Moss-Covered Trees by Saw Mill Run
Along the Tom the Tinker Trail
The Tom the Tinker Trail runs beside a gurgling stream through a narrow valley in the Kane Woods Nature Area. The trail is named for a fictional character in the Whiskey Rebellion: farmers who paid the whiskey tax would receive threatening notes signed “Tom the Tinker.”
Yes, there is a manhole cover in the middle of this idyllic scene. A sewer line runs down the hill through the stream valley.
All through the woods we can see evidence that there was once a little community tucked into this narrow valley. Above, a ruined foundation clings to the side of the gorge.
Saw Mill Run
Summer scenes in the middle of Saw Mill Run, which is a substantial river in the spring, but dries out enough in the summer to allow walking across it from rock to rock.
Sun and Shade
Patterns of sun and shade on the rocks in the middle of Saw Mill Run, Seldom Seen, with a railroad bridge in the background.
Seldom Seen Arch
This fine arched tunnel, stone faced with a brick interior, was built as part of the great Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway boondoggle, one of the boondoggliest boondoggles in a city known for boondoggles.
Just off Saw Mill Run Boulevard is a little parking lot. You have to look for it: it’s on the turnoff to Woodruff Street, and it’s almost invisible till you’re right there. From there you can reach the arch, which is well worth a visit for its own sake. The interior in particular is more interesting than interiors of tunnels usually are. The engineers had fun with this one.
If you walk through the tunnel into the green world beyond, you’ll find that you’re walking on a broad path of gravel and occasional asphalt. This was Watkins Lane, the only way into a little farm village called Seldom Seen, or Shalerville before that. Like a surprising number of isolated bits of the city of Pittsburgh, it remained a farming village, with farming, even into the twentieth century. It was abandoned by some time in the 1960s, and the forest has reclaimed it. We’ll see more of Seldom Seen in the future.
Stream valleys in the Pittsburgh area are valuable as being the only nearly level routes through the landscape, and you will never find a major stream valley without railroad tracks in it. But as we can see here, the Saw Mill Run valley has had three railroads in it at once, one of which is still active.
In the spring Saw Mill Run is often a raging torrent, but it is much more placid in the summer.
Here is a happy little stream in Mount Lebanon. It is very fashionable these days to take pictures of moving water with a slow shutter, so that the details around it are sharp but the water is blurred. Father Pitt just wanted you to know that he can do that, too, as you see; he normally avoids it because he thinks it is a cliché whose time should have passed about five years ago.
Camera: Canon PowerShot S45.