Ohiopyle’s natural beauty and recreation are captured in a new, 18-foot-tall mural that features images such as Cucumber Falls and people enjoying hiking, biking, kayaking and winter sports.
Co-funded by Ohiopyle State Park and Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation, “Welcome to Ohiopyle’’ is located at the base of the Great Allegheny Passage hike/bike trail bridge, at the corner of Main and Sheridan Streets and adjacent to Falls Market.
The mural greets visitors as they enter from the north side of town.
“This has been a long time in the making,’’ said Ken Bisbee, park manager at a recent dedication ceremony, noting, “You can see behind me how great it is.’’
Bisbee explained a mural previously painted on this base had become faded and unsightly. As they attempted to replace it, the park partnered with Rivers of Steel to create this new work of public art.
“The really nice thing is how everybody came together to do this,’’ said Bisbee, explaining park staff and Friends of Ohiopyle prepared the site and park ranger Barbara Wallace gave artist Shane Pilster an in-depth tour.
Calling the endeavor “ a great partnership,’’ Bisbee noted local officials wanted Pilster to get a feel for what’s here: “We didn’t want to squelch his creativity. The end result is much better for that.’’
Pilster, of Wilkinsburg, who is Rivers of Steel’s Urban Art coordinator, visited Ohiopyle in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019.
Pilster called Ohiopyle “amazing’’ and also thanked park staff for making the experience easy and fun.
“There were so many ideas. I had to consolidate. That’s why I went with more of a collage so we could include as many things as possible and still keep it abstract, and have some more iconic images for the area,’’ said Pilster, who did take a suggestion from Bisbee to add hemlock trees, which are prevalent at Ohiopyle and are the state tree.
Pilster, with help from artist C. Clayton, painted the mural in two and a half days, making a few revisions as they free-hand, spray painted the design: “We wanted something that wouldn’t blind people when they came around the corner but also be colorful enough to be eye catching.’’
Pilster added, “I love how it came out. There was a lot of positive feedback as we painted it.’’
Chris McGinnis, director of arts, thanked the park staff for reaching out to Rivers of Steel, a parks and heritage preservation nonprofit that links southwestern Pennsylvania communities through shared cultural and industrial heritage.
“It’s such a great opportunity to work together, bringing something really unique and exciting to this community that’s going to be in front of so many people,’’ said McGinnis, adding, “This is a really great example of being able to contribute to the vitality that’s already so apparent and successful here in Ohiopyle, to be able to offer our own creative interpretation of that and bring something for the community to enjoy.’’
Thursa Trent Crouse from the office of Rep. Matthew Dowling, R-Uniontown, commended everyone involved on the project, saying, “As if we need another reason to showcase Ohiopyle, we have it now.’’
Since its completion over Labor Day weekend, the mural has been attracting attention with Bisbee noting, “It’s amazing how many people come here for photos.’’
This is the second mural in the region completed with support by Rivers of Steel. The first was erected in Brownsville in 2018 as part of Rivers of Steel’s Mon Valley Creative Corridor initiative.