Coal Oil Johnny House Free Open Houses Scheduled – June 24 & July 25

Oil City, PA – The historic McClintock-Steele-Waitz House, also known as the Coal Oil Johnny House, located at 167 Old Bankson Road inside Oil Creek State Park at Rynd Farm, will be open for free guided tours twice this summer.

The first Open House is scheduled for Sunday, June 24 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad will be operating steam locomotives this day, and the Coal Oil Johnny House is great vantage point to view the train coming into the Rynd Farm Station. The second Open House is set for Wednesday, July 25 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Through a special lease agreement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the nonprofit Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism owns this peg-n-post frame house, even though it sits on land owned and managed by the Bureau of State Parks within the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Originally constructed on the west bank of Oil Creek downstream from its current location, this historic home was disassembled, transported, and reassembled in 2001 by the Oil Region Alliance by contractor, Gustafson General Contracting.

This historic property is named for three families who resided therein. Culbertson and Sarah McClintock built the home circa 1850, for them and their two adopted children, Permelia and John Washington Steele. In 1864, then 21-year-old John inherited the farm, home, and substantial oil royalties. It was during Steele’s notorious two-year-spending spree in Philadelphia and New York where journalists coined the nickname “Coal Oil Johnny” for him. After heavy spending, he went bankrupt and lost the property. The house changed hands frequently in the 1870s, until being purchased by the Waitz Family. In 1999, the Oil Region Alliance purchased the house from members of the Waitz family.

During the Open House, local re-enactors will portray members of the McClintock and Steele families. Guided tours of the house and light refreshments will be provided during the Open Houses; book sales will also be available on site. For more information or to schedule a private tour of the Coal Oil Johnny House, please contact Jennifer Burden, Historian-Educator, Oil Region Alliance, (814) 677-3152, Ext. 116 or

Senator Scarnati Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from PA Route 6 Alliance

Galeton, PA – The PA Route 6 Alliance honored Senator Joe Scarnati with a DO 6 Lifetime Achievement Award on June 7, 2018, in his Harrisburg office.

The Board of the PA Route 6 Alliance recognized Senator Joe Scarnati, PA Senatorial District 25 & Senate President Pro Tempore with the honor, stating that the Senator has been a true friend of economic and community development, heritage tourism and recreational efforts in the Northern Tier for many years.

According to PA Route 6 Alliance Executive Director, Terri Dennison, when PA Route 6 became a dedicated Pennsylvania Heritage Area, Senator Scarnati provided support and assistance in establishing the organization that would manage the Heritage Corridor.

Dennison added that many of the popular attractions along Route 6 within his district benefited from his involvement; noting that several would be lost if he did not champion the cause including Lyman Run Lake in Potter County. Senator Scarnati supported the repairs needed on the Kinzua Bridge. When a portion of the bridge was destroyed by tornado in 2003, he helped secure funding for the restoration and reinvention of the state park, including the new Visitor Center. He was a key proponent of the renovations at the PA Lumber Museum, supported the development of the visitor center near the PA Grand Canyon in Tioga County, and continues to champion the future of Denton Hill State Park.

The DO 6 Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a person or agency who exemplifies outstanding leadership and advances our mission through heritage development.

PA Route 6 Alliance is the managing entity of the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor, one of the twelve designated heritage areas in the state.

PASSED: Smucker’s Bill to Preserve Susquehanna Valley Approved by House

Washington, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker’s (PA-16) legislation – the Susquehanna National Heritage Area Act – that would designate Lancaster and York Counties a National Heritage Area (NHA).

“I’m thrilled for the residents of the Susquehanna Valley that this legislation is now another step closer to becoming law,” said Rep. Smucker. “This designation would help us maintain our safe and clean environment, attract more visitors, stimulate our local economy, and preserve natural resources and historical landmarks. This bill is the result of a collaborative effort, driven by constituents, and I’m glad to have the support of many in our community who want to support and promote our region of the commonwealth. I encourage the Senate – where this legislation has been introduced five times – to get this legislation to President Trump’s desk on behalf of the people and communities we represent.”

“Heritage Areas have been, for us, somewhat problematic,” said House Committee on Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop. The chairman continued, “in each of these areas, Mr. Smucker has done an incredibly good job to make sure those problems will not exist… So what Mr. Smucker has done here is a Heritage Area done the right way for the purpose and the right intent.”

“This is a great milestone towards the National Heritage Area designation of Lancaster and York Counties,” said Susquehanna Heritage President Mark Platts. “We appreciate Congressman Smucker’s leadership in getting this bill through the U.S. House of Representatives. The Susquehanna National Heritage Area will honor our region’s place in American history, harness the economic power of visitors, grow business, and create jobs in our communities.”

The Susquehanna National Heritage Area Act passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 18 with unanimous, bipartisan support.

When testifying to the committee, Columbia, Pennsylvania Mayor Leo Lutz said:

“Along the Susquehanna, a tradition of public and private collaboration has helped our region prosper from heritage and outdoor tourism. My town has positioned itself as a gateway to this activity, for we believe the river is our future as well as our past. A National Heritage area will greatly boost this progress and promote the Susquehanna as a destination for heritage and outdoor travelers, especially kids and families.”

The following local organizations support this National Heritage Area:

  • Amishview Inn & Suites/Miller’s Smorgasbord/Plain & Fancy Farm
  • Borough of Columbia
  • Bube’s Brewery
  • Colony Packaging & Machine
  • Downtown Inc.
  • Discover Lancaster
  • Farm & Natural Lands Trust of York County
  • Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County
  • Historic York, Inc.
  • Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  • Lancaster County Board of Commissioners
  • Lancaster County Conservancy
  • Lancaster County Parks & Recreation
  • Lancaster County Planning Commission
  • Lancaster Farmland Trust
  • Landis Valley Museum
  • Long Level Marina
  • Northern York County Historical & Preservation Society
  • PPL Corporation
  • Pennsylvania State Grange
  • Preservation Pennsylvania
  • Rivertownes PA USA
  • Shank’s Mare Outfitters
  • Susquehanna Glass
  • Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • York County Board of Commissioners
  • York County Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • York County Department of Parks & Recreation
  • York County Economic Alliance
  • York County History Center

Courtesy of Susquehanna Heritage

What is a National Heritage Area?
National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are places where natural cultural, historic, and recreational resources form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from human activity shaped by geography. They tell nationally important stories about our nation and are representative of the national experience through physical features that remain and traditions that have evolved within them.

Since President Ronald Reagan designated the first NHA in 1984, community groups, businesses, local governments, and Congress have established 49 NHAs across the nation to preserve, promote, and celebrate their heritage, culture, and natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.

What is the goal of National Heritage Areas?
NHAs draw visitors to local heritage and outdoor recreation attractions and businesses. They encourage public and private partners to collaboratively plan and implement programs and projects that preserve, enhance, and celebrate America’s defining historic places and landscapes.

NHAs work with communities to conserve natural resources, landscapes, and historic places; strengthen community identity and economic vitality; educate residents and visitors about the region’s history; and attract heritage and outdoor tourism to promote economic vitality.

What are the Benefits of National Heritage Areas?
As a NHA, the region will benefit from enhanced national identity and exposure and better access to National Park Service assistance. A 2012 study by the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and National Park Service showed that NHAs contribute $12.9 billion annually to the national economy and support 148,000 jobs. The economic benefit of NHAs in the Northeast Region was $5.4 billion annually and 66,880 jobs.

This Place Matters: Delaware & Lehigh Canals

For 30 years, the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor has worked to preserve the historic Lehigh and Delaware Canals. These canals were first and foremost coal carriers. Built initially to carry anthracite coal to Philadelphia, they became a conduit for coal shipped all over the eastern United States. By the mid-19th century, countless small and large coal yards were located along the canals. The Fritch Coal Company in Bethlehem, Northampton County, founded in 1921, was the largest coal yard on the Lehigh Canal.

Named for the abundant growth of Black Walnut trees in the area, Walnutport is home to one of the two remaining original stone locktender’s houses on the Lehigh canal. In 1987, Walnutport Borough began restoration work on the locktender’s house and Lock 23. Last year, Walnutport restored the next lock along the canal, Lock 24, ensuring that their section of the Lehigh Canal remains stable and watered for future generations.

Additionally, the Lehigh Canal was used as a source of recreation for local residents. To beat the summer heat, the more adventurous townspeople would go for a swim in the canal, despite occasionally getting covered in coal dust. During winter many would skate across the frozen water, which folks still do today.

To learn more about these canals and plan a visit, click here.

2018 “Do 6” Award Winners

PA Route 6 National Heritage Area has announced the winners of this year’s “Do 6” Awards. These individuals, organizations, businesses, and corporations exemplify the mission of the PA Route 6 Alliance to protect, preserve, and enhance the scenic, cultural, historical, and recreational resources of Pennsylvania’s northern tier. To find out more about the winners listed below, click here.

Heritage Partnership Award
Winner: Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park Association

Heritage Tourism Award
Winner: Venango General Store

Artisan Of The Year
Winner: Curt Weinhold, Photographer

Heritage Leadership Award
Winner: Dan Glotz, Warren County Planner

Heritage Community Of The Year
Winner: White Mills, Wayne County


The First 9/11 Trail Ride Was Completed in 23 Days

Starting on April 11 (at the Pentagon), the September 11 National Memorial Trail Alliance led the first-ever complete bike ride connecting the three 9-11 memorial locations. The inaugural ride encompassed 23-days and
covered almost 1,300 miles. The small group of core riders, all Board Members, followed the current mapped route, increased awareness of the Trail, and supported the local communities currently making improvements on segments of the alignment.

“After many years of dedicated volunteer efforts and support in dozens of communities, we’re looking forward to sharing a Trail designed to commemorate the tragic events of 9/11 and to celebrate what’s best about America,” said Thomas Baxter, Executive Director of the Sept. 11th National Memorial Trail.

Events and press activities were set up each day with local partners provided opportunities to learn more about the September 11th National Memorial Trail. The Organization’s Board Members with the most direct ties to each memorial were involved with activities at the Pentagon Memorial, Flight 93 National Memorial, and the September 11 National Memorial and Museum in New York City. During the ride, the group biked on a range of local and regional trails that make up the 911 Trail, visited National and State parks, and stopped at other locations on the route that honor the memory of those who lost their lives that day.

Tim Brown, 911 Trail Board, Retired FDNY Firefighter, and founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “After September 11th, in every firehouse around NYC, the words “Never Forget” became the mantra. These words have special meaning to us, but in particular, they mean Never Forget the individual lives that were lost that day. Never Forget who they each were. Never Forget their parents, their spouses, their children their legacy. So when you ride or walk this Trail, keep these people in your thoughts and prayers. Never Forget.”

You can find the same trail routes that they took here and complete the 23-day trail route yourself! 

*Click on the map above to view a larger version. 

Financial Trail Ride Supporters
REI, Point Park University, Crystal Steel Fabricators, Dominion Energy, CycleLife HQ, PA DCNR, Alta Planning + Design, Laird Recreation & Land Planning, C&O Canal Trust, Doylestown Bike Works, Rothrock Outfitters, Capital Trails Coalition, The Circuit, National Park Service, New Jersey State Park Service, New Jersey Forest Fire Service, Morris County Parks, National 9-11 Memorial and Museum, Friends of Liberty State Park, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, Great Allegheny Passage, Main Line Canal Greenway, Schuylkill River Greenways, East Coast Greenway, Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Morris Area Freewheelers Foundation, Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail, Maryland DOT/MARC, Berlin (PA) Borough, Northampton County (PA).


Sheepskin Trail Continues to Develop

Point Marion, PA (May 7, 2018)  The Fayette County Commissioners were joined by many officials, volunteers, and partner organizations this morning to break ground on the Point Marion Segment Project of the Sheepskin Trail.  Construction of this segment, the southernmost of the trail, will complete 1.7 miles of the Sheepskin Trail beginning at the West Virginia border, north through Springhill Township, and into Point Marion Borough to the Cheat River.  Following its completion, the Point Marion Segment Project will provide a direct connection to the 48-mile Mon River Trail System in West Virginia. 

“This is an important first step in opening the door to the positive economic impacts a recreational attraction like this trail can provide to our communities and Fayette County,” said Fayette County Commissioner Vince Vicites.  “By connecting to the established trail systems to the south, we’re looking to replicate the success stories we’ve seen occurring in other communities in the region who have embraced the economic opportunities trails and their users provide.”   

Construction of the Point Marion Segment Project will include installation of trail head and gateway signs, bollards, gates, road crossing signs and striping, split rail fencing, trail surface and landscaping, parking and trail access, including ADA accessibility.  “In addition to the economic benefits, the segment provides opportunities for our residents to be active, use an alternative transportation option, and take advantage of the existing borough and state recreational amenities located along this greenway,” said Fayette County Commissioner Dave Lohr.  “We’re only 9 miles from the economic hub of Morgantown, and more investments will be made to provide services to trail users and visitors alike.”

Adding to the celebratory event was the announcement that Fayette County has secured funding to construct the Sheepskin Trail’s Nilan Road Segment Project through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s (SPC) Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside (TA) Program.  Working with their Metropolitan Planning Organization partners at SPC, Fayette County and its Sheepskin Trail development partner, the National Road Heritage Corridor, secured $906,360 in TA Program funding to construct approximately two additional miles of the trail from the end point of the Point Marion Segment Project, across the Cheat River and eastward along the abandoned Baltimore & Ohio rail line in Springhill Township.  This segment, running parallel with Nilan Road, will offer trail users opportunities to view remnants of and learn about the Cheat River Coke Works. Fayette County was previously awarded $96,000 in funding though SPC’s SMART Transportation Program to complete the design and engineering phases of the Nilan Road Segment Project

“The collaboration, teamwork, and partnerships at the local, state, and regional levels are an essential reason we’re here today celebrating this achievement,” said Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Director Tom Ford.  “The trail has been identified as a key gap in our state and national trail system, and we are thrilled to start construction on this piece.”

Once completed, the 34-mile Sheepskin Trail will fill a missing link to a nationally significant trail system, connecting the WV Mon River Trail System at its southern terminus to the Great Allegheny Passage at the northern terminus near Dunbar.  Crossing through the heart of Fayette County, the trail will connect schools, recreational facilities and municipal parks, and will link together the Youghiogheny, Monongahela, and Cheat River watersheds – creating a significant greenway of historical, cultural and natural resources.  The trail will alternate between a “rail-trail” and a “rail-with-trail” system following the old Penn Central line, the old Baltimore & Ohio/CSX line, and an active short line, the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad. When completed, the trail will connect many communities within Fayette County such as Dunbar, Mount Braddock, Lemont Furnace, Uniontown, Hopwood, Fairchance, Smithfield, Cornish, Outcrop, Gans, Lake Lynn and Point Marion.

“Fayette County and its residents are really fortunate to have the quality and amount of interested partners working together to complete all 34 miles of the Sheepskin”, echoed Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink. “I appreciate the efforts of the project partners as they continue to promote transportation alternatives, which are essential for creating more livable communities and growing the region’s economy.” 

SPC’s TA Program provides funding for programs and projects including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities; infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility; community improvement activities; environmental mitigation; recreational trail program projects; and, safe routes to school projects.


The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) is the region’s forum for collaboration, planning and public decision-making. As the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the ten-county region including the City of Pittsburgh and the counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland, SPC is responsible for planning and prioritizing the use of all state and federal transportation funds allocated to the region. As the Local Development District (LDD) and Economic Development District for Southwestern Pennsylvania (as designated by the U.S. Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce), SPC establishes regional economic development priorities and provides a wide range of public services to the region.

The National Road Heritage Corridor (NRHC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and one of 12 heritage areas under the DCNR Pennsylvania Heritage Area Program.  This designation represents recognition of the Historic National Road’s – the Nation’s first federally funded highway built in the early1800’s –  wealth of historic, cultural, scenic and recreational resources and amenities. The NRHC works with local, state and national partners to develop and enhance the visitor experience along the corridor and in the region to create opportunity for economic impact and growth through tourism and greater well being and livability for residents.

In late 2010, the Fayette County Commissioners adopted a resolution naming the National Road Heritage Corridor (NRHC) its Sheepskin Trail development management partner. Since that time, the NRHC has been working to identify and secure funding to continue the design, land acquisition and construction of this important recreational asset.

Preservation Workshop and Awards in Pleasantville

The Pleasantville Presbyterian Church at 145 East State Street in Pleasantville will be the site for this year’s Preservation Workshop and Awards on Saturday, May 19, hosted by the Oil Region Alliance.

The Workshop will include morning and afternoon sessions on historic preservation topics, such as historic metal truss bridges in Pennsylvania, historic district guidelines, gravemarker preservation at Neilltown Church Cemetery, preservation efforts at Historic Pithole City, architectural walking tours, and much more.

The Preservation Awards ceremony will begin at 5:00 p.m. with dinner. Six local groups and property owners will be presented with awards to recognize their efforts in the preservation of historic properties throughout the Oil Region.

Full-day registration for the Workshop and Awards, including lunch and dinner, is $40/person for Oil Region Alliance members and $50/person for non-members. High school and college students may attend the workshop sessions and lunch for $10/person. Programs with registration forms are available at and the Oil Region Alliance office at 217 Elm Street, Oil City. Registration for lunch and/or dinner is due May 10 by submission of registration forms to Jennifer Burden at Oil Region Alliance, 217 Elm Street, Oil City 16301 or at

For more information about the event, please contact Ms. Burden at 677-3152, Extension 116 or

Celebrate Pennsylvania Small Business Week in PA’s Heritage Areas

This year Pennsylvania Small Business Week is April 29 – May 5th. It is a part of a nation-wide event recognizing the contributions of Pennsylvania’s small business owners to our communities and economy. Pennsylvania is home to one million small businesses that employ 2.5 million people.

Explore one (or more) of PA’s 12 heritage areas this week and support a few of the many small businesses that are scattered throughout. Check out our interactive map to help map out your destinations.

Celebrate Earth Day with Rivers of Steel

Pittsburgh’s rivers are teeming with life and many of these organisms cannot be seen with the naked eye. Spend some time at the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area’s booths at these Earth Day events and visit with their staff. You’ll observe freshwater plankton under a microscope and learn more about their region’s freshwater ecosystems.

Pittsburgh Earth Day – Paint the Square Green
Friday, April 20, 11 am – 6 pm @ Market Square

Pittsburgh Parks Earth Day
Saturday, April 21, 12 – 4 pm @ the Frick Environmental Center