Friday, July 7, 2017

Flight 93 National Memorial

June 29, 2017

Our second stop on the trip west is in New Florence Pennsylvania. We chose the area because it is at the center of 3 National Park Service sites that we want to visit. 

We arrived at Mirror Lake RV Park in mid afternoon and were directed to a site that backed right up to a trout stream.  It was a delightful spot.

We asked for restaurant advice from the park manager and were directed to Dave and Carol’s Roadhouse in the nearby Ligonier. It was a great Birthday dinner and bonus! Fred discovered Iron City Ale.
Ligonier is a small city with a vibrant downtown full of shops
and restaurants and a city park complete with gazebo. We never found the time to stop and walk around but it looked like fun.

The Flight 93 Visitor Center sits high on a hill and can be seen from miles away.
The next day we drove to rural Shanksville Pennsylvania, about an hour away.
Shanksville is the site of the Flight 93 National Memorial.
It is a tribute to the 40 passengers and crew of the plane that left Newark, New Jersey that morning and at 1003 overwhelmed hijackers causing the plane to crash into the countryside.
We started our tour at the Visitor Center where exhibits brought back all of the memories of September 11, 2001.

We watched the newscasts of that terrible day and remembered where we were and what we were doing when the world changed.

We listened to the voices of passengers as they called their family members to say goodbye with tears running down our faces.

We looked at artifacts from the debris field and imagined the horror that those passengers felt, wondering if we would have the courage to do the same.

View from the trail. The white structure is the wall of names  The boulder is at the tree line beyond it.

The Visitor Center sits on a hill overlooking the crash site. The views from the windows and outdoor observation deck are incredible. There is a winding trail down to the debris field which is marked by a large boulder. The path passes the place where family members observed the recovery effort and built a temporary memorial.

Near the boulder we found the Wall of Names. The wall is made up of 40 tall white marble tablets, each one inscribed with the name of a passenger or crew member. The Visitor Center and the Wall of Names are both positioned in the flight path of flight 93.

Fred reading the Wall of Names
Beyond the debris field is a Memorial Plaza that leads to a Visitor Shelter where exhibits explain the construction of the monument.

This boulder was added to mark the crash site.
We were told that the crash site was once a strip mine. I would never have recognized that. The entire area has been landscaped and planted with grasses and wildflowers native to Pennsylvania.

Native grasses and wildflowers cover the old strip mine.
The trail on the other side of the Visitor shelter was closed for maintenance on the day of our visit.
That trail called an Allee passes 40 groves of trees and over a wetland area via the Wetlands Bridge.
There are plans to build a Tower of Voices. This tower will contain 40 chimes. Construction is anticipated to begin within the next 2 years.
The Flight 93 Memorial is a well thought out design full of symbolism and personal stories. The families of the victims were very involved in the planning. That involvement kept the Memorial focused on the heroic efforts of the passengers and crew of Flight 93.
We are glad to have gone but needed some time to recover after the experience.
Driving home we noticed signs for the Glessner Covered Bridge and took a 20 mile detour to find it.

Glessner covered bridge 
The one lane bridge constructed in 1881 crosses the Stonycreek River. It reminded us of some that we have seen in Vermont and New Brunswick, Canada. We enjoyed a brief stop and then a drive home on unpaved country back roads. The views from the top of the mountains and deep into the valleys are spectacular. They helped to soothe our sadness.

Flight 93 National Memorial
6424 Lincoln Highway
Shanksville, Pennsylvania
open daily 9-5

Glessner Covered Bridge
Covered Bridge Road
Shanksville, Pennsyvania
Be careful we ended up with a flat tire on the dirt roads.


  1. We were there in 2006 before the memorial was built. It was a moving experience then; I imagine it is much moreso now. Great post, Bonnie!

    1. When you were there was the Memorial the large fence with the angels and plaques? The park service saved those items on the fence before taking it down. Sadly many of them were destroyed when the storage building caught on fire.

  2. I was fortunate to lead the Leadership Development Program for the Pittsburgh Corps of Engineers. We were led through the project on two separate occasions and were able to see areas not open to the public, as well as hear the story of the building of the Memorial. The families of the victims were fully engaged in the entire process.