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What the Lehecka? Exploring visible landmarks in Johnstown

JOHNSTOWN – For the first installment of a new segment Thursday, I looked into some highly visible landmarks in Johnstown.

Many of you probably already know the stories, but for some of you, hopefully you’ll learn something new.

Driving on Menoher Boulevard, you can see there's a large stone arch that's hard to miss. It sits in a pull-off along the side of road just before entering the city.

But why is it there? Local historian Richard Burkert explains.

"This was a later addition to the Grandview Cemetery," said Burkert, the president and CEO of Johnstown Area Heritage Association.

Before Menoher Boulevard was built, the switchback road to enter Grandview Cemetery passed through this arch built in 1910.

“Went through this arch and then cut back and forth through the second arch that honored Daniel Morale," Burkert said.

Morale was the general manager of the Cambria Iron Company and his daughter, Anna Morale Chapin, is the one the arch on Menoher is named in honor of.

“More than 20 years ago, this arch was endangered,” Burkert said.

Parts of the arch were crumbling and several organizations came together to make the area to a little park.

Just down the hill sits another piece of history -- a fountain. It was moved from its original location.

“It was brought to Sandyvale two years ago and it took two years to investigate how to repair the base,” said Diana Kabo, secretary and event/educational programming coordinator at Sandyvale,

It was a gift to Johnstown in 1914 to memorialize the lives lost in the 1889 flood.

But it also served a purpose the Sandyvale Memorial Gardens are working to restore.

“The fountain that people would drink out of, and below this is a small fountain for pets,” Kabo said.

It's something we found will still be useful to pups today.

The other side of the fountain features a large a trough for the horse drawn carriages that passed through.

“We need to keep telling these stories and passing on the history before it gets lost,” Kabo said.

A more recent addition to the Johnstown area lays along the hill of the incline.

"James Wolfe sculptures were made in 88-89," Burkert said.

Scattered between the trees are nine sculptures made to commemorate the Johnstown Flood centennial.

"We took it to the next level and hired someone who actually used products like scraps from the Bethlehem Steel mill," Burkert said.

After almost 30 years of wear and tear the sculptures will be getting a face lift this coming spring.

You can send me your ideas for a “What the Lehecka?” segment by tweeting me at @wxlehecka, messaging me on my Facebook page or emailing me at news@wjactv.com.

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