Come out for a ride! This is part of a trail ride series sponsored by the Ohio River Trail Council (ORTC) intended to bring awareness to the wonderful trails in our 4-state region (Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia). All cyclists are welcome for this rails-to-trails, moderate-paced ride!
For this ride...
Join us as we visit the Ghost Town Trail for a 26 or 38-mile round-trip ride from Blacklick to Dilltown or Blacklick to Vintondale, Pa.
The turn around for the 26-mile ride is at the Dillweed Bed & Breakfast and Trailside Shop.
The bonus ride today is an additional 8-mile round trip on the Rexis Trail. At the Eliza Furnace, go BACK along the road and over the creek to reach the trailhead at the T intersection.
The Ghost Town Trail extends 36 miles through Indiana and Cambria Counties, Pennsylvania. The trail was originally established in 1991 when the Kovalchick Salvage Company donated 16 miles of the former Ebensburg & Black Lick Railroad to Indiana County. In 1993 the Cambria & Indiana Railroad donated an additional 4 miles from Rexis to White Mill Station known as the Rexis Branch. In 2005 an additional 20 miles were added to the trail - 12 miles in Indiana County and 8 miles in Cambria County. The Ghost Town Trail is designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service as a National Recreation Trail.
The Ghost Town Trail derives its name from numerous mining towns that once existed along the railroad corridor. Wehrum, the largest of the former towns, once had 230 houses, a hotel, company store, jail, and bank. Warren Delano, uncle of President Franklin Roosevelt, developed the town. Other ghost towns include Bracken, Armerford, Lackawanna #3, Scott Glenn, Webster, Beulah, and Claghorn.
The Eliza Furnace, in Vintondale, is one of Pennsylvania’s best preserved iron furnaces. An interpretive exhibit is located at the site. The furnace is on the National Register of Historic Places. Historical markers along the trail provide interpretive information about the Black Lick Valley’s intriguing history. Dating from 1846 the Eliza Furnace is one of only a few iron furnaces remaining in the United States which still retains its original heat exchanger piping. The two-acre site is leased to Indiana County by the Cambria County Historical Society.
The furnace operated from 1846 to 1849 and is a unique relic of the Black Lick Valley’s early industrial era. At its peak, the furnace employed over 90 people and utilized 45 mules to produce about 1,080 tons of iron a year. The furnace was not a financial success, and operated only three years. Difficulties in transporting iron by teams of horses to Ninevah on the Pennsylvania Canal, poor-quality local ore, and a significant drop in iron prices sealed the furnace's fate. Despite its early closing, Eliza Furnace helped bring the industrial revolution to the Black Lick Valley.