Beechview – Seldom Seen Greenway

The Seldom Seen Greenway is home to over 90 acres of undeveloped land in the city of Pittsburgh. It’s located off Route 51, near Saw Mill Run Boulevard. It is directly across the street from Brashear High School – right below Beechview and Mt. Washington.

Seldom Seen was actually a small village annexed by the city of Pittsburgh in 1924, and until the 1960s, the area was populated by a few families and farmhouses; families raised their own chickens and canned their own fruit. As people slowly moved out, the area escaped development. The forest has been virtually left untouched and allowed to grow and flourish, but the active Friends of the Greenway organize a biannual clean-up to keep it pristine.

According to a Tribune Review article:

“If you’re agile enough to go under or over the makeshift gate, (it’s there to keep out those who would use the area as a garbage dump) you can leave the noisy highway through the tunnel and stroll in a peaceful valley, with only the gentle lull of Saw Mill Run creek, bird calls and rustling leaves to enhance the silence. Trees hang over the creek from the shadowy cliffs, sheer enough for the Pittsburgh City rescue paramedics to practice rappelling.

“Around the bend is a thicket of trees, better reached from a steep path from behind Brashear High School. Here, Kathy and John Murphy, whose Beechview back yard edges on Seldom Seen, did a bird migration count for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania last December, identifying 81 birds.

To learn more about the fascinating history of this area, read the rest of Tribune Review article.

There has also been discussion about providing an “Emerald Link” – connecting trails – between Mt. Washington, Duquesne Heights, Allentown, South Side and Beechview. The plan was spearheaded by the Mt. Washington Development Corporation, and you can check out the status of the project or get involved here.

Until then, the trails and wildlife of Seldom Seen, only minutes away from downtown Pittsburgh, remain to be explored.

  • jon harangozo

    my mother grew up for awell inseldom seen iam 43 years old mymother 64 65 does not rember to much about it can i come there thanks

  • http://www.iheartpgh.com Natalia

    yes, jon – you can go there. :)

  • Amy Bianco

    I grew up in the Shadycrest area of Beechview. Even though my family moved in and out of the neighborhood, both my paternal and maternal grandparents stayed. I feel a special attachment to the Seldom Seen woods. I've been walking those trails and getting "lost" in adventure and imagination since I was 5 years old! My mom remembers some of the houses and farms that were there before the highschool was built. She conjured up such fascinating stories of the lost neighborhood of Seldom Seen , I would try to find it sometimes, but was never successful. Now, in my early thirties, I have been all through those woods. I was down there this morning navigating the cliffsides and carefully crossing the creek with a walking stick. It was a beautiful morning! The community is lucky to have a wooded area like Seldom Seen where generations have shared hours and hours of exploration and solace. Many other places have been cleared and developed while Seldom Seen remains sacred and shrouded in mystery.

  • b r

    I also grew up in Beechview and on several occasions went exploring Seldom Seen with my brother and friends. Though the greenway is split by Crane Avenue, the side near Brashear HS is that which always held wonder to us, with its many trails, plants and surprises. We always accessed from the highland, either through Tropical Park (where a well-marked trail leads towards Brashear HS) or from the fields above the school. Occasionally there would be someone walking their dog or hiking, but mostly you'd be on your own in nature. I recollect heading downhill through a field of tigerlilies during the summer and discovering an old railway overpass bridge down near Saw Mill run creek. The area is well-maintained, and though my brother and his friends remembered times in the 80's when there were old cars and tires around, these were removed by the early 90's when i went exploring. Truly a lovely place!

  • Benjamin

    I just moved to Beechview and have really enjoyed all the greenway has to offer. I was researching old maps to try and pin point exactly where Seldom-Seen used to be. I think I've firgured it out for the most part. The Road leading from 51 going under the tunnel was called Watkins road. It crossed the creek and continued up towards where Brashear now stands. There are other connecting paths that meander all through that area as marked on the map, none of which are named. The road connected to crane right where the entrance to Brashear is. I also found a bunch of abandoned streets across 51 on the mount washington side of the greenway. Also There was an incline railway right on the other side of banksville road leading up to right about where the parkway center mall is. cool stuff

  • Benjamin

    I am currently compiling a map of Seldom Seen. It looks as though there were three major components as to why the town died out.

    The Wabash railroad squeezed Watkins road and Saw Mill run into that narrow tunnel causing the road to continually be washed out.

    A new road, Vale St., was built under the other crossing of the railroad and saw mill run connecting to Mount Washington but then when Route 51 was built that road was razed too.

    The only access to Seldom Seen after Route 51 was built would have been to take Lowenhill Road off of crane into the woods behind where Brashear now stands but that road was steep and unpaved making navigating it very difficult.

    Once Brashear was built, the area was so isolated that residents no longer could manage living there. Emergency services had no way of reaching homes thus resulting in numerous destruction by fire.

    I have record of where all 20 or so buildings once stood. I think it would be interesting to survey the area and mark these spots.

    You too can see the record in old maps http://images.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/maps/showm

  • b r

    Very interesting findings, Benjamin! Since I've moved away from Beechview, when i come home, all the old haunts are feeling very nostalgic. even though i'd never seen any remnants of the houses in Seldom Seen, the map and your description helps a lot to visualize it. Nice work!

  • Kelly

    Hi, I would be very interested in your map Benjamin. When I tried to view the page it read error. Once I see your map I can confirm with you if you are right or wrong. You see my Great, Great, Grama and Great Gram and now Gram lived there. Actually she grew up there as a child. Please email me the map if you can. Thanks. Kellyandgrace@comcast.net

  • Walt Kusen

    I am so blessed to have found this site to read this moring, I want to say I am deeply moved when I see or hear comments on seldom seen. When I look back over all these years in my life it still brings tears to my eyes. For God has so blessed me to hold this place so dear to me in my heart and mind. I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your input on seldom seen. For I was one of the families that lived on watkins lane some 52 or 53 years ago! Having been born against my fathers will I was raised in poverty and poor This seldom seen was a place I played and lived with mother who did what she could for the benefit of my life. So once again as I leave you now I want to say thank you for this site and for all the comments here. God Bless You. Walt Kusen ( guido1@cox.net)

  • Walt Kusen

    I am so blessed to have found this site to read this moring, I want to say I am deeply moved when I see or hear comments on seldom seen. When I look back over all these years in my life it still brings tears to my eyes. For God has so blessed me to hold this place so dear to me in my heart and mind. I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your input on seldom seen. For I was one of the families that lived on watkins lane some 52 or 53 years ago! Having been born against my fathers will I was raised in poverty and poor This seldom seen was a place I played and lived with mother who did what she could for the benefit of my life. So once again as I leave you now I want to say thank you for this site and for all the comments here.rnrn God Bless You.rn Walt Kusen ( guido1@cox.net)

  • Walt Kusen

    I am so blessed to have found this site to read this moring, I want to say I am deeply moved when I see or hear comments on seldom seen. When I look back over all these years in my life it still brings tears to my eyes. For God has so blessed me to hold this place so dear to me in my heart and mind. I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your input on seldom seen. For I was one of the families that lived on watkins lane some 52 or 53 years ago! Having been born against my fathers will I was raised in poverty and poor This seldom seen was a place I played and lived with mother who did what she could for the benefit of my life. So once again as I leave you now I want to say thank you for this site and for all the comments here.

    God Bless You.
    Walt Kusen ( guido1@cox.net)