Plenty of Legendary Characters from W. Pa some myth others from real life.

If you ever spent any time around Pittsburgh you more than likely heard the legends about people like Joe Magarac the mighty Steel Worker  who saved the steel industry  and Mike Fink the King of the Keel Boaters  and Johnny Apple Seed.
As I drive thru the town of Braddock past USS Edgar Thompson Plant there is a statue to  Joe Magarac The Legendary Steel Worker who could bend railroad rails with his bare hands and  allowed himself to be consumed by the flames of a steel ladle to make the steel strong and pure to build a new steel mill in late 1800's.

Joe Magarac Statue at Edgar Thompson Works
 There is even a fantastic stained glass window which lights up at night on an office building in downtown Pittsburgh at 6th & Wood Street

But While Joe Magarac is a made up legend

 Mike Fink the king of the Keel Boaters is based on a real life person .


Before the system of locks and dams where put in place to make the rivers navigable they used keel boats which where meant for a one way trip from Pittsburgh  to points south  where they where then disasembled and used to build new structures.  Powered by powerful men with long wooden poles which sank into the river mud and provided the push. Among these men was Mike Fink.
 A marksmen Indian scout and brawler who they said could take on a whole boat full of men by himself .and shoot the feather off a Indians head at a 100yards.
Of course plenty of Mikes legendary exploits have become Tall tales along the way  much in the way Joe Majarac could bend steel rails in his bare hands.

On the other hand Johnny AppleSeed's  Tales are real 

He was a well known nurseryman who planted Apple trees thru out Ohio, Pa , Indiana and other states and said to have lived in Pittsburgh on grants Hill at one time . while the legend has him just randomly throwing and planting trees he instead formed small nursery's where trees where properly and carefully raised.
He is the reason we have so many fantastic apple variety's to this day.

Yes Western Pa.   is full of Tall tales and legends and these are just 3 of them.

Its a Fancy Coffee House now but in the 80's it was a seedy bar where a deadly drug China White was dealt which helped to kill 22 individuals.

Its called China White  a powerful synthetic  mix of Heroin and Fenteynyl  .
one Pittsburgh based Chemist in Aspinwall would use his skills to make it and end up killing 22 and overdosing many more.

The outbreak started and was traced  to  its distribution  in what was once a  nondescript  Seedy Bar on Pittsburgh's North Side now a coffee shop and Deli  at Federal and West streets  where people get there morning Caffeine fix  a perfect place to distribute drugs as the bar had several ways in and out and many twists and turns inside. When you rode by in summer the doors where open and you could look inside its dark interior

By at  the time it was over in 1988  a chemist who was making  the drug at his residence and distributing the drug  from this former bar was arrested at his Aspinwall residence after   22 deaths where attributed to the deadly wave of overdoses as junkies flocked to try the new dangerous drug.

I was doing work and teaching  on he North Side at this time and saw many times Junkies being picked up by medics   in the back alleys and parking lots and along East Ohio and federal after passing out from a fix. 
Thankfully 2 outstanding Pittsburgh Narcotic Detectives I once meet  Barry and Fox
where able to infiltrate and break this case wide open with help from the DEA and needless to say it came as a shock when police surrounded a residence in quiet and upscale community of Aspinwall a few miles up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh.

As people come in to get there daily morning cup of Jo   these days many would be shocked to know this deadly wave of drug overdoses started right there on that corner.