Oil Creek State Park is home to four of the Oil Region’s many waterfalls. Miller Falls is halfway between Titusville and Petroleum Centre along the Oil Creek Bike Trail. Pioneer Falls (also known as Gregg Falls) is near the ghost town of Pioneer and is easily visible from the Gerard Trail. At the northern end of the park, Boughton Falls has a 35 foot drop. Plum Dungeon Falls is the highest at 60 feet, but needs significant rain or snow melt to really impress.
A trip to Kennerdell reveals four of the Oil Region’s must-see sights. Freedom Falls is a beautiful sight in any season, but a little tricky to get to so it’s not recommended during adverse weather. From the intersection of Routes 257 and 322 in Seneca, take Cranberry Rockland Road to Pittsville Road (T522) then turn right onto Rockland Station Road (T480). It’s just under 9 miles from the intersection, but the last leg on Rockland Station Road is dirt. There are a couple pull offs for parking on the side of the road. From there, it’s a short hike downhill to the creek. If you want to get to the foot of the falls, it’s even steeper down and often slippery, tree-rooted route, but it’s definitely worth the trip to see that view. The falls are 50 feet wide and 25 feet high, with lots of hemlock trees and rocky outcrops towering on either side.
Just a hundred yards or so downstream between the creek and the road is one of the most unusual sights in the Oil Region—the Rockland Iron Furnace. Looking like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, this giant stone structure isn’t visible from the road, but you can actually walk inside and take a selfie! Built in 1832, the furnace produced 3-5 tons of molten iron every twelve hours from charcoal, iron ore and limestone. The furnace was used until 1854, but the structure along with the wheel pit and mill race, which brought water from the stream, remain. The Rockland Iron Furnace was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
If you don’t mind the hike, keep heading downstream. Or, get back in the car and take the dirt road to the end and make the left into the trailhead just outside of the Rockland Tunnel. Also known as the Woodhill Tunnel, the Rockland Tunnel is 2,868 feet long and bends enough to require headlamps or flashlights for those hiking or biking through.
Nearby the falls, furnace and tunnel is the Kennerdell Overlook, which sits 302 feet above the Allegheny River. You’ll need to backtrack on Rockland Cranberry Road and turn left on Kennerdell Road to get to the overlook, about 4 miles west.
The Oil Region is home to a couple of other overlooks that are too good to be, well, overlooked. Dennison Point Overlook, in the Kennerdell Tract of the Clear Creek State Forest has a 980 foot elevation and can be accessed on a five-mile loop hike.
Use the west access by taking the Bullion/Pearl exit off of Route 8 and turn toward Pearl. Bear right at the Y and go north on Old Route 8. At the second right, take Dennison Run Road for 1.7 miles. Turn right onto DeWoody Road and drive 1.2 miles to the end.
Murray’s Scenic View is a much easier overlook to access at the top of Grandview Road in Oil City, which just so happens to be next Fat Dogs (open seasonally), an eatery whose delicious offerings include Penn State Creamery ice cream.
In communities as old as these, with such rich heritage and equally rich citizens, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Oil Region has some outstanding cemeteries, for those of you who like that sort of thing.
Titusville’s Woodlawn Cemetery, located just to the northwest of the city off of Route 8, is the final resting place of Edwin Drake and Ida Tarbell, as well as home to grand monuments such as the Drake Memorial with its bronze statue “The Driller” and the Benson Family Memorial with its bronze statue of Minerva.