Woods Run Fishing Club

Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, Pittsburgh

river mile 1.5

River access: yes. Tree cover: open. Impervious surface: a lot. Landscape design strategy: State Park style. Information about the Ohio River: little to none.

There is a memorial here: a granite stone commemorating the sixteen members of the Woods Run Fishing Club, one of whom, John “Porky” Sapovchak, “The Duckman” has just died at the age of 64. The local councilman and the Donatelli Granite Company receive special thanks for their help in erecting it. So — what is this Woods Run Fishing Club? Online there is no mention of it, but its form suggests its meaning. There are a few stone steps down from the street, then a series of concrete pads along the shore, connected by steps of separated by small inlets. On them are several ducks and a couple of picnic tables.

The research team got here by turning down another improbable street towards the river, Doerr Street, just east of the Gothic stone bulk of what was once the Western Penetentiary. “Western” because there was another prison, “Eastern,” built in Philadephia at about the same time. The predecessor to this building, formerly located east of it, was the first prison built west of the Alleghenies and was a major Civil War prison. Charles Dickens, who visited it, may have based some of the characters in A Christmas Carol on what he saw there. That building was torn down and replaced by the present one in 1886. It served as the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh until 2005, when it was mothballed and then reopened as the Riverside Community Corrections Center. That facility was closed in January 2017. It awaits redevelopment.

So who were the Woods Run Fishing Club? Probably prison guards. Kayakers or campers probably would not want to stop here, due to the proximity of the prison, through there is a portapotty. It is a modest but pleasant spot.

Next park:  Chestnut Street Boat Ramp

Field research July 2016