Allegheny Ridge Heritage Area

In an age of planes, trains, and GPS-enabled smart phones, it’s difficult to appreciate how challenging travel and expansion once was. In today’s world, the thought of a natural barrier just doesn’t seem to make sense. But that wasn’t always the case.

Consider the Allegheny Ridge, a geographical phenomenon that rises steeply to 1200 feet above sea level. In the early 19th century, this presented a nearly impassable challenge, met first by wagon roads, then by an ingenious combination of canals and inclined planes, followed by railroads, and finally, limited access highways.

Those natural barriers of the past have turned into modern playgrounds for outdoor recreationalists making use of the assets of the Pittsburgh-To-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway to hike, bicycle, or kayak through the Allegheny Ridge.

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(Photo: Johnstown Inclined Plane)

Things to See and Do

  • Raystown Lake Recreation Area

    6145 Seven Points Road Hesston PA 16647

    Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania’s largest lake entirely within the state’s borders, offers picnic areas, beaches, boat launches, campgrounds, trails, hunting & fishing opportunities, marina concession stands. and is operated and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps operates and maintains 12 public access areas. Facilities include beaches, boat launches, campgrounds, trails, and hunting and fishing.   Approximately 1.5 million visitors per year engage in the many activities that Raystown Lake offers.

  • Rock Run Recreation Area

    1228 St. Lawrence Road Patton PA 16668

    Set in the rural parts of northern Cambria and southern Clearfield Counties, the Rock Run Recreation Area’s off-road trails provide spectacular views from atop the Allegheny Mountains. Rock Run now provides over 70 miles of trails for ATVs, UTVs, and dirtbikes.

  • Thousand Steps

    8833 Riverview Heights Huntingdon PA 16652

    The Thousand Steps (actually there are almost 1100 ), located in Jack’s Narrows near Mount Union, comprise a segment of the 72-mile long Standing Stone Trail which connects Cowan’s Gap State Park with Greenwood Furnace State Park. The steps were built in the 1930s by quarry workers who cut away a large slice out of Jack’s Mountain while quarrying the ganister stone used to make silica bricks. The quarry opened around 1900, with its heyday in the early 1920’s. Local factories turned out nearly one half million bricks daily to earn Mount Union the title, “Bricktown USA.”

  • Railroaders Memorial Museum

    1300 Ninth Ave. Altoona PA 16602

    The Railroaders Memorial Museum is dedicated to revealing, interpreting, commemorating and celebrating the significant contributions of Railroaders and their families to American life and industry.

  • Johnstown Area Heritage Association – Discovery Center

    201 Sixth Avenue Johnstown PA 15906

    The stories of Johnstown — immigration, the 1889 flood, the steel industry and more — shaped the history of America as it became a modern industrial nation. Today, the Johnstown Discovery Network brings this rich heritage to life through a linked system of attractions owned and operated by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, such as the Johnstown Flood Museum, Frank & Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center, and Wagner-Ritter House & Garden, as well as the new Johnstown Children’s Museum.

  • PA Artisan Trails

    67 N 4th Street Newport PA 17074

    Discover the talent and creativity of the people of Pennsylvania on the “Art-full” PA Artisan Trails.

  • Johnstown Area Heritage Association – Wagner-RItter House & Garden

    418 Broad Street Johnstown PA 15906

    The stories of Johnstown — immigration, the 1889 flood, the steel industry and more — shaped the history of America as it became a modern industrial nation. Today, the Johnstown Discovery Network brings this rich heritage to life through a linked system of attractions owned and operated by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, such as the Johnstown Flood Museum, Frank & Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center, and Wagner-Ritter House & Garden, as well as the new Johnstown Children’s Museum.

  • Greenhouse Park

    Conemaugh Township 1120 Tire Hill Road Johnstown PA 15905

    Greenhouse Park is a social center within The Stonycreek River Corridor. located along PA Route 403 near Tire Hill. Whitewater Park, Pennsylvania’s first set of constructed rapids, is located in the Stonycreek River adjacent to Greenhouse Park. Here in Class II water novice paddlers can learn basic whitewater techniques and more-experienced boaters can play in hydraulics. Tubing and fishing also are popular activities here.

  • Blairsville Underground Railroad Museum

    214 S. East Lane Blairsville PA 15717

    The UGRR History Center is located at 214 S. East Lane in Blairsville. It is housed in the former Second Baptist Church Building, the oldest African American structure in the town. The Center serves as an educational facility and is open May through October by appointment. It  houses two main exhibits:  “Freedom in the Air,”  the story of Indiana County Abolitionists and their efforts to assist any enslaved person seeking freedom in Canada and “Day in the Life of an Enslaved Child,”  showing the daily life of enslaved children.

  • East Broad Top Railroad

    Meadow Street Rockhill Furnace PA 17249

    The East Broad Top is a narrow-gauge railroad chartered in 1856 to tap into the vast semi-bituminous coal fields located on Broad Top Mountain. Abandoned in April 1956, the railroad was resurrected during the summer of 1960 as a tourist line.

  • Pittsburgh-To-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway

    1421 - 1427 12th Ave. P.O. Box 348 Altoona PA 16603

    The Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Main Line Canal Greenway™ is a 320-mile corridor that follows the historic path of the Main Line Canal System. It  serves as a physical connector that improves opportunities for public access, linkage to important destinations, and economic development. It is not a single, long-distance trail for unimpeded travel, but incorporates the Kiski-Conemaugh and Juniata Rivers Water Trails, and the Roaring Run, West Penn, 6-to-10,  and Lower Trails.

  • Windber Coal Heritage Museum

    501 15th Street Windber PA 15963

    The Windber Coal Heritage Center is the only interactive museum in the eastern U.S. dedicated to telling the story of the everyday lives of miners and their families, the evolution of coal mining technology, the struggle for unionization and the impact western PA bituminous coal mining .

  • Fort Roberdeau

    383 Fort Roberdeau Road Altoona PA 16601

    A visit to Fort Roberdeau will help you imagine life in the 18th century. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the past. Hear musket fire, wood chopping, and the daily work of citizen soldiers and farmers. Take part in the fort’s everyday life. Shoulder a musket, mend clothes, smell the stew, and meet the soldiers. The Fort’s costumed guides demonstrate crafts, present historical skits and practice military drill and weapons firings.

  • Horseshoe Curve

    Kittaning Point, Burgoon Road Logan Township, PA PA 16602

    Completed in 1854, the Horsehoe Curve opened the way for railroads to conquer the Allegheny Ridge and still serves as the main line for the Norfolk Southern Railroad to pass through the mountains.

  • Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site

    110 Federal Park Drive Gallitzin PA 16641

    The Allegheny Portage Railroad is a story of ingenuity, persistence, and the fleeting power of success. This engineering marvel, which includes the first railroad tunnel in America, opened a valuable trade route within a developing nation. The celebration of its success was enjoyed worldwide; it was a must see for prominent travelers of the 1840s.

  • Johnstown Flood Memorial

    733 Lake Road South Fork PA 15956

    The Johnstown Flood National Memorial has many cultural resources within its boundary. The historic clubhouse of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club and a few remaining cottages line Main Street in St Michael, PA. The remnants of the South Fork Dam and the restored Unger House all are important in the story of the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889. The park has a visitor center, exhibits,  and a wonderful film entitled “Black Friday”.

  • Saltsburg Canal Park

    Point Street Saltsburg PA 15681

    The Saltsburg Canal Park traces the authentic route of the Main Line Canal in a graceful concrete path that curves through the town. Constructed in the mid-1990s by the National Park Services’ America’s Industrial Heritage Project, it includes several interpretive panels that speak to the function and design of the canal, the eventual transition to a rail systemand the impact of both on the community and region. A representation of Canal Lock 8 at its actual location is a focal point of the park.

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