You’d think I live in the Congo or something.
“Wow!” they say. “You live all the way out in Beaver?!” It’s always someone from the south or east of the Pittsburgh. “I hear it’s nice, but I could never live that far from the city.”
Um, you mean like 40 minutes?
Com’on, people. It’s not like this is the 1800s or something. “Be sure to water the horses, Eugenia, and pack enough salted pork to last us a few days. We’ve got a good 30 miles ahead of us.”
One time I actually had someone tell me they “didn’t think there was anything past the airport,” like sailors during Columbus’ time who were afraid they’d sail off the edge of the world.
Well, there definitely is something past the airport and, guess what?—It’s pretty awesome.
I’m no world traveler or anything, but I’ve visited a lot of small towns both regionally and around the U.S., and in my opinion few of them compare to the Borough of Beaver.
First of all, get over the name, will ya? The town was named for the Beaver River and an old Delaware chief once known as “King Beaver.” Both of which got their names from the abundance of beavers that used to be found here and were highly coveted for their fur.
Besides, “Beaver” isn’t any more bizarre a name than “Squirrel Hill” or “Turtle Creek.”
And just to make things clear, I’m talking about Beaver, not Beaver FALLS, another one of fine Beaver County’s fine river towns, which for some reason gets all the love from the local meteorologists.
So who on earth want to live in a place like Beaver, a million miles (give or take a mile) from anywhere?
- The town sits on a high plateau looking down on the Ohio River, with a mile-and-a-half long riverside park providing a peaceful place to walk or relax on a bench while enjoying the breathtaking view.
- Inspired by the planners of Philadelphia, Beaver is laid out in a neat grid pattern with wide, tree-lined streets, and ample green space.
- Flat and spacious, Beaver’s pedestrian-friendly avenues provide the perfect place to run, bike, or just take the dog for a walk (Fun Fact.: Beaver annually hosts more 5Ks than any other PA town.)
- There are four parks, or “squares” as we like to call them, on the corners of the town (three with playgrounds) and four more parks in the center of town, one of which is the site of the Beaver County Courthouse.
- Third Street, Beaver’s main thoroughfare, features a thriving business district with plenty of quaint, unique boutiques; a legendary bakery (Kretchmar’s), and one of the best independent coffeehouses (Café Kolache) around. Not to mention some of the best restaurants you’ll find ANYWHERE (e.g., Biba Cocina, Yama, Mario’s Woodfire Pizzeria, Levanti’s American Bistro).
- Taxes are about half as much as you pay in Allegheny County, and real estate is more affordable, too.
- Our crime rate hovers right around zilch.
- The schools are top-notch with state-of-the-art facilities.
- Most of the town is a National Historic District, featuring stunning architecture, much of it dating back to the mid- to late 19th century.
- Bridgewater, our next door neighbor to the east, offers even more dining options, and, bordering the Beaver River, provides plenty of options for river recreation. It’s also the location of the region’s only annual literary festival, Bridgewater BookFest.
- If you want to head to the city to work or play, following Route 65 (Ohio River Blvd.) or Interstate 376 you can be in Pittsburgh in around 40-45 minutes.
- Living in town, I’m within walking distance of two coffeeshops, two ice cream parlors, nine eateries, the post office, my bank, my church, the grocery store, drug store, hardware store, office supply store, and any number of parks and playgrounds. Along the way I’m sure to run into a dozen people who know me by my first name and are always happy to stop and chat for a bit.
So let’s review: beautiful surroundings, cheap cost of living, low crime rate, good schools, a vibrant shopping district, great restaurants, less than an hour commute to the city, and all the amenities of a well-lived life within a friendly, walkable community.
Yeah, that’s Beaver.
If I sound a little cranky, sorry. But in this Small-Town Dad’s opinion, this is the finest small town in the whole dang country – certainly one of the best places you could ever pick to raise a family – and, frankly, I’m sick and tired of it not getting its due.[O.K….deep breath…exhale.]
That said, I didn’t write this to yell at you or to put down your town. Really. After all, the Pittsburgh region is full of charming little towns like mine. I wrote this in the hopes that I could convince you to come and visit our little slice of heaven and see for yourself why we say that Beaver is truly “someplace special.”
So consider this your official open invitation. Pick a weekend, hop in your car, drive 15 minutes – GASP! – past the airport, take exit 38B onto Rt. 68 East, drive a mile and a half down the road, park your car and walk around, and see if you don’t agree that Beaver is one heck of a town.
Just don’t forget to pack enough food and water for the return trip. ~
WALKING HISTORY TOURS
If you’re new or a visitor to the town, I offer personal walking history tours of Beaver by appointment. Tours are $20/person and range anywhere from 45 mins to 1.5 hours (discounted rates for groups of 20 or more). Contact me at valbrkich(AT)gmail(DOT)com for more information.)