Monongahela River Towns
The Monongahela River Towns are working regionally to grow a hub of outdoor recreation in a beautiful rural setting, just a short drive from major urban centers.
In the spring of 2011, PEC launched its Monongahela River Town Program in Fayette, Greene, and Washington Counties. The program has since expanded to include communities in Northern West Virginia. More rural in nature than the Allegheny River Towns, these communities have the potential to draw visitors from the Morgantown and Pittsburgh regions. Historic buildings that date back to the Revolutionary War attract the history buff, along with remnants of the region’s historic key industries– glass and clay making, as well as ship building and river navigation—while canoeing and kayaking opportunities, hiking and biking trails, and a vibrant boating culture will satisfy outdoors lovers.
In late 2014, PEC transitioned the program management role to the regional National Road Heritage Corridor organization. Additionally, the Mon River Valley Coalition was formed. With involvement from the current and former River Towns, as well as neighboring communities, county agencies, non-profit organizations, and regional institutions of higher education, this initiative works collaboratively on regional projects, such as signage, boat launch improvements, trail development, and visitor attraction.
Examples of Regional Projects:
- Streetscape beautification, including installation of flower planters, painting buildings, hanging banners, and cleaning windows.
- Educational workshops on topics such as effective marketing for leasing or selling a building, websites and social media for small businesses, and financing opportunities for new or expanding businesses.
- Branding and promotion, including design of a River Town logo, creation of gateway signage for each community, production of window clings for vacant buildings to improve street level appearance, and creation of a website.
- Assessment of existing attitudes towards the river, via a professional survey of residents before River Town activities began. A follow-up survey will help us to gauge the effectiveness of the program.
The first cohort of towns, which “graduated” from the program in December 2013, included Point Marion, Greensboro, Rices Landing, Fredericktown, California, and Brownsville. Additional towns in Southwestern Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia have joined the program.
The program was initially funded through a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and supported by the Student Conservation Association’s River Town Outreach Corps.
- In its first three years, the Monongahela River Town Program brought in over $1,000,000 in grants and donations to support community projects, including boat launch improvements, installation of restrooms, and trail improvements.
- In part due to “get out the vote” efforts by the program, the Monongahela was named “Pennsylvania River of the Year” in 2013.
- PEC hosted five canoe and kayak trips on the Monongahela in 2012 and 2013, with more than 130 participants.