike ride, but they all take pleasure in a healthy trek along a path less traveled. Call it what you will -- hobby, sport, or obsession -- folks have christened it family-friendly. Think of it as scouting for the whole family, but instead of earning merit badges, geocachers collect trinkets and photographs of their excursions. Even more, the whole family (even the family dog) can get some good hiking exercise in the surrounding countryside. But the cityscape is not forgotten! I did a search for cache sites in and around the city of Pittsburgh, and found an impressive number, most of them easily accessible, and certainly enough to keep a fledgling busy for a good while. Searching by my zip code, 1793 cache sites appeared. I clicked on Seek a Cache to find something close by. In a 5-mile radius from my home, 111 records came up; in a 10 mile radius, 300 records came up.

If you are interested in doing some geocaching yourself, check out web sites like, or learn more about the sport at Geocacher University (see URLs below). Geocaching 101 will teach you the basics of the hunt, and Geocaching 201 will teach you "the art of the hide." You may need portable food and water, a backpack with a flashlight and first-aid kit, along with other tracking gear. You definitely need a good camera, in order to snap a shot of yourself grinning upon finding the cache, and you might want the latest mapping software for your Palm OS and Pocket PC. It is true that the seriously obsessed geocacher can end up spending serious money on this otherwise simple nature trail activity. Besides the trackables and other trinkets you need to buy for the trades, you will have to choose between the high-tech, handheld GPS receiver, or the low-tech compass. Do not forget to check out the high-tech compass!

Geocaching: The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site

Geocacher University

JimBat's Old Overholt Distillery Swinging Bridge Cache

JimBat's web page about this cache includes all the information you will need to find it. Farther down the page, you will find the "Logged Visits" (currently at 55), where you can click on "Visit the Gallery" and see 24 images. The second page of this 2-page gallery is horizontally elongated, and reprises the photos from my GeoCities web site that appear in JimBat's presentation. Additionally, if you take the time to explore, you will find an extensive gallery of photos JimBat has posted showing his trips far and wide to locate or plant caches. To date, he has planted four.

My thanks to JimBat for featuring the Broad Ford Overholt Distillery site, for allowing me to use a few of his photographs, and for introducing me to this really great sport!

See the second page in this series, Broad Ford Autumn.

End of Page . . . Return to the first page of Karen's Branches.