February News along the Great Allegheny Passage

Whether it's sunny or grey, the GAP is a great place to explore the outdoors.  It's made possible by volunteers from end to end.  Plan your trip with TrailGuide, and get out there this winter.

From Mill Worker to Trail Volunteer: Native Son Roy Bires Gives Back    
Fifty years ago, Roy Bires worked tirelessly for McKeesport's National Tube Company, rolling red-hot ingots into cylinders in the shadow of trains and cranes along the Monongahela River.  It was unforgiving work, with temperatures reaching 2,800 degrees in nearby pits.  Today, the only rolling Roy does is on two wheels, riding the Great Allegheny Passage which traverses right where National Tube once employed 10,000 people.  And he serves with the Steel Valley Trail Council, a group of willing volunteers who keep the GAP clear and open from West Homestead to Duquesne, Pa.  While volunteering, Roy recently got into a tight spot by crawling into the middle of a 24" drainpipe to clean out the hardened clay that had accumulated and was blocking proper drainage and risking a washout.  "It was probably the first time in 35 years that anyone had cleaned that drain," he observed.

Growing up in McKeesport under the eye of six uncles and two grandfathers who worked in the mills, Roy was unfazed by hard work, but did put a lot of miles on his Sears three-speed.  These days, he supervises the building of fences along the GAP near Kennywood, cuts back vegetation, and removes debris between Sandcastle and the Riverton Bridge.  When Roy's daughters were young, he and his wife used to drive out to Ohiopyle to get family rides in.  Today, he rides the GAP in his own backyard, often with his daughters and his four grandchildren (see photo above).  Want to serve with Roy and ask him about his decades in the Steel Valley?  Volunteer with the Steel Valley Trail Council, or donate to support their work on the GAP.

Thaw Your Wallet for IceCycle This Sunday

This Sunday, February 23, Friends of the Riverfront's board members, staff, and new Executive Director, Kelsey Ripper will tackle a 30-mile ride on Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Heritage Trail, including a loop on on the Great Allegheny Passage out to the Hays eagle nest viewing area near mile marker 143.  Please consider sponsoring a rider with your donation so that Friends can continue to make all of Pittsburgh's trails clean, safe, and accessible. 

New Sculpture Installed Near Pump House

The Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area welcomed Yellow Dog, a newly-installed sculpture along the Great Allegheny Passage in Homestead, built to honor steelworkers past and present.  Built collaboratively by sculptor Jim West and students at George Junior Republic, Yellow Dog depicts both the silence and rise of the collective voice of laborers as they fought for equity.  It's adjacent to the Pump House, one of the remaining structures from the 1892 Battle of Homestead.

Summer Date Set for 2020 GAP Relay

Get your group signed up for this year's 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage Relay!  Sponsored by UPMC Health Plan and operated by P3R, this team running event is scheduled for June 19-20, 2020, starting in Pittsburgh and ending with a party in Cumberland, Md.

Find out more at

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