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6.30.2016

Sugar Lake, Cochranton, Crawford County

Today we take a look at Crawford County's Sugar Lake. This kettle lake is particularly beautiful, as are all of the glacial lakes that are located in Crawford County. With rural surroundings and unspoiled wetlands adjacent to this lake in the Erie National Wildlife Refuge, this lake is in excellent shape. I was particularly enamored with the beauty of this lake.
Glacial lakes are limited to the top corners of the state, for glaciers only occupied these spots in the state. Fifty kettle/glacial lakes are located in the state, with the vast majority on the northeastern side of the state. Seven of these lakes are located in the northwestern corner of the state, Edinboro, Sandy, Conneaut, Pleasant, LaBeouf, and this one, Sugar Lake. 
The lake is surrounded by pristine wetlands and forests.
There is a six horsepower limit on boat motors, and this helps to keep the lake in great shape. We highly recommend spending some relaxing time at this lake and the other kettle lakes throughout Crawford County and the rest of the state.

6.28.2016

Taking in Nature at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge: Crawford County

Today we continue our tour through Crawford County and visit the beautiful Erie National Wildlife Refuge. This 8,077 acre preserve is a beautiful place to take in nature. The place has some great wetlands, observation points, hiking, and wildlife, namely birds.
Where there are not wetlands in the refuge, there are woods and meadows. 
There are wildflowers all over the place

There are also a number of observation platforms that are elevated and give you a chance to take in some wildlife action.
In this spot you will see many swallows and other little birds dipping in and out of wetland's greenery.
A nice little grove of birches.
Birdhouse!
The refuge has been labeled as an "Important Bird Area" by the Audubon Society. 
The wetlands are spectacular to take in. In this spot, there is a handicap accessible observation platform that enables you to get a stunning vista over the wetlands.
Lilly Pads!
The observation platform!
This bird took it upon herself to be the traffic controller for the day.
An observation blind. These enable you to take in the birds with minimal disruption so you do not spook the birds.
There is a short hike to the observation blind that goes through beautiful mature forest. There is nothing like stepping into the woods on a warm day.
I was most impressed by this giant tree.

The birds decided that the shelter made to observe them would be better to protect them instead :-). This robin nest had lots of babies in it. Shhhhh though, we don't want to inform any predator birds of this location! This must be a hotspot for them, because a number of the hemlocks around the shelter also had robins nests in them as well.
The view out of the observation blind. At this point the mama bird had returned and was chirping at me to get away, so I had to make my exit.

The Erie National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place to spend some time away in nature. It is quiet, well developed, and in my opinion, one of the jewels of Crawford County. Be sure to check this out the next time that you are in Crawford County.

6.26.2016

McClintock Well: Oldest Producing Oil Well in in the World, Rouseville, PA Venango County

Today we visit the oldest producing oil well in the world, the McClintock Oil Well. This is only two years younger than Drake's first oil well, just twelve miles north of this location. The well has steadily produced oil for 155 years and it gives an insight into days gone by in the Oil Creek Valley. 
The McClintock Well is managed by the nearby Drake Well Museum, helping to preserve the story of the start of the oil industry.
Coordinates: 41.459632, -79.691542

6.23.2016

Titusville: A Relaxing Town

Titusville is home to the start of the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad, the Caboose Motel, Oil Creek State Park, the Drake Well Museum, and more. These things alone make a Titusville worth visiting, but the quaint downtown area really rounds everything out. 
The town's centerpiece is this beautiful city square. They frequently have musical acts play in the parklet.
There are a number of shops and eateries throughout the town. 
The town was home to some of the first oil tycoons, so you see many different mansion structures. One of these structures is utilized within the town's regional campus for the University of Pittsburgh, Pitt Titusville. This is McKinney Hall, which dates back to 1870. It is nice to see an old structure like this get converted into a modern purpose. There is a walking tour around the town that takes you to many of the notable places around town, including a home in which Ida Tarbell, one of the most influential writers in American history grew up. She is best known for having exposed the shady practices of the big business monopoly of Rockefeller's Standard Oil. 
A mural at the CooCoo for Clocks store.
The storefront for Carpenters Corner Antiques
The Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad launches off from the town.
John Heisman, legendary football coach and the man that the Heisman Trophy was named after, grew up in Titusville with his father working in the oil industry. He went to Titusville High School before going on to Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania. 
We had a delicious dinner at Maria's Italian Restaurant. Brit had the Shrimp Scampi and I went for the less fancy Italian hoagie. Both were great! Other popular eateries include the Blue Canoe Brewery and Missy's Arcade Diner. 
We spent the night at the cozy Caboose Motel and had an all around great weekend in the Oil Creek Valley. Our next installments will take us further into Crawford County.

6.21.2016

The Heritage and Beauty of the Oil Creek Valley


The Oil Creek Valley is an excellent place to spend some time taking in history and the great outdoors. What was once severely environmentally degraded has rebounded into a great display of the power of nature, with remnants of the valley's industrial past remaining. 
One of the first things you see as you enter the state park from the north is the Drake Bridge. This is just beyond the Drake Well Museum. This bridge dates back to 1882 and it was built by the former Morse Bridge Company in Youngstown, OH. This old iron through truss bridge is impressive, along with its sibling bridge, the Petroleum Centre Bridge, just downstream. They are of only a handful of remaining bridges from this company.
The Drake Well Station on the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad.
Some of the displays at the Drake Well Museum.
The valley is filled with these old remnants, scattered about and found in unexpected places. 
An old Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission sign commemorating Drake's Well, the first oil well in the world. 
A replica of Drake's Well at the Drake Well Museum.
Another classic through truss bridge. This one is within Titusville.

There is wildlife all over the place in the Oil Creek Valley and at Oil Creek State Park. The valley today is a story of how nature triumphs over the neglect of man. Remnants remain from the heavy industry, but nature has largely reclaimed these lands. This guy captured our attention for a while.


One of the replica oil derricks.
The Petroleum Centre Bridge.
More wildlife!
Petroleum Centre is said to have been the Dodge City of the east. The industrial development of this town far outpaced the civic development. The end result was a free market free for all, with lawlessness and vice abounding. There was no government, which meant no police, and absolute chaos. This town sprung up fast as a boomtown, and fell down just as fast. Today it is a ghost town.
The view looking at what would have been the downtown area.
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The rail through truss bridge for the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad. I love these old rail bridges.
The Petroleum Centre Rail Station
Tons of turkeys!

The Oil Creek Valley and Oil Creek State Park are definitely places that you need to check out. In addition to what we have shown, there are terrific opportunities for  hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, wildlife viewing, rail riding, and more within the "valley that changed the world." You need to make some time to visit this awesome place. This link shows a guide to some of the waterfalls and bridges at the park that we made from a previous visit to the valley. On this visit we spent the weekend at the Caboose Motel, and rode the Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad. 






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