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'A HAUNTING EXPERIENCE AWAITS YOU'
Just a few miles upstream from the city of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, there is a quiet wooded refuge along the Youghiogheny River where fading shades of the past meet the colorful here and now. Hidden away among the high hills of southern Allegheny County is an area known by the name of Dead Man's Hollow. It is a place where the ghosts of another day can be found lurking among the leafy landscape while the denizens of a modern world go about their leisurely activities. At one point in time, the hollow was an area thriving with industrial achievement. Today, it is 440 acres of protected woodlands and waterways. Despite all of its natural beauty and tranquility, Dead Man's Hollow is best known for a history stained by tragic events and horrific deaths. Many, if not all, of the grim occurrences are shadowed by one inexplicable circumstance or another. Of course, it is the hollow's very name that might be the greatest mystery of all. Even with years of speculation, it seems that no one is exactly sure how Dead Man's Hollow acquired its frightful name.
Once known as Flemming Station along the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie (P&LE) railroad line, Dead Man's Hollow was alive with an industrial spirit at the end of the 19th century. It was home to the Bowman Brick Factory and the George Flemming Stone Quarry. The business flourished with every stone that was extracted and every brick that was manufactured. The successful operation continued until 1898 when a fierce fire ravaged the brick factory. Of course, it didn't take long before the industry reestablished itself in Dead Man's Hollow. The former site of Bowman Brick became the home of the Union Sewer Pipe Company. With its five story building, kiln ovens and a massive stockyard, the factory dominated much of the land adjacent to the Youghiogheny River in 1905. The company was one of the leading pipe manufacturers in its day. Rail cars loaded with clay pipes made their way across the entire state of Pennsylvania, throughout New York and as far north as the New England states. The prominent business would remain a fixture in the hollow for roughly twenty years. Around 1925, pipe production came to an abrupt halt when another fire broke out. Flames destroyed the majority of the building while the intense heat caused damage to the equipment outside. The devastation to the Union Sewer Pipe Company had a dramatic impact on the hollow. The decision not to rebuild the plant had brought an end to an era. As the years moved on, many of the families who made Dead Man's Hollow their home opted to do the same. Soon, only the ruins of what 'once was' would remain.
Nearly 40 years would pass before the hollow found itself in the headlines again. In the mid 1990s, Dead Man's Hollow was purchased by a nonprofit organization dedicated to safeguarding the ecological value of undeveloped land in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With acre upon acre of dense woodlands and gentle streams, the secluded hollow along the Youghiogheny became the largest privately protected conservation area in Allegheny County. The group known as Allegheny Land Trust had become the guardians of Dead Man's Hollow by protecting the area from the threat of landfill development and other destructive projects. Not long after, volunteers from all across the region helped in the transformation process. Both young and old could be found lending a hand at different events. The volunteers worked to remove trash and other debris as well as clear invasive plant species. This was followed by the construction of an elaborate hiking trail system. Wooden park benches were placed along the footpaths and a bridge was erected over Dead Man's Run. Fencing was installed in areas that presented a danger to visitors. When it was all said and done, Allegheny Land Trust had succeeded in preserving the rural beauty of the hollow and creating a place that was free for everyone to enjoy.