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Latrobe to Mars (Home Of The "Fightin' Planets") To Moon To Paris To Weirton

Fairfield Inn

Weirton, West Virginia

May 18, 2022

As you can see from the above map, I spent yesterday in the Pittsburgh area. I wish I were better at describing what I see/saw. Narrow roads with houses close to the curb -- if there was a curb. The houses for the most part looked weathered and worn. Lots of machine parts businesses adding to the industrial look of the area.

My first stop was Mars -- and it was more than I expected. "The only one on Earth." I enjoyed how the town embraced its name. I stopped into a print shop looking for a sticker -- none to be found. I suggested they would sell a lot of them and the owner seemed very interested in the idea.

From Wikipedia:

Mars is a borough in Butler County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,699 at the 2010 census.


Mars is located in southern Butler County at 40°41′48″N 80°0′44″W (40.696594, -80.012205) about halfway between the cities of Pittsburgh and Butler. The small community is nestled in a small valley along Breakneck Creek. Pennsylvania Route 228 bypasses the borough to the south, leading east 4 miles (6 km) to Pennsylvania Route 8 and west 5 miles (8.0 km) to Interstates 79 and 76 in Cranberry Township. The Mars-Evans City Road leads out of town to the north.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough of Mars has a total area of 0.5 square miles (1.2 km2), all land.

Mars is home to the popular roadside attraction the Mars "Spaceship" or "Flying Saucer".

It is also home to the Mars Station, one of the last railroad depots still standing from the now defunct Pittsburgh and Western Railroad.


In 1873, Samuel Parks constructed a home and a water-powered gristmill along Breakneck Creek. Parks decided to have a post office placed in his home, so he received help from his friend Samuel Marshall to help establish it. The name of the post office became Overbrook.[7] In 1877, the Pittsburgh, New Castle and Lake Erie Railroad was constructed through Overbrook, and had a station built there. In 1882, the name of the community was changed to Mars since the railroad already had a stop with the name "Overbrook". No one is sure how the name "Mars" came into being. Some say it was Park's wife who enjoyed astronomy, while others believe it was shortened after Samuel Marshall's name.[8] On March 6, 1895, Mars was incorporated as a borough.

In 1904, the Pittsburgh and Butler Street Railway gained permission from Mars to construct its right-of-way through the borough. The line become part of the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler and New Castle Railway in 1917, being renamed Pittsburgh, Mars and Butler Railway. The line closed in 1931.

The USS Mars (AFS-1) was named after the borough. The ship became part of the United States Pacific Fleet in 1963, and was decommissioned in 1998. It was then sunk in 2006 as a target vessel. The bell of the USS Mars was donated to the borough and has become a permanent memorial in the downtown park.


The Mars Area School District serves the boroughs of Mars and Valencia, as well as Adams Township and Middlesex Township in Butler County. The Mars Fightin' Planets are one of the many teams located in the north Pittsburgh area.


As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 1,746 people, 687 households, and 395 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,906.5 people per square mile (1,498.1/km²). There were 715 housing units at an average density of 1,599.7 per square mile (613.5/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 98.68% White, 0.46% African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.40% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.11% from other races, and 0.23% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.40% of the population.

There were 687 households, out of which 25.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.4% were non-families. 38.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 24.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the borough the population was spread out, with 18.6% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 33.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 70.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 64.2 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $33,073, and the median income for a family was $46,136. Males had a median income of $34,083 versus $26,080 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $17,701. About 7.8% of families and 9.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under age 18 and 14.4% of those age 65 or over.


Because of its unique name, and proximity to Pittsburgh, Mars has on occasion received national media attention. In 2011, a representative from The Walt Disney Company invited students from Mars Elementary School to attend the Pittsburgh premiere of Mars Needs Moms, after reading a featured article on the town by Mars was the only school nationwide invited to the film's premiere.

The borough has also been a location for films and television commercials. The 1988 comedy-drama film The Prince of Pennsylvania and the 1996 comedy film Kingpin were filmed throughout the borough. In 2000, a Kraft salad dressing commercial was filmed in downtown.

Canadian musician John Southworth named his first album Mars, Pennsylvania after the town, which he had passed through many years earlier on a school trip.

Mars was the inspiration for the fictional town of Athena, Pennsylvania, the setting for the 2015 fictional trilogy, Benjamin's Field, by local author J. J. Knights.

Next stop, Moon, PA.

Moon Township is a township along the Ohio River in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States. Moon is a part of the Pittsburgh Metro Area and is located 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Pittsburgh. The population was 24,185 at the 2010 census.


Early history (1756–1773)

The initial settlement of Moon Township was a direct result of the westward expansion of English settlers and traders who arrived in the Ohio Valley in the early to mid-18th century. During the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War), the Iroquois, who controlled the land for hunting grounds through right of conquest, ceded large parcels of southwestern Pennsylvania lands through treaty or abandonment to settlers. In some cases, the land was already occupied by squatters who were to be forced off the land.

In the face of this turmoil, Native American settlements of the south bank of the Ohio River typically relocated to more populous areas of the north bank in the current locales of Sewickley and Ambridge.

On the southern banks of the Ohio, political disputes among settlers clouded the disposition of lands. Generally, the Pennsylvania Land Office apportioned land to owners through grants. But, some of the land encompassing what is now the Coraopolis Heights, Thorn Run valley, and Narrows Run valley were claimed through the process of "Tomahawk Improvements", a non-specific and oftentimes contested method. Settlement processes were often convoluted because of differences among land policies of the several colonies claiming the land, specifically Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Each colony had its own means of either granting or restricting settlement opportunities. Each settler claiming land in what is now Moon Township had to go through a multi-level process of application for grant, warrant of property, and survey to ensure the physical boundaries of the property, and patent approval whereby the applicant paid for the land and title was conferred.

On April 3, 1769, Andrew Montour, an Indian interpreter who had provided service to the English settlers during the French and Indian War, was granted one of the first land patents for approximately 350 acres (1.4 km2) of what later became the borough of Coraopolis and Neville Island. In 1773, the settler John Meek was awarded a 400-acre (1.6 km2) land grant from Virginia above the river bottom and between the Thorn Run and Montour Run valleys, and "Moon Township" was born, although formal, legal recognition would have to wait until 1788.

Settlement times (1773–1799)

The settlers Robert Loudon and John Vail were awarded grants to a total of 600 acres (2.4 km2). Loudon's tract was situated on the Coraopolis Heights adjacent to the Meek grant. Vail's grant was established between the current Thorn Run and Narrows Run valleys (although the exact location is open to some interpretation).

Three other early grants were warranted by either Virginia or Pennsylvania land speculators. The boundaries of these land tracts are hard to identify, and the names of the original grantees are contested. But historians believe that they encompassed about 700 acres (2.8 km2) or so, and were occupied by anonymous squatters. Given that the history is somewhat hazy, it remains that in abandoning their lands, the unidentified squatters ceded any potential claims to settlers who would otherwise improve and/or cultivate the land.

As the 18th century drew to a close, abandoned lands were taken up by new settlers who were drawn to the region by the fertility of the soil. This round of pioneers were, by and large, wealthier than their predecessors and had the means to develop the broken and hilly areas into plots suitable for farming.

Moon Township was created in 1788 as one of the original townships of the newly created Allegheny County. In 1789 by an act of the legislature a portion of Washington County south of the Ohio River was transferred to Allegheny County.[5] The transferred area became part of Moon Township.

At this time Moon Township occupied an enormous tract of land – possibly 145 square miles (380 km2). Some reports and, more often, legends of the time indicate that it would take one man on horseback two days to travel between the boundaries of the township. The sheer difficulty of settlers performing their civic duties (e.g., reporting to assigned polling places or attending jury trials) made it necessary for local governing authorities to parcel out the land into smaller municipalities. So, in 1790, the current Fayette Township was portioned off from Moon Township, to be followed by Findlay and Crescent townships, respectively.

In 1800 when Beaver County was created from Allegheny and Washington Counties that portion of Beaver County south of the Ohio River that it received from Allegheny County was in Moon Township. Upon the creation of Beaver County that portion of Moon Township that Allegheny County lost to Beaver County was divided into two new townships: First Moon and Second Moon Townships, Beaver County.[7]

1900s to present

In 1943, the federal government designed and built a housing plan known as Mooncrest for defense workers. Mooncrest residents produced armor plates, munitions and ships at the nearby Dravo Corp. during World War II. Operated by the U.S. Air Force after 1945, homes were sold to private investors in the mid-1950s.

Moon became home to Pittsburgh's modern-day airport in 1951, replacing the Allegheny County Airport as the main terminal for the region. The area developed mainly due to the airport. Prior to this time, the western hills of Allegheny County consisted largely of rolling farms and small residential developments. On April 1, 1956, TWA Flight 400 crashed on takeoff from the airport, killing 22 people just past the east end of the runway, which lies in Moon Township.

During the Cold War, Moon Township was the location of Nike Site PI-71, which was a battery of Nike Ajax and/or Nike Hercules surface-to-air missiles, used by US armed forces for high – and medium-altitude air defense. The former missile site is now a nature preserve.

Development of Pennsylvania Route 60 (now Interstate 376) to the Pittsburgh airport, plus the addition of the Parkway West from Pittsburgh and nearby exits of Interstate 79, allowed Moon to become the area's crossroads for transportation via air and road.

In 1991, the relocation of the landside terminal of the Pittsburgh International Airport to nearby Findlay Township resulted in a loss in traffic to the township. Moon experienced a significant loss of tax revenues but has since rebounded as the cargo area for the airport.

A large part of the airport's runways and facilities are located within the boundary of Moon Township, although the terminal and about half of the airport's land area are in Findlay Township, to the west.

The township is home to the Air Force Reserve 911th Airlift Wing,[8] which was established in 1943. Moon is also home to the 171st Air Refueling Wing of the Pa. Air National Guard. Additionally, the Army has its 99th Regional Readiness Command, built in the late 1990s in Moon Township.

Since the loss of the airport terminal, the township has shifted its focus from airport commerce to corporate development, residences and university hub. The main campus of Robert Morris University is also located within the township.

Major corporation headquarters like Nova Chemicals, FedEx Ground, and First Health/Coventry are located in Moon.

Moon Township is the location of the National Weather Service forecast office that serves Pittsburgh.

From Moon, it was on to Paris, Pennsylvania and then to Weirton, West Virginia for the night.

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