Jennifer Sopko: A Pittsburgh-Based Writer With a Love of Local History

Jennifer Sopko Photo PTC No. 18Hello and welcome to my website!

I have worked as a professional writer, editor and historian in Western Pennsylvania for more than 18 years. Since 2003, I have written about the Ligonier Valley, Westmoreland County and Western Pennsylvania for several regional publications.

My current research is focused on local amusement parks, carousels and roller coasters, in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. Along with my roles as a magazine editor, contracted writer, public speaker and freelance reporter, I am also the author of two local history books published by The History Press:

Idlewild: History and Memories of Pennsylvania’s Oldest
Amusement Park

Ligonier Valley Vignettes: Tales from the Laurel Highlands (2013)

COMING SOON! I am currently working on a new book on lost amusement parks across Western Pennsylvania, slated for publication in 2022. CAN YOU HELP? Contact me to share your photographs, stories and memories!

Eldora Park
Figure 8 roller coaster at the long-gone Eldora Park in Carroll Township, PA. Courtesy of the Donora Historical Society.

10 thoughts on “Jennifer Sopko: A Pittsburgh-Based Writer With a Love of Local History”

  1. I came upon your book Ligonier Valley Vignettes at the local library and greatly enjoyed reading it. It reminded me of growing up in Latrobe in the 40s and 50s. I remember well Harry’s Danceland and working at the Latrobe Valley Dairy making skyscraper ice cream cones. As a grade school kid a big part of every Saturday was going to either Latrobe’s Manos, Grand or Olympic Theaters for 20 cents to see the afternoon double feature which we kids would sit through twice.This was followed by going through G C Murphy’s toy department playing with every toy. Also traveling the whole way to Ligonier and Nick Gallo’s or the Kingston Dam for swimming was a great treat. Or you could ride the single railroad car called the “dinkie” of the Ligonier Valley Railroad along the Loyalhanna Creek to Idlewild. Thinking back to those days I wish you would write a Latrobe Vignettes book. I think you would find a lot of people very interested in reading such a book.

    Wishing you the best in your writing,
    Jerry B

    1. Hi Jerry! Thank you very much for your kind message! I am so glad you enjoyed my book and even more pleased that it sparked some memories for you. I would love to hear more about your growing up in this area. Do you still live in the area? An acquaintance of mine is writing a book on Latrobe locals I believe, but that’s a great idea for a Latrobe vignettes book! Thank you again for your wonderful message – it’s much appreciated! And feel free to share more memories! 🙂

  2. Hello Jennifer:
    My interests in the area would be: Ligonier history, including the LVRR…..Stoystown history….Lincoln Highway between Stoystown and Ligonier….Item: Note of the rail car mentioned above….It was also called the “Doodlebug”……I have photos of both of them. I found them on the internet. I did not take them. But I watched it come in from Latrobe and drop off the {I believe it was}, The Latrobe Bulletin, in the late afternoon, when I was visiting there as a young person.
    Quentin Mong
    Muncie, In.

    1. Thanks for your message Quentin! It’s nice to hear from yet another reader interested in Ligonier history! And the Lincoln Highway! Did you grow up in Pennsylvania originally ? Glad to hear you tracked down some pictures of a LGV Doodlebug! I didn’t know the railroad delivered the Latrobe Bulletin – very neat! 🙂

  3. Jennifer, I have some postcards and a few other items from Oakford Park if you are still looking for things for your book. I also have a lot of items from Idlewild Park, even though you’ve already done a book about that. Let me know if you are interested. Thank you.

    1. Hi Mark! Absolutely. I do have some Oakford Park images but any different ones are much appreciated! Also with Idlewild – that will be a lifelong research subject so I’m always interested in more info about that park, too. Thank you!

  4. Do you have any pictures of Burk’s Glenn in its heyday? Used to go swimming there and had picnics there in the 1950’s.

    1. Hello! I do have some pictures but am always looking for more rare and never-before-seen images. I’d also love to hear your memories of swimming and having picnics at Burke Glenn. Could we email or talk over the phone? Thank you!

  5. Hi Jennifer…we used to go to Rainbow Gardens al ot when we were kids..I know my father took a lot of pictures and if i can find them would u be interested in those?Please let me know,,,thank you

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