Ohiopyle, From Another Angle

A Bohemian is an individual that practices an unconventional lifestyle. Rarely having permanent ties, this group of people who commonly move together, can be from any part of the world as long as they believe in pursuing freedom in art, music, literature, and often spirituality.

When one thinks of Ohiopyle, their minds quite often jump not to the people, and the culture of the tiny town, but merely to the awe-inspiring river. We hope to change that. Ohiopyle has a long history, dating back to the 1800s, when it served as a tourist spot for Pittsburgh tourists on the weekends. It never drew in the world at large, like it has today, until 1964, when the first rafting company opened. This company, Wilderness Voyageurs, revolutionized the business and tourism aspect of the town. Due to the rise of W.V. and similar rafting companies like it, Ohiopyle itself seemed to have a culture shift. At first glance, this culture would seem reminiscent of “hippie” culture from the 60s, however after speaking to the current owner of W.V., Eric Martin, as well as a former owner of another rafting company, MSNT, our very own Mrs. McCarty, it seems quite the opposite is true.

Every summer, the rafting companies hire scores of river guides, who very often display the aforementioned bohemian personality traits. They only stay for the summer and while there, often live in communal bunk houses with their fellow guides. Furthermore, these guides come from all over the country, bringing unique tastes and cultures into the small community.

In a similar vain as the river guides, many of the businesses in the town are seasonal, meaning that they only operate in the summer months. You won’t find any Gucci stores while there because during the winter, the town is essentially abandoned; operating costs would outstrip the handful of people that actually bought product. So in order to make enough profit to last over the winter, stores must sell things either cheap enough to move large amounts, or unique enough to justify the cost, such as destination hoodies. The perfect example of this mass movement is the store “Oddly Enough,” who’s inventory looks like what you would expect to find in the back of a Volkswagen Type 2 at Woodstock. They expertly use the iconic tie-dye as not only a cheap and easy way to make shirts, but also display the uniqueness of the store and their town.

The last major reason we found for its bohemian nature is so simple that even the natives relate to. Many of the tourists come from crowded urban sprawls, quite the opposite of Ohiopyle, which still resembles what it did in the early 20th century, people and all. You can walk down the street, look someone in the eye, greet them good morning and expect one in return. This may seem obvious to many locals but it is a welcome surprise to most who visit.

As you can see, Ohiopyle isn’t an attempt to recapture the magic of the 60s, which widely rejected capitalist influences in an attempt to rekindle a connection with nature, but instead because of business necessities, does both. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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