The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Fall Run Park

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last weekend, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself were desirous of taking advantage of yet another unseasonably warm day here in Pittsburgh, so we piled into the Mobile Oppression Platform and drove about twenty minutes to Fall Run Park in the Glenshaw section of Shaler Township.

It’s a ‘run’ rather than a creek or a stream, which is a waterway term I’d never encountered before moving to Pittsburgh. Apparently ‘run’ is synonymous with ‘creek,’ but the former is indicative of rapidly flowing water, whereas the latter indicates slow moving or meandering water. According to legal officialdom – “run of the river means a facility where there is a continuous discharge of water without storage and release of water.”

There’s also a ‘riffle’ to consider, but there you go. There’s a big bunch of runs found in the Pittsburgh area. Has to do with the topology.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seldom was the water more than a few inches deep, but it was shooting down hill at a good clip. The park was pretty well attended, and people were there with their kids and dogs. Lots of people, including Our Lady and myself, we’re stepping into the water’s bed in spots we here it was about an inch deep. The underlying rocks were quite slippery, as you’d imagine water polished stone with algae growing on it to be.

The geology of this place is absolutely fascinating, with sedimentary rock formations that were laid down during the Ordovician Era which is pretty much “pre fishies.” This ancient geology’s tectonic journeys around the globe, especially during the later Carboniferous Era, is why Pennsylvania has so much coal, oil, and gas locked up in the ground. The Appalachian chain is considered to be one of the oldest sets of mountains on the planet.

I just have to say it:

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I know less about geography than I do about buying women’s shoes, but according to a bit of reading on the topic, the Appalachia’s are about 480 million years old. When the supercontinent which formed them broke apart, sections of this range ended up in both Scotland and Morocco as well as North America. Somewhere between 250 and 66 million years ago (Dinosaur time), the Appalachias – once as tall as the modern day Himalayas – had eroded down to flat ground. Uplift began during the Cenozoic Era, which started 66 million years ago and is the one we’re a part of, and the mountains began to rise. Water erosion cut through the sedimentary stones, revealing the layer cake of its geology. All of those individual layers include a treasury of minerals, including coal.

Really, this is the sort of hell which Our Lady has to live with. I can’t go to a freaking park without reading up on the history of plate tectonics, life on earth, and forming some familiarity with geologic theory.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Due to the steep slopes and deep valleys here in Pittsburgh, there’s flowing water everywhere you look for it. The watershed here is vast. I still haven’t ventured into a proper set of woods, but there are conservation areas, national and state parks, and huge tracts set aside for hunting that are within easy reach.

Me? I was busy with the camera for a bit before the park got too crowded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The water was shallow enough for me to just stride into the flow and set the tripod down in the stream bed, which is something I never did at Newtown Creek or the East River – for obvious reasons.

I think I overdid it with the long exposures in these, losing the texture of the flowing water entirely. Next time around, I’m going to cut my exposure time in half.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shaler Township is about a 15 minute drive northeast of Downtown Pittsburgh. Definitely coming back to this spot in about a month when there’s going to be greenery sprouting out of the ground.

Back tomorrow.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 8, 2023 at 1:15 pm

3 Responses

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  1. The first major battle of the Civil War was at Bull Run in Virginia.

    georgetheatheist . . . run runaway

    March 8, 2023 at 6:32 pm

  2. If you’re so inclined to study the geology, this is an incredible value at $24 (I can’t understand why its on Amazon/Ebay for $100+ – maybe it “seems” like it should be more expensive.)

    Jon H

    March 9, 2023 at 8:24 am

  3. There are “runs” in Arlington VA. I once lived near Scott Run.


    March 10, 2023 at 10:12 am

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