An eventful, non-eventful drive to Rochester

There we were, driving to Rochester again. I was in the drivers seat with Cathy sitting shotgun. After driving this same route for the last 12 years the trip has become boring — Hell, to say the drive had become boring is an understatement. The only decision to make takes place at Binghamton; Rochester via Syracuse (shorter) or Rochester via Corning (more scenic). After completing the drive, all 370 miles worth, hundreds of times, the “driver” has almost become unnecessary. Sometimes it seems as though the car could complete the trip to either city on it’s own. Ok — in reality any attempt at the driver-less car wouldn’t end well (or start?!?) but anyone who has had the displeasure of making regular trips to the same location(s) can sympathize. Of course these drives are usually made after work on a Friday or early Monday morning with a meeting or some sort of deadline quickly approaching at end of the trip. No time to take in the scenery or make any stops along the way. Rush, Rush, Rush! Last Thursday’s drive was different though. Sure we were heading up to Rochester for a jazz festival but the entire point of going to Rochester was for a little R&R. So without deadlines how could we make the trip a little more interesting? Well…

Stop 1: The Lackawana Coal Mine
Lackawana Coal Mine Cable Car Lackawana Coal Mine Cable Car
After driving past a sign for this coal mine literally hundreds of times we were finally going to explore it’s depths. We made it to the mine at about 2:40 which was just in time for the last tour of the day at 2:50. The tour begins with a decent into the mine via the #190 slope (video after the jump). We boarded a cable car and got lowered nearly 300ft into the depths of a once active & profitable Pennsylvania anthracite coal mine. While descending into the mine we immediately began to feel the temperature dropping towards the mines consistent 53 degree temperature. Once arriving at the base of the #190 slope we de-boarded the cable car and were ushered through the main tunnel of the mine by an extremely knowledgeable tour guide. It should be noted that all of the tour guides have roots in the mining industry — most of which have been employed as miners.

The tour begins with a brief description of the mine and an overview of the mines architecture and continues through to the last actively mined segment of the mine which abruptly ceased operation in 1966, caving in to the pressure of a surging oil and natural gas market. Thanks to several stops in the mine shaft, complete with props, and explanations from the tour guide we had an excellent understanding of the that particular mine and a general understanding of the mining industry as a whole. In my opinion the tour is under-rated. If you happen to be in/near Scranton, PA be sure to stop at the Lackawana Coal Mine. You wont be disappointed in the 1.5 hour detour! To view the complete photo set from our visit click here.



Stop 2: Some good ‘ol BBQ from Big Dipper Bar B Q
Along 390 sits a BBQ shack. With it’s back to the highway this seasonal stop seems like it’s always pumping out the aroma of top notch BBQ. Sure it smells good but is it actually good? Yes! I first became aware of this joint a couple of years ago. Going in I only knew two things — the food smelled good and it was nothing more than a road stop. It’s not fancy — there isn’t any indoor seating and the food is served counter style. Grab your plate and sit at a picnic table sheltered by a wooden roof. Then dig in! Cathy was treated to some of the best BBQ Chicken she’s had while I had some of the best BBQ pulled pork I’ve had in quite some time. Dinosaur BBQ eat your heart out! While the sides leave something to be desired the main courses were all delicious. If you still have a sweet tooth after finishing the BBQ plate (you are going to finish it right?!?) head on over to the ice cream shop next door. We didn’t have any room left for ice cream :-)

We would have stopped at the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammondsport, NY but we simply ran out of time with the museum closing at 5:30. Of course this leaves us something to look forward to for future trips.


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2 Responses to An eventful, non-eventful drive to Rochester

  1. It was the first 8-hour-plus drive that I’ve had that didn’t feel like it took more than 8 hours to arrive!