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The Oil Heritage Southern Segment:

Tionesta to Emlenton, 62 River Miles



The Allegheny Wild and Scenic River flows through the Oil Region

National Heritage Area (ORNHA). Venango County and the southeastern

corner of Crawford County were designated in 1984 as a State Heritage

Park Area for its importance in the history of petroleum. Nearby in

Titusville, in 1859, Edwin Drake drilled the first commercial oil well, and

that discovery changed the world. The region received federal

designation as a National Heritage Area in 2004 for its historical

significance to the history of our nation. This area is well-known for its

colorful history and many historical attractions, as well as its scenic

recreational attributes. Visit the Oil Region Alliance website for more information

about this fascinating area.


The southern segment of the Wild and Scenic River begins at the boat

access site in the borough of Tionesta, Forest County (River Mile 154.7)

and ends at the community of Emlenton, Venango County (River Mile 



Remnants of the iron, oil, and railroad industries are visible along the

way. This trail segment contains four public islands owned by Venango

County, in addition to sixty-four islands under private ownership. The

public islands are open for camping and recreation. Access is available,

but more limited compared to the northern segment upriver from



Along the Way


Village of President - This is an informal boat access site on the left bank, which is owned by the Village of President and is available for use by the public for a small fee. Some parking and lodging are available. Private camping is available just past President. River Mile 146.2


Oil City - Fourteen miles north of Oil City, along Oil Creek, lies the birthplace of the world’s oil industry. The first successful oil well in the world struck on August 27, 1859, sending this rural, sparsely-settled region into an exciting new era of frenzied growth and prosperity. This valley has been aptly referred to as “The Valley That Changed The World.” Located at the confluence of Oil Creek and the Allegheny River, Oil City was the staging area where much of the oil gathered in the region was shipped to the rest of the world. In 1865, approximately half of the oil shipped in the world was shipped through Oil City, often on rafts, packet boats, and steamboats down the Allegheny River to Franklin or Pittsburgh. Oil City is a full-service community, with restaurants, lodging, stores, and more. River Mile 132.5


Oil City Rapids - The Oil City rapids, considered class II rapids, are the

most technical and difficult section of the river trail. When water levels

are low, the rapids are more difficult to maneuver safely.  This section is

located on the left side of the River under the Veterans Bridge, where

Oil Creek enters the Allegheny River.  A novice or inexperienced

canoeist should go around around this area on the shallower right-hand

river bank. Experienced paddlers should wear their life jackets if they

attempt to run these rapids. River Mile 132.5 


Oil City Marina - A developed boat access site, located a half-mile

downriver of the rapids, along the left bank. The marina is operated by

the City of Oil City. Free parking is available, along with seasonal

restroom facilities and primitive camping. River Mile 131.6


Samuel Justus Recreational Trail - This 5.8-mile paved non-motorized

recreational trail, owned by Cranberry Township, follows the left side of

the river to Franklin, where it meets the Allegheny River Trail. River Mile 130.5


Franklin - Venango County's seat is located where French Creek enters the Allegheny River. Both the French and the English occupied forts in Franklin in the eighteenth century. It is the only city in Pennsylvania to have had four different forts within its borders. Riverfront Park, is a public park at the confluence of French Creek and the Allegheny. A full-service community, Franklin is home to restaurants, lodging, and wide array of shops and stores.  To access Franklin  from the water, use access sites either a River Mile 124.2, or at River Mile 124.8 for paddlers only. 


Allegheny River Trail and Cranberry Township Trailhead - On the east bank of the river, just below the Route 322 bridge, lies the trailhead for the Allegheny River Trail and some trail amenities. At this location, there is an access for canoes and kayaks, but this requires carrying the craft on a set of stairs. The site offers ample parking, a trail visitor center, seasonal bathroom facilities, picnic tables, and pavilions. The recreational trail follows the river downstream for approximately 28 miles to the community of Emlenton Borough.  Five miles south of Franklin, the Allegheny River Trail intersects the Sandy Creek Trail at Belmar Bridge. River Mile 124.8   


Franklin Access -This is a developed boat ramp site on the west bank, located on Third Street. It is operated by the PA Fish & Boat Commission. Free parking is available, along with seasonal restroom facilities. River Mile 124.2


Cranberry Township Primitive Camping/Lower Two-Mile Run - Primitive camping and picnicking facilities, with seasonal restrooms, are available just upriver from the confluence of Lower Two-Mile Run, on the left river bank. Drinking water is not available in this area. River Mile 123


Cranberry Township Primitive Camping - About three miles down the river from Franklin, a small primitive campsite is available on the left river bank. No restrooms or water are  available. River Mile 121.8


Belmar Bridge - The spectacular Belmar Bridge over the Allegheny River was constructed in 1907 as part of a railroad built by local oilman Charles Miller, intended to connect New York to Chicago. Ultimately, it transported much of the coal from Clarion County to Ashtabula on Lake Erie. Belmar Bridge is now decked for safe, convenient pedestrian and bicycle crossings.  River Mile 119.2                                                                                                   






















Indian God Rock - Approximately 9 miles south of Franklin is a reminder of the use of the river by Native Americans. More than fifty carvings dating from AD 1200 to 1750 are on a large rock at the river’s edge, known as Indian God Rock. The rock, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, can be accessed from the water trail. An observation deck marks the location along the left river bank. River Mile 115.8























Fisherman’s Cove Access - This is a remote access area with a dirt driveway, operated by the PA Fish & Boat Commision.  Free parking is available, along with seasonal restroom facilities. River Mile 114.8


Danner’s Rest/Clear Creek State Forest, Kennerdell Tract - This state forest is administered by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry. This forest offers primitive overnight camping at Danner’s Rest for float trips, as well as hiking trails, restrooms, spring water and day-use areas. Danner’s Rest is on the right bank, about 400 yards past a gas line right-of-way and sign that says “Don’t Anchor.”   River Mile 110               


Kennerdell - A private boat launch exists on the left bank of the river in Kennerdell. A fee is required to use this launch area. The Kennerdell monument (an obelisk seen on the left bank) is dedicated to the men who lost their lives to nitroglycerin blasts during the oil boom years. Private camping is available a quarter-mile below the bridge on the right. River Mile 108.3


Dotter - The Allegheny Valley Conservancy provides a canoe/kayak access at this location approximately four miles north of Emlenton. A drive through the off-loading area is provided with parking available in the lot just off Dotter Road beside the Allegheny River Trail.  Located on the left river bank, the site provides the opportunity to learn about the conservation practices of the conservancy. River Mile 93.6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       






















Emlenton - This community marks the end of the Wild and Scenic River trail. Established in 1834, Emlenton became a junction for a narrow-gauge railroad that traveled east to present-day Clarion and for the Allegheny Valley Railroad that traveled south to Pittsburgh. The community became home to many wealthy industrialists and entrepreneurs due to the region’s oil production, and the steps that climbed the hillsides to their homes became known as “The Millionaires’ Stairs.” There is an undeveloped boat access site on the left side of the river at the first bridge in town.  Parking is limited.  Emlenton is a full-service community offering restaurants, lodging, groceries, and a convenience store. River Mile 90.


Rapids under Veterans Bridge KHIMG_7110.
Indian God Rock DarlBlac.jpg
Belmar Bridge with kayakerKH.jpg
two men floating on AlleghenyKH.jpg
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