Samuel Justus Recreation Trail has scenic river views overlooking the Allegheny River. Numerous benches along the trail allow sojourners to stop and soak in the landscape. It passes iron furnaces, oil wells, Pioneer Cemetery and 1844 Saltbox House visitors center.
Samuel Justus Recreation Trail has a paved surface suited for inline skating and bicycling. The trail extends 6 miles from Franklin north through green woodlands to Oil City. Samuel Picnic tables are placed at the Franklin trailhead and along the trail with two primitive campsites. Justus Recreation Trail is a part of 30-mile Allegheny River Trail following along former Allegheny Valley Railroad tracks.
This area of Pennsylvania has a broad historical background related to early involvement with oil production. After Franklin’s construction of refineries during the 1860’s its population tripled, with three railroads entering the city. This led to prosperity, with an abundance of new enterprises and jobs. The trail name honors Samuel Justus, but he is a man of mystery. He was a private man without existing photos or information written about him.
The Allegheny Valley Railroad was completed in 1868 transporting oil from its extraction in Oil City to Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania Railroad System purchased the independent railroad company in 1910, and in 1984 Conrail discontinued the line. The Glenwood rail yard is currently leased by AVR and used for loading limestone and sand to transport by rail.
Franklin is a western Pennsylvania city with a current population of 6,545. It is 70 miles south of Erie and 80 miles east of Pittsburgh. It is believed to be the only city in the state where four different forts existed. Its first French Fort Machault was built in 1753, a second in 1760, the third in 1787 and a fourth in 1796. Franklin is home to Applefest is held the first full weekend in October with nearly 1000,000 in attendance each year.
Oil City is at the converging of Allegheny River and Oil Creek. The cities name clearly identifies its kinship with the petroleum industry. After the earliest drilling of nearby oil wells in the 1850’s, Oil City became vital to the development of the oil industry.
Titusville is a city with population of 5,602 is where the ‘modern oil industry’ really began. Oil production peaked in 1891 requiring supplies from iron/steel and lumber industries. Titusville currently has a railroad station offering scenic train rides to Oil City.
Oil City is a drive of 3.5 hours of 205 miles from Rochester NY. Drive west on I-90 thruway to Erie PA, driving south on US 79. Then at Meadville exit onto route 322 driving southeast into Franklin.
Here is one visitor’s impression of riding on the trail.
“Good way to spend a crisp, yet beautiful day.”