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The history of the Allison Park Sportsman Club by Roy Grau

I mentioned Roy at the October meeting. He was a long time member of the club as was his father. The following is a write up Roy did on the history of the Allison Park Sportsmen's Club and the clubs efforts around cleaning up Pine Creek. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.


1962 Allison Park Sportsman Club was started with 15 members and in the first few years there was much interest with hunter safety and with shooting. Hunter safety courses were held for many years at least through the 1980’s at various fire halls in the Hampton Shaler Area. There was also interest in shooting and small bore shoots were held in the Burger property across from the Hampton Municipal building in the 1970,s. The club was given permission to start developing a shooting range on the Hampton Township property at McCully Rd and members did spend some time cleaning an area for that to occur. This was a time when rifle marksmanship was something to aspire to unlike much of what is thought of today. Nevertheless, something happened from the township and the idea was nixed. The club held it’s first monthly meetings in the Hampton Municipal Building for many years until that two was cancelled by the township. Meetings were usually accompanied by an outdoor video with coffee and doughnuts which progressed to hot foods. From the municipal building the club found a home to meet at the Hampton Township Depreciation Museum. Some of the members that really devoted much time to the club concerning the start up and shooting were George Lorch, Ben Trew Jim Sweeny and Roy Grau Jr. Later as the club transitioned to more stream improvement the members who were very active in the 1980’s and 1990’s were George Lorch, Chuck Kolich, Jack Kobus, Roy Grau Jr, Ron and Don (President) Bartholomew, Dick Knox, Bill Stump (he was always the cook) Roy Grau III (Treasurer), Billy Felder, Rich Neumann, Dan Wagner (President) and Sam Bacco. This is not a complete list of the many volunteers who put countless hours in stream improvement projects, creek cleanups, float stockings and fund raisers which raised thousands of dollars. Fun raisers were raffles with tickets that were sold at the annual Allegheny County Sportsman’s show where prizes that were donated from fishing companies were raffled.

Roy Grau Jr back row 2nd from right, Roy Grau III back row 3rd from right

When the club started working on Pine Creek stream improvement, the creek was what amounted to an open sewer with a few minnows, snakes and crayfish. If there was an area with car access, rubbish would line the banks.It was a real eyesore. A few words by someone that mentioned about cleaning the creek is what started it all. Much of this work was led by George Lorch who spent countless hours planning and orchestrating the clean up and stream improvements. The club as well as the community does not realize the time and effort George donated. In the 1990’s, the club passed a motion to have Pine Creek renamed after George Lorch but it got nixed by some law.

1965 A partial cleanup was made. 1966 Additional cleanups took place. Pine Creek started looking like it might be made into something other than a dumping spot 1967 Ralph Able who was an official with the Boy Scouts (later PA Fish Commissioner) was contacted for stream work. He was very cooperative and 300-400 Scouts arrived in three or four bus loads along with many cars.. They were all sent to different parts of the stream and to pick garbage that was placed into garbage piles to be removed. Pine Creek was really starting to look like a stream not a garbage dump. Further work was extended as Allegheny County Director of Parks was contacted for permission to clean up Pine Creek within North Park. In the fall, , Tom Qualters, PA Fish Commission in Somerset was contacted about starting stream improvements work on Pine Creek. Through 1967 and 1968, many Girl and Boy Scouts were involved in assisting cleaning up the creek. 1969 On March 8, Tom Qualters along with Paul Sowers, Waterways Patrolman visited the stream. Water quality tests were taken by the PA Fish Commission and the results were promising. The commission explained how water deflectors would improve the stream by moving the water faster and cutting narrower channels. Specifically they were to create a better pool riffle ratio, lower water temperature and create scouring action that will help flush silt from the stream. On June 24, a water quality survey was conducted on Pine Creek. The survey was conducted to know if Pine Creek could be stocked on an experimental basis. 1970 On March 23, Pine Creek was stocked with 1,500 trout. The stocked section was from the Spillway to Gorehead Run in Allison Park a distance of 6.5 miles. It was quite an event for members and for residents in the area. The hard work had paid off.


Seems like they had the same weather we get for trout stockings



On June 20 another cleanup was started and more stream devices were installed on the creek. Ten deflectors were installed on the stream but they were vandalized. The they were rebuilt; one as many as fifteen times. Chuck Kolich was appointed Conservation Officer of the club. He contacted every property owner on the creek and did a tremendous job cleaning the stream up. He was also named conservation officer for the Allegheny County Conservation District.


I think we are still using this truck

1971 George Lorch noticed read water seeping into the creek near the Wildwood Mine. The seepage was found to be coming from many places around the mine. The mine was shut down in 1968 and was filling with water. Consequently, the water pressure in the mine was pushing the iron water to the surface. Within a week, Pine Creek had turned red. Many individuals in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and DER became involved. Commissioner Tom Foerster did an outstanding job to have this problem resolved. Through his efforts, Foerster the mine was sealed by the mine owner and DEP at a cost of $85,000. The mine was sealed in the late winter of 1972. However It was known by those that understood the situation that this would only prolong the problem. Two weeks later, the water broke out in many places and Pine Creek once again turned red. The Fish Commission decided they would not stock below the mine. As this was happening, the Hampton Sewer Authority was starting to install a sewer system in the stream bed. This created quite a mess of silt and mud. With the combination of sewer and mine seepage, Pine Creek looked like it was doomed. 1972 A jack dam was installed in Pine Creek just above Hemlock Bridge. The dam was built in one day by about 35 people. The dam was constructed with a donated back hoe and operator and two 65 foot poles from the light company. One week later the dam survived "Hurricane Agnes." The dam was named the "Jack Kobus Jack Dam" in honor of Jack Kobus, who was a dedicated hoard working club member. The material in the dam includes:


Sign along the creek where the Jack Dam was constructed 2-65’ light poles (donated by light company) 8-30" poles 45-2x10x12's 200' of 3/4" pine sheeting 16-3/4" of 42" long steel rods 15 lbs of 16D spikes 30 spikes 14" long

1973 The club built two float boxes to stock inaccessible portions of the creek. In 1973, over 30,00 trout were stocked from these boxes.

Club members float stocking Pine Creek




In mid summer, mine water broke out about 0.5 mile above the mine where the creek there turned red No work was done in the stream as the iron was so bad it could cause infection if anyone was cut. DER sealed the leak at a cost of $8,700. Some work was done later in the year and at the end of 1973 over 110 stone deflectors and one Jack dam was placed in the first two miles of Pine Creek. Over 15 tons of sand and gravel were hauled from Etna. Cement in broken bags was donated by John Auld Bros. Lumber and Hardware. Most of the stone used in the deflectors was taken from the stream bed. The county also supplied about eight truck loads for deflectors in the park area. In one summer, over 85 dozen buns and 85 lbs of hot dogs were used to feed scouts. Pepsi Cola Co supplied us with Pepsi for the scouts. A camp site was supplied where the scouts could camp over the weekend when working on the stream. The parks department supplied the fire wood. Meanwhile, many concerned politicians were trying to convince DER that sealing the mine was not a wise solution. A permanent solution would be to install a lagoon at the mine. At fist the lagoon was overwhelmed with water, but once the mine volume reached equilibrium the lagoons have worked fine. The lagoon is 456' by 256’ and was built to handle 800 gallons of water a minute. Cleaning of the lagoon by a large sucking machine will take place every six months. It was built by Frank Gavlik and Sons Inc of Bentleyville with funds from the Land and Reclamation Act.


The club purchase 14 trout from 12" to 18" and placed tags on them and stocked them in Pine Creek for a fishing contest. Any one that caught them was paid $5.00.

1974 The club purchased leftover fish from the Sportsman Show at the Civic Arena. Some fished that were caught had moved over two miles. One moved up Willow Run past the Mine and was caught by a 14 year old boy. 1975 Allison Park Sportsmen Club became the first club in the district to officially adopt a stream. A presentation was made at the West Penn Sportsman Show in Pittsburgh. A Certificate of Adoption was presented to the club by Tom Qualters, District Director of the Fish Commission.

1978 George Lorch loses the tip of one of his fingers while working in the creek. A rock fell on it crushing it.


George Lorch


1979

In December, a discharge of cyanide kills an estimated 250,000 to 740,000 thousand fish along with most aquatic life in Pine Creek. The company quickly agreed to pay ($14,000) to have that portion of the creek restocked. The company had a permit to dump cyanide into the creek at 0.025 ppm however a check at the Winky's (Currently Burger King near Etna) showed the water had 0.15 ppm.


Roger Latham outdoors writer for the Pittsburgh Press newspaper


Unknown

Helping one year were 800 scouts from the South Hills Silver Tip District. Also were 15 members of the U. S. Army Reserve A Unit, D Company 458th Engineers. The Reserve Unit donated equipment and trucks for several weekends and over 64,000 man-hours have were devoted to the stream.


Thanks to Roy for putting together this awesome timeline of the club's history.


Have something to share? It's easy! Just send me an email telling the story behind your post and if you have a couple of photos include them in your email. You can reach me at StephenCPlut@Gmail.com




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