The Compass Inn Museum Preserves the 1800s in the Laurel Highlands

You may know a lot of what life was like during the early days of Pittsburgh's history thanks to the forts found nearby and famous battles that took place leading up to the Revolutionary War.

But the period after the war quiets down a fair bit (apart from the brief Whiskey Rebellion) until a few decades later due to the War of 1812. This triggered a rapid increase in iron production, which subsequently became the steel industry, and ultimately modern Pittsburgh as we know it.

One spot in the Laurel Highlands, the Compass Inn Museum, captures the history from this rather calm period, around the turn of the 19th century, and showcases what life was like for those living in (and more appropriately, passing through) southwest Pennsylvania around this time!

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Learning the History of Pontiac’s Rebellion at Bushy Run Battlefield

In the early days of southwest Pennsylvania history, a number of battles ensued for control over the confluence of the three rivers in what is now downtown Pittsburgh.

You likely know about George Washington's mishap at Fort Necessity in the Laurel Highlands that is considered the start of the Seven Years War. You may also know about the Forbes Campaign that passed through Fort Ligonier in order to capture Fort Duquesne a short time later. But the Battle of Bushy Run during Pontiac's Rebellion may be one you have not heard much of, and if so, a trip to Jeannette, PA, should be on your radar.

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Tour-Ed Mine & Museum Takes an Educational Trip Into a Coal Mine

Virtually everyone knows about Pittsburgh's steel history. You may even know that the city was a big producer of glass and iron as well. But did you know that the area was also a big coal producer too? 

While coal mining was necessary for steel production, there were numerous uses for this bountiful material found in the area- and coal mining boomed for several centuries.

One mine decided to close down in the mid-1900s, despite sitting on a large deposit of coal, and converted the area into an educational museum in order to highlight the history of coal mining in the region. They became the Tour-Ed Mine & Museum, and this spot has been operating educational tours for over 50 years!

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Phipps Conservatory’s Summer Flower Show – Van Gogh in Bloom

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Oakland is one of the pride and jewels of Pittsburgh. Each season the conservatory unveils a new show that features impressive artistic displays as well as unique seasonal flowers that will have you coming back time and time again.

The Summer Flower Show in 2019 is themed “Van Gogh in Bloom” and features some of this master's wonderful works re-imagined with flowers as the medium!

As with previous shows, we do not like to give everything away in our reviews. Instead, we're only featuring a select few of our favorite rooms and are leaving the rest for you to enjoy on your visit!

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Exploring the Historical Jail Museum in Downtown Pittsburgh

If you've spent some time walking around downtown Pittsburgh, odds are good you've seen the old Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail. This historical building is one of the most stunning in the city and even includes its own Bridge of Sighs walkway that connected the two buildings.

Today the jail has been decommissioned and converted into a Common Pleas court, yet many artifacts from the era exist and are available on display in the Old Allegheny County Jail Museum.

But if you want to check this one out you'll have to plan accordingly- it is only open from 11:30am to 1pm on Mondays, February to October!

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Visiting the Donora Historical Society and Donora Smog Museum

One of the things we love about the boroughs in southwest Pennsylvania is that many of them have a historical society and museum dedicated to sharing the history of the area.

Some of these, like the Saxonburg Museum, are huge. Others, like the Harmony Museums, are spread out over multiple historical buildings that are all worth exploring.

In Donora, the museum managed by the Donora Historical Society is fairly small. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in sharing the borough's history and the Donora Smog environmental disaster.

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Phipps Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show – Gardens of the Rainbow

As the cold of winter begins to leave Pittsburgh, there is one thing we always look forward to in order to ring in the start of spring – Phipps Conservatory's Spring Flower Show!

2019's Spring Flower Show has the theme “Gardens of the Rainbow” and highlights the colors of the rainbow as well as other unique aspects of color theory- making this one of the most vibrant shows in recent memory!

We were fortunate to visit Phipps Conservatory shortly after this show opened as guests of Phipps and we wanted to share some of our favorite rooms and exhibits with you today.

As with all of our museum posts, we're only sharing a selection of our favorites because you truly must visit for yourself to experience it all!

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The Saxonburg Museum is a Wonderful Historical Gem

Prior to visiting Saxonburg, I only had heard a few stories about the borough's rich history.

It wasn't until I visited for a Burgh, Bits, and Bites food tour that I was able to learn more about the history due to the fact that the tour started out at the wonderful Saxonburg Museum!

If you're in the area during the museum's seasonal operating period, this one is most certainly worth a stop.

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