This week I met an old friend for lunch and he suggested we dine at Luke and Mike's Front Porch Grille in Aspinwall, Pa. Always up for a new restaurant, especially one that is unique and not a chain, I readily agreed. When I arrived I could not believe my eyes - the restaurant looked exactly like a turn-of-the-century train station! It turns out, this hunch was correct. During lunch the owner, Bill Rice, came over to chat with us and told us about the building's history. It had once been the train station for Aspinwall, but was moved by horses to its present location at Commercial and Eastern Avenues in 1901 (not sure why it was no longer useful as a train station - some research is needed). The PRR (now NS) Conemaugh Division, which follows the Allegheny River northeast out of Pittsburgh, is just a block away (I was able to see a passing train of covered hoppers by straining my neck and looking down Eastern Avenue). The restaurant gets its name from Bill's two sons. It would be neat if they played up the building's former role as a train station a bit, perhaps with some railroad artifacts, but it is still a very pleasant atmosphere with lots of green plants and blooming flowers.
The restaurant is open M-F for lunch and dinner, and on Saturdays for dinner only. It is BYOB. More information and menus are available on their web site: http://www.frontporchgrille.com/ This was a great find and is certainly worth a try, even if just to see the station building!
July brought us two more NS Heritage locomotives (in addition to the Nickel Plate sighting in Latrobe mentioned in the previous blog post). Charlie has now seen all twenty; I still need to see the New York Central.
Charlie and I attended the NMRA National Convention, our first national, in Cleveland, OH several weeks ago. There was so much to see and do, it is hard to know where to start. Charlie had been asked by Tony Koester and Pete Magoun at last year's MCR regional in Dayton if he would present a clinic this year on creating a website for your model railroad. He agreed and did a great job. I also offered to give two clinics I had given in the past; one on track geometry and the other on streetscapes. In all, there were around 250 clinics offered from Sunday evening through Saturday morning! They ran from 9 am through 9:30 pm every day - a hard pace to keep up for an entire week. In addition, there were many bus tours to see layouts, local industries, prototype railroads and historical sites. Over 1,100 people attended the convention, including quite a few modelers from Australia, Canada and Great Britain. Here are just a few of the highlights.
All day Wednesday and Thursday, vendors and many modular layouts were setting up in the convention center exhibit hall. We eagerly awaited the opening of the show, where vendors announce their new products, on Friday morning.
I was not anticipating the many, many modular layouts that traveled to the train show. They left no doubt that modules are a serious venture requiring all the skills and imagination that larger layouts utilize.
Of course these two urban street scenes really grabbed my attention - awesome modeling!
Last Sunday we enjoyed a visit from my brother and his wife and we decided to have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, DiSalvo's Station in Latrobe. We are fortunate in the Pittsburgh area to have four former train stations that have been repurposed as restaurants. In addition to DiSalvo's, there is the Grand Concourse in the former P&LE station in Pittsburgh, The Supper Club at the Greensburg Train Station, and Tarentum Station in Tarentum on the NS Conemaugh Division.