Thursday, August 5, 2021—The Allegheny River Trail

The drive yesterday took us from Indiana east into Ohio, overnighting in Franklin, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh.

After waking up, we followed much the same routine as yesterday.

Kay dropped me off at the trailhead, and while I cycled she walked around the historic oil town of Franklin. Franklin sits on French Creek and the Allegheny River, which was a great spot for Native Americans to build shelter. In 1740, Scottish fur trader John Fraser built a trading post in Franklin. Once the trading post was abandoned, British fur traders planned to reconstruct it. George Washington was sent to Franklin to warn the French that they were trespassing on British land. The French did not leave; instead they created Fort Machault, where they amassed large forces to attack Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh) in an effort to reclaim Fort Duquesne. The French then had to rescue Fort Niagara, but before leaving they burned Fort Machault to the ground. In 1760, the British erected Fort Venango. In 1763, Native Americans killed many British. The American Colonial Forces then constructed Fort Franklin named after Benjamin Franklin. Once oil was discovered in nearby Titusville, Franklin became a booming oil town. Once oil companies moved west, Franklin created machinery companies. Franklin was ranked in America’s Top Ten Streets in 2019.

Back to the Allegheny River Trail. The trail follows the route used by the Allegheny Valley Railroad, later the Allegheny Division of Pennsylvania Railroad, to haul oil. The Scrubgrass Generating Company subsequently acquired it in 1984 and donated it to the nonprofit Allegheny Valley Trails Association. I cycled from the Brandon Trailhead to Emlenton.

Brandon to Emlenton

After Kay dropped me off at the Brandon Trailhead, adjacent to the Allegheny River, I began cycling south on the paved Allegheny River Trail.

Near Brandon Trailhead
Good paved trail

The paved trail soon veered onto gravelly North Kent Road for 0.75 mile through the Sunny Slopes community, with large limestone gravel loudly caroming off the bicycle tires.

Gravel made for difficult cycling

Back on an asphalt section of trail, the opening of the 3,300-foot-long Kennerdell Tunnel barely came into view on the foggy, canopied trail. This was a really dark tunnel, but the handlebar mounted LED provided sufficient light to safely pedal through the tunnel.

Kennerdell Tunnel
Kennerdell Tunnel

About here, the trail became quite washboarded from roots growing under the asphalt, often to the point that it felt like riding a bucking bronco. Continuing on the heavily tree shrouded trail, a waterfall could be heard, and then came into view.

Further down the trail, a derelict train car from many years ago was nearly hidden by vegetation.

After a few more miles, the Rockland Tunnel, 2,868 feet long, came into view. As with the Kennerdell Tunnel, this tunnel’s dogleg resulted in total darkness, but no problems.

Much of the remaining trail was surrounded by a protected natural area.

And then, near Emlenton where Kay was waiting, the trail was heavily fenced as an old hazardous industrial site had been abandoned.

From Emlenton, we drove north to Titusville, site of the first oil well in the US. Much of the area in this part of Pennsylvania was heavily dependent on the oil industry, and some industry, such as a huge refinery, remains to this day.

After Titusville, our trip took us to Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, where we would overnight Thursday and Friday.

2 thoughts on “Thursday, August 5, 2021—The Allegheny River Trail

  1. That’s a LOT of pedaling!! That gravel roadway looked hazardous! (Hope you carry a first aid kit!)
    Enjoy the scenery!
    Mary Seitz

    • Thanks, Mary. The peace, quiet, and tranquility from cycling these trails is good for the soul. We still have to do all or part of the Arkansas River Trail!

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