One of the most outstanding buildings of northern Armstrong County was the Bridge View Hotel built overlooking the Allegheny River in Mosgrove, Rayburn Township, Armstrong County.
The Bridge View Hotel, with its 45 rooms and a bar, attracted hundreds of tourists from Pittsburgh, who made the trip on the Pennsylvania Railroad and on the sternwheeler “Nellie Hudson” when water conditions were favorable, to experience a quiet vacation overlooking the beautiful Allegheny River. John Henry Rebold built the Bridge View Hotel in 1901. In 1902, John Rebold moved to Oklahoma where he amassed a fortune in drilling for oil and natural gas. His brother-in-law, William A. Heinrich operated the hotel for John for four years. At some point, H. B. McKinney became the proprietor, as the ad at the left shows. It was published in the Butler Citizen in 1906. Later John Rebold’s son Grant became the proprietor of the hotel.
Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company had a coal mine near Mosgrove that supplied fuel for power generating at their Ford City plate glass works. In 1913, West Penn Power began supplying the glass works with electricity. The result was the closing of the coal mine. The bar at the hotel must have depended greatly on the local coal miners, as when the mine closed, business slackened greatly as the miners moved from the area.
The hotel owned a thirty-passenger boat which was used to transport fishermen and picnickers to an island near the location currently occupied by Lock and Dam No. 8. Fishing in the Allegheny River at that time was great and many anglers caught bass, walleye, northern pike and muskellunge by the bucket full.
The Bridge View Hotel was so named as the ornate balconies faced the Allegheny River over which the BR&P railroad trestle spanned as seen in the photo bottom left. The trestle could be easily seen from the balconies and hotel patrons marveled at the trains as they crossed the trestle. This, as you can see, was prior to the locks and dams being built on the Allegheny River in the 1940’s. As of this writing, the railroad that crosses the trestle remains active.
Notable among the returning visitors, was the famous orator and presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, who stayed at the Bridge View several times. Bryan claimed he got more rest here than anywhere else in the country. He always wanted the corner room facing Pine Creek. There was a hemlock tree near the window, and he liked the scent of hemlock and the breeze from the creek.
The photo on the left shows the Bridge View Hotel from the BR&P trestle that crossed the Allegheny River at Mosgrove.
On November 4, 1914, the beautiful Bridge View Hotel caught fire and burned to the ground in less than an hour and a half. The suspected cause was a defective flue on one of the heating stoves. The intense flames damaged many nearby homes and burned the forest a fourth of a mile up Pine Creek. Estimated damage to the building was $25,000.
Sometime after the devastating fire, a new structure was constructed on the stone foundation of the old Bridge View Hotel. That building, still exists today and can be seen in Mosgrove at the mouth of Pine Creek. It appears to be a private residence.