The landscape of Southwestern Pennsylvania can be described as a bit schizonphrenic.
On one hand, it offers scenic views of rolling hillsides and pastures like this:
And, there are well manicured gentleman farms hugging country roads.......
Almost out of nowhere appears a giant, contrasting image of the coal industry that, in many ways, drives the local economy. The state Department of Environmental Protection requires coal operators to develop these slurry ponds to recycle water they use to wash coal as it leaves their mines. In grand scale, gray mine waste is built up to create a dam wall to hold back this water and allow sediment to fall to the bottom of the pond before the water goes back to the coal-washing plant.
It's nearly impossible to take in the region's natural resources and not-so-natural resources unless they are viewed from a low-flying airplane. We passed over these areas on a newspaper assignment this week in a Piper aircraft to take a look at the poorly-designed Interstate 70, especially its Bentleyville interchange, portions of which predate World War II. One highway entrance ramp there is heavily traveled by tractor trailers, but the road is too short for even cars to get up enough speed to compete with the ever-increasing traffic. Here's a kooky two-leaf I-70 cloverleaf in nearby Somerset Township:
(Photography copyright: Observer-Reporter)