Volunteers sought to help clean Hampton trail, waterway

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Rachel Carson — author of “Silent Spring” — used to study the plants along this Hampton stream.

Painter John Buxton, renowned for his French and Indian War-era scenes, still uses the waterway as a backdrop for his depictions of Eastern American Indians.

Buxton also wonders — based on the journals of guide Christopher Gist — if George Washington once trod the banks of Crouse Run, too.

To help maintain the stream's pristine appearance, the Pine Creek Land Conservation Trust invites the public to observe Earth Day 2014 by helping local Cub Scouts clean up the trail that follows Crouse Run near the Tuscan Inn in Hampton.

Participants will gather at 10 a.m. April 26 by the restaurant's lower, gravel parking lot next to Wildwood Road.

“Just come and walk, and we'll give them information,” said Pine Creek Land Conservation trust member Liz Spence of Hampton, a retired Shaler Area history teacher, and president of the Hampton Community Library Board of Trustees.

Along the way, participants will remove debris from the trail and stream areas.

Spence urges people to wear boots for crossing the occasionally ankle-deep waters of Crouse Run. Bring gloves, too, and a plastic bag for collecting bottles, cans and other trash.

A green Pine Creek Land Conservation Trust sign in the Tuscan Inn's gravel parking lot marks the entrance to a stream crossing and the flat, wildflower-lined trail that follows Crouse Run through a valley between walls of exposed rock and lofty hemlock trees.

Pine Creek Land Conservation Trust owns about 17 acres of the valley that stretches 1.7 miles along Crouse Run between Wildwood and Sample roads. The acreage includes part of the Rachel Carson Trail.

A developer previously owned the 17 acres, and then turned it over to Hampton Township as open space.

In 1996, Hampton Township set aside the acreage as a nature reserve, and named Pine Creek Land Conservation Trust as conservator of the acreage.

“We started saving this in 1970,” said Pat Hare of Hampton, past president of the North Area Environmental Council, and widow of the late Clyde “Red” Hare, a freelance photographer for Life and National Geographic magazines.

People rallied to preserve the Crouse Run valley “because of the diversity of species,” Hare said, citing snow trillium among the valley's endangered species.

“This ravine is my baby,” said Hare, also a member of the Pine Creek Land Conservation Trust.

Days before Easter, trust member Spence pointed out emerging trout lilies, snowdrops and shoots of skunk cabbage in the valley.

“This place is home to a lot of pileated woodpeckers,” she said.

The Crouse Run valley also used to host a portion of the Pittsburgh, Harmony, Butler and New Castle Railway, a streetcar line.

The trolley tracks used to pass Bongiovanni's Gardens, a Prohibition-era speakeasy, which later became a popular dance hall near Wildwood Road.

“You've got a lot of history that's tied up there,” said Buxton, the painter, who lives atop a steep slope above Crouse Run.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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