Along the Great Allegheny Passage: Confluence

Me. At Confluence, Pa.

Though the second town on our journey, we bypassed altogether on Confluence en route to our stayover in Meyersdale. The trouble of a late start. On our rainy third day, however, we didn’t miss this trail town. We were glad we visited.

Confluence sits at the (you guessed it) confluence of the Youghiogheny and Casselman Rivers. In 1754, General Washington arrived at Confluence nee Turkeyfoot. From his diary, May 1754:

The 20th … we gained Turkeyfoot, by the Beginning of the Night. We underwent several Difficulties about either or ten Miles from thense, though of no great Consequence, finding the Waters sometimes deep enough for Canoes to pass, and at other times more shalow.” 

The 21st, Tarried there some time to examine the Place, which we found very convenient to build a Fort, not only because it was gravelly but also for it being that the Mount of three Branches of small Rivers… We went down the River about ten Miles, when at last it became so rapid as to oblige us to come ashore.”

The rapids referenced by General Washington are, of course, those that now draw tourists to Ohiopyle. But Confluence is a quieter place.

To reach the town square from the GAP, one must cross two pedestrian/bike bridges. Signage is excellent, even on a rainy Sunday. (Note to self: riding on Sunday mornings isn’t the wisest decision, given that everything is closed due to church).

Sister’s Cafe – Confluence, Pa.

Confluence, as the trail brochure reads, is “a classic mid-mountain town complete with a town square and Victorian bandstand.” The town is dotted with B&Bs, cafes, and shops.

A simple meal at Sisters Cafe was complete with warm coffee for cold and weary bones. The hospitality in small town America remains present in Pennsylvania, just as it exists in Kentucky.

One shop – the Confluence Cyclery – is a gem. Located on the town square in the old ca. 1905 Kurtz Department Store, the Cyclery provides repairs and other services for those travelling along the Great Allegheny Passage. Owners Brad and Maureen Smith were both there during our visit and they shared about Confluence’s growth as a result of the GAP (they ‘retired’ here themselves in 2008). The Smiths take photos of their customers (see below) and share them on their Facebook page – it becomes an annual scrapbook of whose travelled the GAP.

The town of Confluence was one of our favorite. A term used to describe parts of Pennsylvania outside of the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia metro areas is Pennsyltucky. Some consider the term pejorative, though I would use it to describe the sense felt in this northern community of hospitality and warmth like that felt here in the Commonwealth.

Me and my brother outside Confluence Cyclery