Broad Ford Winters
Written & Compiled by K. R. Overholt Critchfield, 3-8-2008

"A. Overholt & Company Distillery, Broad Ford, PA"
Photograph by Hubert Riedman, January 1978

Frozen Hush of Winter

Broad Ford and the Youghiogheny River are inhospitable in the winter, but photos reveal the stark beauty of an untamed landscape. Naked trees and icy weather team up to chill your eyes and bones, and numbs your mind. Everything is cold, and your frosty breath curls around your muffled ears. The crunch under your boots is ice or snow, except on the rainy days that come through, whenever the temperature permits. It is a season of all things biting, bitter and bleak -- the cold-hearted time of the year. And nothing is more cold than abandoned buildings, freezing on the outside, arctic on the inside. Mortality sings a mornful song.

Broad Ford's Youghiogheny River

Allen Anthony grew up around Broad Ford, and still has family living nearby. On April 2, 2004, he sent me a jpeg of the photograph above, taken by a passenger in his canoe as they "paddled from Connellsville to Dawson in the middle of winter." It had been "a bit treacherous going down the Yough in January with ice in the river and on the shoreline."

Describing the scene, he wrote, "You will notice in the middle far left, the remains of the Swinging Bridge across the river. This was a suspension foot bridge built to allow Overholt employees who lived on the west side of the river in the village of Adelaide to commute back and forth (walk) to work. Many of my mother's work buddies were ladies who lived in Adelaide. Also notice the trees and ice line on the river just preceeding (upstream from) the bridge. They appear to be the west bank of the river, but they are not. They are actually on the west bank of an island that sits directly across from the main part of the distillery . . . Many times since my mother passed away, I have wished she were here to say something to or to ask questions. She could have told you just about everything you wanted to know about that distillery. It was right in her backyard for 37 years. I know she was proud to have worked there."

Detail: A. Overholt & Company Distillery, Broad Ford, PA
Photograph by Hubert Riedman, January 1978

History in Black & White

In February of 2007, Geocacher JimBat wrote to say he found two pictures at the Connellsville historical society, located in the Carnegie Library in Connellsville. "I looked through all their photo albums and these were the only two pictures I found of the distillery. The librarian scanned the photos for me and then sent them to my e-mail. I was just up at the old swinging bridge the other day. There are still cables hanging from the piers stretching across the river. I was on the opposite side of the river from the distillery. There is a set of old iron steps on this side that go up over the hill. I was told by a local that there are five houses on the hill and some of the bosses and a chemist used to live in them . . . I'm trying to find more pictures of the bridge, preferably a side view . . . I was planning on hiding a geocache across the river from the distillery and need info and pics of the distillery and bridge to include on the page."

The two old photographs are featured below. For the result of JimBat's research, see the companion article, Broad Ford Geocacher.

"Broad Ford Winter" - date unknown
Photograph from Connellsville Area Historical Society

"Broad Ford Footbridge" - date unknown
Photograph from Connellsville Area Historical Society

Brian Krummel's Forgotten Bridge

Brian J. Krummel is the owner and president of Iziks Interactive, Inc. (see URLs below), a “Pittsburgh-based creative company specializing in interactive web applications and designs that are as unique as our corporate name.” Along with being a web programmer-developer and web designer, Brian is building a reputation as the Southside Shutterbug, the photographer who exhibits his Forgotten Pittsburgh Collections in local galleries. Done in stark black and white, this ongoing work of photographic art lays bare the effects of abandonment on buildings and technology. Quoting his web site, "The ruins of factories and churches, steel mills and mines, theaters and asylums lay dormant as forgotten roots of bygone days. The icons of our heritage are being quickly razed and redeveloped. Each overgrown and disremembered location will soon be a faded memory of a strong industrial and cultural history. The Forgotten Pittsburgh series examines the past, present, and temporariness of landmarks in Pittsburgh and its surrounding neighborhoods. This visual essay is a photographic journal that traverses the abandoned, fenced and forgotten, subterranean, and decayed areas that once defined this great city. The black and white images chronicle the urban exploration of the rot and the rust of these crumbling buildings; analyze the deserted hulks never revisited; or speculate purpose for remaining ominous machinery that once served a definitive purpose."

Among Brian's recently published photos, I found one he took of the Broad Ford swinging bridge in the dead of winter. It appears here with his permission.

"The Youghiogheny in Winter: Ruined Bridge at Broad Ford"
Photograph by Brian J. Krummel, Southside Shutterbug, 1-30-2007

Iziks Interactive, Inc.

Forgotten Pittsburgh

The URL above is the front page. At the far right, you will find the link for the photos in the Forgotten Pittsburgh Series, currently totalling 26 sets.

Forgotten Pittsburgh Collections

At the bottom of this web page, you will find an Old Milwaukee Light icon representing 16 photos of the "Ironside Distillery" that you simply must see.  (A rose by any other name is still a rose!) Best viewed as a slideshow, you may wish to turn up the brightness of your screen to get all the details. And remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, so read them and weep!

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