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Saltsburg to debut historic downtown walking route

Jeff Himler
| Monday, July 16, 2018, 9:24 p.m.
View of the old Martin's Restaurant from one of the upper floors of Altman Feed Mill in Saltsburg Oct. 17.
Bruce Siskawicz | Trib Total Media
View of the old Martin's Restaurant from one of the upper floors of Altman Feed Mill in Saltsburg Oct. 17.
Townspeople, Inc. recently purchased the former Altman Feed Mill in Saltsburg Oct. 17. The building was built in 1912, and still houses most of the original milling equipment.
Bruce Siskawicz | Trib Total Media
Townspeople, Inc. recently purchased the former Altman Feed Mill in Saltsburg Oct. 17. The building was built in 1912, and still houses most of the original milling equipment.

A new downtown Saltsburg walking route that passes by several historic sites is set to debut on Thursday.

The public is invited to help kick off the 1-mile route at 6:30 p.m. at the Saltsburg Playground, near the West Penn Trail trailhead on Water Street. Those planning to participate should wear walking shoes.

The circular route follows a section of the West Penn Trail through town and returns along Salt Street, the town’s main thoroughfare. Organized walks along the route, for fun and fitness, will continue at 6:30 p.m. each Thursday.

The trail coincides for several blocks with the town’s Canal Park. The park follows the path of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal that traveled through Saltsburg from 1828 to 1864 and later served as a route for the Pennsylvania Railroad, until the mid-1950s.

The former Patterson/Altman Mill, bordering the park between Market and Point streets, operated from 1912 until the 1960s, processing livestock feed, flour and grain. Original Allis-Chalmers equipment remains in place in the four-story building, which also houses Saltsburg Kayak and Canoe Outfitters.

Nearby, the Point Street Tavern carries on the tradition of offering food and refreshment in a brick building that dates to 1912. Charles and Helen Martin built it to replace a smaller wood frame structure they’d opened as a restaurant in 1889.

The Canal Park features a Freedom Tree, planted in 1983 on the site of a former railroad station, near Washington Street. The oak tree is dedicated to those who were prisoners of war or missing in action in the Vietnam War - including New Alexandria native Robert M. Young, an Army captain who died in captivity, at age 26, in 1972.

Downtown Saltsburg is known for examples of historic architecture, including two along the Salt Street leg of the walking route.

Dating from 1830, a stone house with Ionic columns stands between Washington Street and Ash Way. A few years later, it became the home of Dr. Thomas Murray, a noted physician and the town’s first burgess. The Greek Revival front porch and second-floor were added around 1910.

The wood frame home of another physician, Dr. Benjamin F. Sterett, was built in 1828 and received an 1856 facelift including a mansard roof and Victorian trim.

The walking route is the ninth organized in Indiana County through the WalkWorks program, a partnership between the state Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

A second Saltsburg route covers 1.2 miles in the borough’s Uptown section. Starting at the town’s library, it follows sections of Pine, Market and Penn streets, Indiana Avenue, and Cathedral, Washington, and Walnut streets.

Several other WalkWorks routes are in operation in Allegheny and Fayette counties. Visit pawalkworks.com for details.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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