South Park

Skating Rink at South Park
The South Park outdoor skating rink is a popular place during the winter months.

Allegheny County Coat of Arms

South Park is one of nine Allegheny County Parks in the Pittsburgh vicinity. South Park is located along Route 88 and borders the municipalities of Library, Bethel Park, Curry and South Park. It is a short drive from Brookline and offers a wide variety of recreational facilities. The other Allegheny County Parks are North Park, Boyce Park, Settlers Cabin Park, Deer Lakes Park, Harrison Hills Park, Hartwood Acres Park, Round Hill Park and White Oak Park.

South Park   A gazebo and duck pond at South Park.
One of the many stone column markers along the roadways of South Park, and the Maple Springs Pond Gazebo.

The 2013-acre South Park was established in 1931. Many of the park's features were built during the Great Depression, carved out of the hills by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). The results were magnificent. Today, South Park is full of long scenic drives, rustic picnic groves, vintage stone architecture, and several picturesque memorials. It is the second largest of the nine county parks.

Old Map of South Park

<Click Here for PDF Map of South Park>

<Allegheny County South Park Webpage>

Among the many recreational attractions located throughout South Park are the skating rink, roller-blade park, miniature golf course, tennis courts, basketball courts, sand volley-ball court, children's playgrounds, walking and bike trails, horse stables, wave pool, BMX track, outdoor DEK hockey and inline skating rink, model airplane field, nine and eighteen-hole golf courses, an outdoor theatre, a Girl Scout cabin and the Boy Scout's Camp Rolling Hills.

The South Park Fairgrounds.   The South Park Fairgrounds.
The South Park Fairgrounds are host to several sporting and social events throughout the year.

South Park Golf Course   South Park Tennis Center.
The South Park Golf Course, which offers both nine and 18-hole play, and the tennis courts.

There's also a large fairgrounds complex with ballfields, a race track, and outlying structures. The park is dotted with over sixty picnic groves, nestled among the trees along the winding road network. There are also twenty lodges and rental buildings for large gatherings. The South Park Nature Center contains various exhibits along with several species of wild birds and small animals. The Nature Center is also home to a small herd of buffalo.

Post Gazette Article - June 25, 2013:
"After 85 Years, Bison Still Have A Home To Roam In South Park"

The Oliver Miller Homestead, or Stone House.   The buffalo at the South Park Nature Center.
The Oliver Miller Homestead (left) and the buffalo at the South Park Nature Center.

South Park Wave Pool.   South Park BMX Track.
The South Park Wave Pool is alive during the summer months. The BMX Track attracts national competitions.

During its long history, South Park has undergone several changes. Most notably, during the 1960s, an automated mass transit project known as the Westinghouse Transit Expressway, or Skybus, was tested in the park. An experimental track was built along Corrigan Drive and the system was in operation for several years. The test ended in May of 1972 and the transit expressway program came to a halt.

A Skybus train makes its way along the
rails network constructed in South Park,
heading from the North Station towards
Corrigan Drive and the return trip to the
main terminal located at the Fairgrounds.
A Skybus train makes its way along the rail network constructed in South Park, heading from the North Station
towards Corrigan Drive and the return trip to the main terminal located at the Fairgrounds.

For several years the rusting rails remained along Corrigan Drive and around the Fairgrounds complex. Many old-timers were dismayed by the park areas compromised to build the elevated guideway. Eventually these remnants of Skybus project were removed from the park. Although initially unsuccessful in the Pittsburgh market, the Skybus system went on to become a major transportation breakthrough. The South Park trials ushered in a revolutionary technology that is now seen as a historic Pittsburgh achievement.

Skybus in 1967.   Skybus in 1967
The Skybus people mover was first demonstrated to the public at the 28th County Fair. A ride cost ten cents.

Other major South Park attractions that have since been removed or discontinued over the years include two large swimming pools and a picturesque valley, known as the Vale of Cashmere, that included a small pond surrounded by magnificent stone architecture. The Stone Manse Cascades, next to the Oliver Miller Homestead, was also a popular place.

The Vale of Cashmere in South Park.    The Corrigan Drive Pool in South Park.
The Vale of Cashmere (left) and the Corrigan Drive Pool were once showcase locations in South Park.

The Stone Manse Cascades in South Park.
The Stone Manse Cascades was once one of the most popular places for family outings in South Park.

These attractions were created by legendary Swiss architect Paul B. Riis, who favored blending his creations into the existing landscape. The Corrigan Drive pool, which opened in 1933 and closed in 1977, mirrored the terrain. The Vale of Cashmere and Stone Manse Cascades were built using large stones excavated during the creation of the park. The stones, some as heavy as five tons, were strategically placed to form either the border of the Vale or the cascades at the Stone Manse. Natural springs provided the water to create the ponds.

The former Vale of Cashmere in South Park.    The former Stone Manse Cascades in South Park.
The remnants of the Vale of Cashmere (left) and the Stone Manse Cascades as they look now in South Park.

After several years the Vale of Cashmere and the Stone Manse Cascades fell into disrepair and were abandoned. The ponds dried up and the landscape became overgrown with vegetation. The rocks are still there and can be still be seen, but the water no longer flows.

Sign signaling the upcoming restoration of the Stone Manse Cascades.

A recent initiative by the Allegheny County Parks Department is to restore the Stone Manse Cascades to their former brilliance. As of the Fall of 2018, that effort is currently underway, with bids placed for the restoration work.

A view towards the County Fairgrounds in 1934.
Looking across the street towards the Allegheny County Fairgrounds in 1934.

The Fairgrounds as South Park.   The Museum Building in the 1930s.
A vintage postcard showing the Fairgrounds (left) and the Museum Building.

Beginning in the early 1930s, the South Park Fairgrounds was host to the Allegheny County Fair. The week-long event, which attracted over 500,000 visitors a year, was loaded with activities for young and old alike.

Pittsburgh Railways Crosstown Trolley
advertising the 26th Allegheny County Fair.

There were various livestock shows, farming exhibits and a wide variety of competitions and stage performances. As the farming community in the region dwindled, the Allegheny County Fairs ended in the late-1960s.

County Fair Program - 1962.

Although there is no longer a County Fair, the South Park Fairgrounds complex is alive on Labor Day Weekend with the annual South Park Rib and Wing Challenge. The event includes assorted activities and stage performances, as well as a wide variety of food vendors.

The South Park Rib and Wing Challenge.   The South Park Rib and Wing Challenge.

The South Park Rib and Wing Challenge.   The South Park Rib and Wing Challenge.

The South Park Rib and Wing Challenge.

The South Park Rib and Wing Challenge.

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