Have you ever passed a mural or artwork along Route 6 and wondered what its story was?
Why are Pittsburgh Steelers painted all over the side of a garage along Route 6N just west of Edinboro? Who is responsible for the buildings, cars, hot air balloons, people, animals, trees, hills, roller coaster and more made of road signs along Route 6 in south Meadville?
The new PA Route 6 Public Art & Mural Trail has answers for you.
“You can learn a lot just by looking closely at a mural or piece of art. They each have a story or meaning, and more often than not they are wrapped up in the history of the towns they are located in,” said Erin Morey . who worked on the trail for the PA Route 6 Alliance and also serves as its Artisan Trail Coordinator.
This is true of the Union City Cultural Heritage mural at 28 S. Main St., Union City. According to the webpage for the Public Art & Mural Trail, the Union City mural was created by artists Tom Ferraro and Steve Mik and “commemorates the 150th anniversary of the naming of Union City in 1871 by paying tribute to the community’s rich cultural heritage and reflects the town’s manufacturing, milling, agricultural and recreational traditions, as well as its most celebrated natural resource – French Creek.”
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The Union City mural is featured with the others on an interactive online map that is part of the PA Route 6 Alliance’s website. The map shows the location of each mural and art piece. Visitors to the website can click on the map to find the address of each stop on the route as well as photos and a description of what is at each location.
The PA Route 6 Alliance is a nonprofit organization established in 2003 to manage the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor and to implement branding and marketing plans, community development programs and other planning efforts along it. Alliance executive director Candace Hillyard said it covers Pennsylvania’s 427 miles of Route 6/Route 6N in 11 counties: Erie, Crawford, Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Wayne and Pike.
“It’s one of America’s first transcontinental highways,” Hillyard said of Route 6, adding that it has been designated a heritage corridor.
Although Route 6 does not go through the City of Erie, Route 6 and Route 6N cross southern Erie County, making the entire county part of the corridor, Hillyard said. That’s why a handful of murals in the city are already among the more than 55 on the Public Art and Mural Trail. The Erie murals so far include the Perry 200 Memorial Mural in the 1100 block of State Street and the Erie Industry Mural in the 300 block of West 12th Street.
Route 6 does go through the City of Corry, but the route’s History of Corry mural is a little south of the highway at 26 N. Center St., near the center of town.
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Hillyard said the alliance is looking for murals and art that tell stories about the history and heritage of communities in the Route 6 corridor.
“We’ll keep adding to it,” Hillyard said of the route.
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Morey spent months researching the murals and art pieces that were already there. She said she enjoyed learning about each one through the process.
“Before starting this project, I was completely unaware of the many murals that adorn our towns and cities,” said Morey. “I have come to appreciate the process and dedication of the artists and communities involved in making each of these public art displays possible. My hope is that others viewing this trail will feel the same appreciation.”
According to information gathered for the project, the Steelers mural at 5560 Route 6N, Edinboro, celebrates the Pittsburgh football team’s Super Bowl victories and was created by George Humes on a building owned by Dana Volkman, “a collector of all things Steelers”. The existing mural replaces an earlier Steelers one that was damaged in a fire.
The interactive map also indicates that it was Allegheny College art students who repurposed road signs to create the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation road sculpture known as “Read Between the Signs.” It is located on PennDOT property at 18492 Smock Highway, also known as Routes 6, 19 and 322 in Meadville.
To access the PA Route 6 Public Art & Mural Trail interactive map, visit paroute6.com/public-art-and-mural-trail.
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