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April 14, 2004       

WPC Ecologist Robert Coxe has put together a new six-part Wednesday series explaining how western Pennsylvania places received their names. Today, Robert enlightens us about Sewickley, the third entry in the series.

What's in a Name? -- Sewickley

The name “Sewickley,” in Allegheny County, comes from the Native American word for “Sweetwater” and refers to the abundance of maple trees in the floodplain of the Ohio River (Dennis 1996). The “sweetwater” is presumably the maple syrup that was obtained from these trees. The arts center in Sewickley bears the name Sweetwater Arts Center (pictured today).

The Borough of Sewickley was first surveyed as part of the depreciation lands paid to Revolutionary War soldiers from the Act of March 12, 1783. After the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 and the subsequent Treaty of Greenville, the land that is now the location for Sewickley became open for settlement. The original boundaries of the Sewickley valley were defined as running from Kilbuck Run on the east to Big Sewickley Creek on the west and bounded by the Ohio River to the south. Interestingly, one of the surveyors of the town, Daniel Leet, later had a town named after him downriver called Leetsdale.

Reference: Dennis, Stephen Neal. 1996. Historic Houses of the Sewickley Valley. (Sewickley: White Oak Publishing) 180 pp.

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