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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
              Friday, October 26 2001 

The Valley's future in tourism

My work these past five or six weeks on the hundreds of new pages recounting my trip with son Michael through England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in August often turns my thinking back to our Cambria County as a tourist destination, and I have developed at least several new or at least previously unpublished observations on that, a topic that I've written on for around 40 years.

Already in the early 1960's there was a strong feeling among some county and city of Johnstown leaders that tourism not only has great potential for the area because of the area's wealth of historical lore and points of interest, spectacular scenery, and the pride of the people in their Allegheny mountains "almost heaven," but it's the one and perhaps the only "growth industry" the area has left to exploit. It's the one thing and perhaps the only thing that is unique to the Allegheny Highlands. That's not to say that other places can't and don't compete—every place has its history, its lore, and its boosters. But even if we have to compete with the whole world, we have a lot of assets to develop and nurture in that cause.

An ironic observation is that declining population and curtailment of heavy industry helps improve the already abundant natural beauty of the area. Though Nanty Glo and Vintondale and Twin Rocks were more exciting and in a sense pulsing with life when they were "bustin' at the gills" by people everywhere, now that there are fewer people, fewer houses, more open spaces and vacant lots (as long as they're being tended, and most of them are) these make for a more aesthetically pleasing effect. This is also helped by the fact that most of the houses have been greatly enhanced over the years by good siding, porches, lawns, landscaping, and other accouterments.

Remember when a drive to Johnstown after dark was like descending into hell? Not that I had a negative opinion of our fair city, but in my youth the whole Connemaugh Valley literally glowed in the light of the steel plants and the burning gasses that were released into the atmosphere. Smoke and soot bellowed from smokestacks by the tons, then sank to the hillsides and everything that was clinging to those hillsides, making for little incentive to beautify houses and yards that would be ashen again in a few days after any improvements.

So, although the loss of the heavy industry is a curse and a tragedy, for tourism it's a blessing and boon. It makes face-lifting practical at last, and it has been taking place now for at least two decades.

Do you think of mowing your lawn or residing your house as contributing to the local economic growth and restabilization? What else could you do (either as a resident or as an "expatriate" like myself whose gift is offering advice from afar) to help boost the local tourist industry? What can and should our towns preserve, and what should they tear down and plow under in terms of bringing people to visit and spend money?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

You dirty rat

A tourist walks into a curio shop in San Francisco. Looking around at the exotica, he notices a very lifelike, life-sized bronze statue of a rat. It has no price tag, but is so striking he decides he must have it. He took it to the owner: "How much for the bronze rat?"

"Twelve dollars for the rat, one hundred dollars for the story," said the owner.

The tourist gave the man twelve dollars. "I'll just take the rat, you can keep the story."

As he walked down the street carrying his bronze rat, he noticed that a few real rats had crawled out of the alleys and sewers and began following him down the street. This was disconcerting; he began walking faster. But within a couple blocks, the herd of rats behind him had grown to hundreds, and they began squealing.

He began to trot toward the Bay, looking around to see that the rats now numbered in the millions, and were squealing and! coming toward him faster and faster. Concerned, even scared, he ran to the edge of the Bay and threw the bronze rat as far out into the Bay as he could.

Amazingly, the millions of rats all jumped into the Bay after it, and were all drowned. The man walked back to the curio shop. "Ah ha," said the owner, "you have come back for the story?"

"No," said the man, "I came back to see if you have a bronze politician?"

Sent by Bill Dalrymple

Thought for the day

To judge anything spiritual by statistics is to judge by another than scriptural judgment. It is to admit the validity of externalism and to deny the value our Lord places upon the soul as over against the body. It is to mistake the old creation for the new and to confuse things eternal with things temporal.

—A. W. Tozer
Sent by Jim Martin

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