Butler's Preston Park a good place to enjoy the scenery
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The iron and brick gates that sit near the entrance to Preston Park are a bit misleading.
They look as if they should guard a sprawling mansion, and at one time Dr. Frank Preston envisioned just such a thing.
As the story goes, however, his wife Jane nixed the idea because the couple only spent six months a year in their Butler County home and the rest of the time traveling.
Now, the gates sit before a grassy patch of land on the 88-acre park left to Butler Township three years ago.
A strong network of volunteers now works to improve and manage the park as well as bring their knowledge of the history of the grounds to visitors.
Between Preston Park and connected Saw Mill Park there are approximately five miles of hiking trails to enjoy.
The terrain at Preston is not challenging from an exercise standpoint, but the grounds are peaceful and contain enough unique vegetation and plentiful wildlife to make it a more than worthwhile trip.
The park once was the home to Preston Laboratories, a glass science research facility that Dr. Preston built in 1936, as well as the residence of the scientist and his wife.
Preston also was an avid ecologist and ornithologist and modeled the grounds after the gardens of his native England.
Little about the property has changed since 1959. Preston died in 1989 followed in 2008 by his wife, who left a memorandum as to how the land should be maintained.
Today, there is an arboretum that is home to 40 species of pine trees, and the park also features seven “state champion” trees that are the tallest in the state, including Ponderosa Pine, Serbian Spruce, Nobel Fir and Leana Oak.
These trees are marked with pink ribbon and also are numbered and noted on the trail maps available at the entrance to the park.
Also available is a schedule of when the various flowers on the grounds are in bloom, including the daffodils and narcissus that now dot the park. Fox glove and Japanese pieris soon will be in bloom, followed by azaleas, rhododendron and lily of the valley.
Other features of the park include a small lily pond behind the laboratory building and a lake where one can currently spot at least three geese tending their nests on tiny islands.
A blue heron also frequents the 5.5-acre pond, which is home to catfish, bass, sunfish and blue gill. Catch-and-release fishing is permitted.
The trails are wide, well-marked and neatly maintained and in the winter are ideal for cross-country skiing.
Biking, however, is extremely limited and not encouraged on the property.
Preston Park is recognized by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tours are available at various times throughout the year and anyone interested should call 724-283-3430, ext. 212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Outdoors notebook: Legislation would impact sportsmen
- Outdoor notices: May 25, 2015
- Impounded portion of Allegheny proving hotspot for muskies
- Fishing report: Trout still plentiful, but other action also beginning
- Outdoor notices: May 24, 2015
- Outdoors notebook: Lake Arthur boat launch revamped
- Frye: Taking aim at DMAP permits