Picture Perfect

   Capture part of the rich, scenic and cultural heritage of the Allegheny National Forest Region as you experience the spirit of one of the last wild places in the East. August brings lush green forest landscapes, blue skies, and twinkling stars overhead. Some of these images are yours to enjoy in the hardcover, coffee-table style photography book, “Pennsylvania Wilds: Images of the Allegheny National Forest,” and the newly published “The Great Kinzua Bridge.” If you feel more adventurous, you can be the one behind the lens, by participating in the upcoming “Fall Foliage Photo Trek Into the Forest” with professional photographer Ed Bernik.
   Enjoy the splendor of the natural beauty of the region by purchasing your copy of The Pennsylvania Wilds: Images of the Allegheny National Forest, photography by Ed Bernik, story by Lisa Gensheimer.A book so big you can get lost in it for days, the Foreword is written by Jonathan Tourtellott, National Geographic Traveler. You will enter the mysterious world of the Allegheny National Forest as you leaf through the 144 pages of illustrated history, photo essays and 86 pages of fine-art photography.
   Included in the book is the Forest Companion CD - the perfect travel companion or planning tool for your trip into the forest. It contains a travel guide, map, and a charming screensaver with gorgeous photos of the forest. When you use this on your computer, you will feel the stress melt away as you view the calming images and sounds of the forest. This book is available for $39.95 plus tax and shipping by calling 800-473-9370, on-line at www.theforestpress.com, or you can purchase a copy at selected retailers throughout the region.
   Steeped in history, the Kinzua Viaduct was the highest and longest railroad viaduct in the world when first constructed in 1882. Rebuilt in 1900 of steel to handle the heavier loads of coal and timber being shipped to the Great Lakes, this amazing structure crossed the Kinzua Gorge for over 100 years. In July 2003, a tornado directly struck this historic structure, tossing 11 of the massive steel towers across the valley floor.
   In 2012, six historic towers of the Kinzua Viaduct were re-invented as the Kinzua Sky Walk. Now open to the public, visitors can stroll out 624 feet into the Kinzua Valley at a height of over 225 feet to once again experience “walking the tracks across the sky.” One of the thrills of visiting the Kinzua Sky Walk is to feel the brisk wind at the end of the skywalk as you peer down into the valley at the fallen towers through the partial glass floor of the overlook.
   Visitors to the park should pack a picnic lunch and hiking shoes along with their favorite camera. The park has a lovely, forest-shaded picnic area just perfect for a day’s outing with family and friends. The General Kane Trail, at the park, is a one-mile trail through the forest with easy inclines, making it very family friendly. While hiking along the trail you will have the chance to view natural forest-regeneration following the tornado, wildlife, and one of the few remaining strands of American chestnut trees.
   The Great Kinzua Bridge, a new hardcover, 112-page, illustrated history book published in 2013, features stunning before and after the tornado photos of the Kinzua Viaduct, along with the history of why and how the bridge was built. The stories of Odo Valentine, an aviation dare-devil who flew through the towers of the bridge in 1939, of General Thomas L. Kane, a decorated American Civil War General who built the bridge, and of Octave Chanute, the structural engineer who worked on the bridge and who is considered by many the world’s first aviation engineer, are just a few of the stories highlighted in this new book. Photographs are by Ed Bernik, story by Jim Gates. The Great Kinzua Bridge is available for $24.95 plus tax and shipping, online at www.theforestpress.com or by calling 800-473-9370.
   Photographer Ed Bernik has been a commercial photographer for 25 years. He began his love affair with the Allegheny National Forest after returning to western Pennsylvania from Boston, not as a photographer, but as a fly-fisherman, taking refuge on small streams in search of native brook trout.
   While on a commercial assignment in July 2003, photographer Ed Bernik found himself at the Kinzua Viaduct the day before the devastating tornado left the national engineering landmark bridge in partial ruins. His image of what was once the longest and the highest railroad bridge in the world is now part of the public record, driving home the need to document and preserve historic and natural treasures, people and places on film.
   If you would like a personalized, autographed copy of this collector’s edition hard-cover book, The Great Kinzua Bridge, Bernik will be at the Kinzua Bridge State Park on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10am-4pm signing books. If you would like to learn the craft of taking fabulous photos, join Ed on the next Fall Foliage Photo Trek.
   Sign up now for the Fall Foliage Photo Trek!On Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 plan to join award-winning photographer Ed Bernik on a guided photo excursion into the Allegheny National Forest Region. Scheduled during the peak of the fall foliage season, you will learn how to capture that perfect shot while enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds you.
   The photo trek includes photography instruction, breakfast, a boxed lunch, and a full-day of photography, including a photo critique. The best photos will be featured on the regional tourism promotion site, www.visitANF.com.
   Dress for hiking … bring comfortable walking shoes and clothing, rain gear (the Trek will occur rain or shine), a digital SLR camera and a tripod.
   Cost for this program is $55, and will run from 10am-6pm. Participants will meet at the Frame-Westerberg Commons of the Univ. of Pitt-Bradford, 300 Campus Drive in Bradford, PA. Participants will car pool to the locations.
   Accommodations are available at local hotels and bed and breakfasts.  For a full list of accommodations go to www.visitANF.com.  To register for the Fall Foliage Photo Trek call 800-872-1787 or e-mail continued@pitt.edu
   Grab your camera and make some memories by visiting these suggested sites within the forest region.
• Longhouse National Scenic Drive: Designated one of the top 50 scenic drives in the United States by U.S.A. Today, this 27-mile loop circles the Allegheny Reservoir. Three scenic overlooks - Rimrock Overlook, Jakes Rocks and Kinzua Point - provide stunning vantage points to photograph the forest and the waters of the Alleghenies.
• Kinzua Bridge State Park: The Kinzua Bridge State Park is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. To visit, log in 1721 Lindholm Drive, Mt. Jewett, PA in your GPS unit. The park is a day-use park, open from dawn to dusk; admission is free, as is walking on the Kinzua Sky Walk. Weddings and special events can be scheduled at the park. There is a park pavilion available for rent.
   If you have a group of 20 or more, and you would like to schedule an interpretive program on the history of the bridge, apple-cider making, use of a GPS-geocaching or other free programs offered by the Kinzua Bridge State Park, please call the park office at 814-965-2546.
• Smethport Mansion District: Plan a road trip into Smethport, PA to view the 32 homes highlighted within the Smethport Mansion District Walking Tour Brochure. You can pick up a copy of this brochure in the outside kiosk located in front of the McKean County Courthouse. The map inside takes you past homes built during the Gilded Age. Victorian Queen Anne, English Gothic, Italianate, and Colonial Revival are just some of the architectural styles you can photograph. A stop at the Old Jail House Museum, 502 W. King Street, will offer you some additional prospective on the pioneers and industries that shaped the communities of McKean County, Pennsylvania.
• Bradford National Historic District: Built by the oil barons during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Bradford’s downtown features a wide variety of architectural styles. Of particular note is the Hooker-Fulton Building, a stunning example of Art Deco architecture. Old City Hall was recently completely renovated and features a mural of the city in the first floor reception area. One of the quirks of the city is the operating oil well in the drive-thru area of the local McDonald’s; a historic foot-note to the region’s industrial riches.
   For a free copy of the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Guide and Map, or the Smethport Mansion District Brochure, or the Bradford National Historic District Walking Tour, and a full list of accommodations, restaurants and local shops, please call 800-473-9370 or visit us online at visitANF.com.
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