Duquesne and Kennywood In Print

Writing this blog has provided me with a vehicle to relate some “snippets” of memories that I have about Duquesne and about our beloved Kennywood Park. Did you know that there are a number of publications that are available that provide even more history and information?

Listed below are several books and videos that you can find that you might enjoy. I tried to provide links to where you can get them, but there is limited availability in some cases. I own several (most) of these books and really love paging through them.

Images of America – Kennywood by Daniel Burns

Book Description

Release date: May 18, 2005

Scan_Pic0001“Located just eleven miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Duquesne has a history that began when British general Edward Braddock and American colonel George Washington marched through the area and were defeated by the French in 1755. Once a part of Mifflin Township, Duquesne was later named in honor of the French governor general of Canada. Through the 1800s, the area was primarily fertile farmland. After the construction of the Carnegie Steel Mill in 1901, the town became an industrial giant in steel production. Incorporated as a town in 1891, Duquesne became rich in culture, with people from ethnic backgrounds as diverse as the skills they utilized to build the community. By the height of World War II, the Carnegie Steel Company, now the Duquesne Works of United States Steel, employed over ten thousand people. Through nearly two hundred photographs, Duquesne extols the history of this prosperous town.” – Amazon.com Review

Click the link below to find out how to get this book:


Three Slovak Women by Lisa Alzo

Book Description

Publication Date: June 24, 2003

tswcover-210“Three Slovak Women is a nonfiction account of three generations of Slovak women in the steel-producing town of Duquesne, Pennsylvania and the love and sense of family binding them together. The book opens with Verona Straka, who immigrated to the United States from the tiny village of Milpos, Slovakia in 1922. The first section unfolds with Verona’s journey from her homeland, and then chronicles her arranged marriage to Jánoš Figlyar, a hardworking, but stern coal miner/steelworker, whose fondness for alcohol led him to the often violent outbursts of which she was the target. The story then follows Verona’s first-born, her daughter Anna, as she grows up as a first-generation American, fearful of her father and devoted to her mother, and how this influenced the choices she made for her own life. Finally, the book concludes with Verona’s granddaughter, Lisa, showing how the opportunities presented to her differed from those afforded her mother and grandmother, with reflection on family values and traditions of the Slovak culture—honoring those that have been passed down from the previous two generations, while lamenting what has been lost.” – Amazon.com review

Click the link below to find out how to get this book:


Goodbye Billy Radish by Gloria Skurzynski

Book Description

Publication Date: October 1, 1996

n55547This is the poignant story of the friendship between two boys, Hank Kerner and Bazyli Radichevych, called Billy Radish, set in the steel town of Canaan, Pennsylvania, in 1917. The boys are very different, for while Hank considers himself, Billy is a Ukrainian immigrant straddling two cultures. As World War I rages overseas, both boys are faced with some difficult questions.

A steep wooden stairway descends from one Pittsburgh street to another, and, at its foot, two boys meet for the first time, bridging a gap of language and culture to extend the hand of friendship. With all the innocent arrogance of the second-generation American, Hank Kerner dubs Ukrainian Bazyli Radichevich “Billy Radish,” and Billy Radish he remains, to all but his family, until the end. Older and bigger than Hank, the boy has already graduated to long pants, will soon show an interest in girls, and looks forward to his 14th birthday when he can leave school and take a man’s job (7 days a week, 12 hours a day) in the mill. Despite their differences, the boys show their friendship in myriad ways, both touching and true, in a coming-of-age story made poignant by the fact that Billy won’t live to come of age. Steel mill accidents and the war take their toll on the boys’ world, but it’s the Spanish influenza that strikes tragically and without warning. Given the book’s title, readers will have adequate preparation for its outcome and will grieve as deeply as Hank for the lost promise of Billy’s life. In this story permeated with the realities of life in World War I Pittsburgh, characters, time, and place spring vividly to life from the very first pages. And scene after scene–from the boys’ first meeting to Hank’s final feverish farewell–will remain etched in readers’ memory through the unfolding of this richly textured, lovingly crafted historical novel. To be treasured as an involving drama and a welcome reminder of who we are and where we’ve been. –Marcia Hupp, Mamaro neck Public Library, NY

Gloria Skurzynski – Author

Born in Duquesne, Pennsylvania on July 6, 1930, Gloria Skurzynski grew up around the steel industry during the Great Depression, dropping out of college early. Persuaded to write by poet Phyllis McGinley and receiving numerous rejects from various publications, Skurzynski would go on to produce more than 60 books for children. Her works address subjects like history, folktales, science and technology, and the natural world.

Gloria Joan Skurzynski, daughter of steelworker Aylmer Kearney Flister and telegraph operator Serena (Decker) Flister. Since her father held a secure job, the family managed to ease through the Great Depression. She frequently visited the library and the movies in building an appreciation for literature. In 1948, she attended Mount Mercy College (now Carlow University), a Catholic women’s school. Uncomfortable with the restrictive education environment, she quit after her sophomore year and served as a statistical clerk for U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh (1950-1952).

Click the link below to find out how to get this book:


DUQUESNE and the Rise of Steel Unionism by James Rose

Book Description

Publication Date: July 31, 2001 | Series: Working Class in American History

Union“Not all workers’ needs were served by the union. Focusing on the steel works at Duquesne, Pennsylvania, a linchpin of the old Carnegie Steel Company empire and then of U.S. Steel, James D. Rose demonstrates the pivotal role played by a nonunion form of employee representation usually dismissed as a flimsy front for management interests. The early New Deal set in motion two versions of workplace representation that battled for supremacy: company-sponsored employee representation plans (ERPs) and independent trade unionism. At Duquesne, the cause of the unskilled, hourly workers, mostly eastern and southern Europeans as well as blacks, was taken up by the union – the Fort Dukane Lodge of the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers. For skilled tonnage workers and skilled tradesmen, mainly U.S.-born and of northern and western European extraction, ERPs offered a better solution. Initially little more than a crude antiunion device, ERPs matured from tools of the company into semi-independent, worker-led organizations. Isolated from the union movement through the mid-1930s, ERP representatives and management nonetheless created a sophisticated bargaining structure that represented the shop-floor interests of the mill’s skilled workforce. Meanwhile, the Amalgamated gave way to the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, a professionalized and tightly organized affiliate of John L. Lewis’s CIO, that expended huge resources trying to gain companywide unionization. Even when the SWOC secured a collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Steel in 1937, however, the Union was still unable to sign up a majority of the workforce at Duquesne. A sophisticated study of the forces that shaped and responded to workers’ interests, “Duquesne and the Rise of Steel Unionism” confirms that what people did on the shop floor was as critical to the course of steel unionism as were corporate decision making and shifts in government policy.” – Amazon.com review.

Click the link below to find out how to get this book:


Kennywood – Images of America by David P. Hahner Jr. (Author), Carl O. Hughes (Foreword) 

Book Description

Release date: May 31, 2004

kennywood-david-p-hahner-paperback-cover-art“For more than a century, Kennywood has been the Pittsburgh area’s playground. Founded in 1898 at the terminus of the Monongahela Street Railway trolley line, the park quickly grew into a favorite summertime destination. Kennywood is unique in that it is one of the country’s few successful trolley parks. In 1987, Kennywood was designated a National Historic Landmark and is known today as America’s Finest Traditional Amusement Park. Many unique rides and attractions have distinguished Kennywood over the years. Some old favorites, such as the Rockets, Laff in the Dark, Ghost Ship, and Skooters, are long gone. Others, such as the Old Mill, Noah’s Ark, Auto Race, Turtle, Whip, and Grand Carousel, still entertain guests today. Kennywood is perhaps best known for its impressive collection of roller coasters, from earlier coasters such as the Figure Eight, Speed-O-Plane, and Pippin to the Racer, Jack Rabbit, Thunderbolt, and Phantom’s Revenge coasters that still thrill riders today.” – Amazon.com review.

Click the link below to find out how to get this book:


Kennywood…Roller Coaster Capital of the World by Charles J., Jr. Jacques

Publisher: Amusement Park Journal (January 1, 1982)

0075743Wonderful vintage photos throughout. A thorough and well-researched history of the famous Kennywood Amusement Park in Pennsylvania, located twelve miles from Pittsburgh.The park opened in 1898 (as a trolley park) and, in 1987, was designated a National Historic Landmark. This is one of America’s oldest existing amusement parks, featuring a classic collection of rollercoasters (and a vintage carousel as well). Sadly, there is no more vaudeville, or people in hobble skirts and bowler hats wandering around, but Kennywood is still in existence…go visit! Author Jacques was the editor of AMUSEMENT PARK JOURNAL, so he is quite an expert on the subject.

Click the link below to find out how to get this book:


More Kennywood Memories by Charles J., Jr. Jacques (Author), Rick Shale (Editor), Carl O. Hughes (Preface)

Publisher: Amusement Park Journal; First Edition edition (July 1, 1998)

9780961439248“Jacques can’t seem to get enough Kennywood. (A hot summer day there punctuated by hot dogs, cotton candy and traffic jams might do it.) This is his second volume on the West Mifflin amusement park. The first, “Kennywood: Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” is still in print after 15 years and seemed to mark the beginning of a new appreciation of the place.

The new book is even more in thrall with Kennywood and lovingly dotes on the modern era, with its new high-tech rides and its old-tech Lost Kennywood section.

Kennywood’s real accomplishment is its continued success under local ownership that has never allowed the park to stand pat. Jacques includes a Sandcastle chapter to emphasize the park’s willingness to try new things and improve a former industrial site.

Still, this book is for the amusement park aficionado, filled with the minutiae of management and construction. The many photos tend to overwhelm after a while, but if you love Kennywood, you won’t tire of returning to this book.” – By Bob Hoover, Post-Gazette Book Editor

Click the link below to find out how to get this book:


Kennywood Memories

One of my favorite ways of reconnecting to my love for Kennywood is by watching and old VHS tape that I have titled “Kennywood Memories.” It was produced by WQED and first aired in 1988. My daughters love this video too. Although it is a pain to have to reconnect a VHS player whenever we want to see it, it is always worth the effort. It was re-released in 2003 in a DVD format, but I have failed to spring for it as of yet. Somehow, going through the effort of hooking-up the VHS in itself is like a journey back in time and make the occasion feel that much more special.

I have searched Amazon, eBay and Google, and have found copies available. They are difficult to find sometimes, but I assure you, it is worth the effort.

Below are a few clips from the broadcast that are available to watch on Youtube. Enjoy this journey back in time……………….

Kennywood Memories movie was released Jan 19, 2004 by the WQED Multimedia studio.
In KENNYWOOD MEMORIES, WQED Pittsburgh television host Rick Sebak looks back at Kennywood, the amusement park that provided Pittsburgh area families with happy memories for generations. Kennywood Memories movie From rollercoasters to french fries and ice cream, this lovingly made documentary is the best way to relive your own personal memories of Kennywood!

DVD Features: Region 1 Keep Case Full Frame – 1.33 Audio:  Dolby Digital Stereo – English Additional Release Material:  Bonus Footage  Vintage Commercials

The WQED classic documentary about Pittsburgh’s premier amusement park! Now with extra material, including rare old Kennywood commercials and historic films as well as some swell seldom-seen special clips from WQED’s archives! It’s the original old show with some snazzy new segments on DVD! Whooooooosh! It’s roller coasters! French fries! And lots of good times! It’s a high-flying, double dipped, screeching, squealing, scream-your-eyes-out documentary about one of America’s greatest amusement parks, Kennywood!

The like below takes you to a special site on WQED that outlines several video clips that are available about Kennywood. Great fun. All I need are some fries from the Potato Patch and a giant sno-cone!


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11 Responses to Duquesne and Kennywood In Print

  1. Pam Murphy says:

    when I lived in Duquesne in the 50’s, you not only had wonderful school picnics at Kennywood, but you could save Nehi/Royal Crown bottle caps to redeem for Kennywood ride tickets. happened to have an uncle who drove for the distributor and we had buckets. what a great summer! and, by the way, moved to Illinois, but spent summers in Duquesne in 60’s. we would walk from the top of Kennedy Avenue, down the hill, across the old wooden ravine bridge (now an Interstate), to Kennywood. Visited Kennywood a few years ago with my daughter and grandchildren who now have newer memories of Kiddieland and their first ride on the Jack Rabbit and Turtles with digital pictures.(vs a “Kodak Brownie”)

  2. Larry McConnell says:

    Hi Harry
    Thanks for the reminder about Billy Radish. I put in a “request for purchase” at my library for the other books and will add “Goodbye Billy Radish.”

  3. Larry McConnell says:

    Hi Bob
    You sure are right about the vinegar! I wish I could remember who made those fries. I should, I pushed tons of them from the store room to the Midway, where I worked. I sure ate enough of them, always watching for Mr. Walker or one of the Henninger brothers. When I was on leave in Amsterdam in the mid 60s, there were street vendors selling wonderful fries and the only garnish was mayo. Delicious!

  4. Bob Nelis says:

    Thanks for sharing Jim. I always enjoy the memories of Kennywood and the steel mills. I worked at J&L in Southside and the Dravo Works outside McKeesport in the late 50’s before going to college.
    I can still remember the excitement when my parents would give us a few bucks to buy the strips of ride tickets prior to our St. Aloyisius School Picnic at Kennywood….Bob Nelis

  5. Lou A. says:

    Jim, you mentioned Kennywood’s Potato Patch, but do you recall another ‘original’ treat from the refreshment stand opposite the Jack Rabbit – that paper snow cone container of greasy, salty fries soaked with a large squirt of vinegar? If you asked nicely, you could get a paper napkin the size of a postage stamp that was about as absorbent as an asphalt shingle. I’ve gotten many strange looks over the years asking for vinegar for my fries, but hey, the is no contraindication to taking Pepcid along with Lipitor and HydroDiuril, LOL!

    • Bob Chermonitz says:

      Lou, you are spot on! To this day I’ve used vinegar and salt on fries. And, as you’ve noted, the practice stems from working at Kennywood Park. I’ve never come across it anywhere else. You would think that with the wide spread use of “Pittsburgh” style salads (fries on it) that vinegar on fries would have caught on elsewhere. We would get free fries w/vinegar all the time from the girls working at the stands when we provided our own cup. As a pharmacist you’re sure to know the answer to this question. How much HCT does it take to overcome all the beer needed to quench one’s thirst after consuming all that salt? 😉

      • Lou A. says:

        1. Salt and vinegar potato chips are the closest generic equivalent allowed by the FDA.
        2.When I worked the Old Mill, I’d take a #10 brown bag to work for free popcorn from the stand that used to be right at the entrance; they tracked boxes sold, not how much popcorn used.
        3. Never mind HCTZ; beer kills brain cells, take four Aricept daily, yeah that’s ‘off-label’ but why take a chance!

  6. Ninabi says:

    I love the links about the books- I’ve placed them on my reading list. Thank you so much- you have a great blog.

  7. Larry McConnell says:

    HI Jim
    I appreciate all the info and the efforts involved about Duquesne and Kennywood.

  8. Harold West says:

    You forgot the kids book Goodbye Billy Radish. Set during WWi the town of Canaan is Duquesne by another name.

    • Jim says:

      Harry, you are correct! I am revising my post to include the book by Gloria Skurzynski from Duquesne!! Thanks for remembering!!!! – Jim

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