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HISTORY

The Clear Creek State Forest was founded on September 1, 1920, with the district office in Clarion. The two largest tracts -- in Heath Township, Jefferson County -- were the earliest purchases in 1919. This purchase included most of what was established as Clear Creek State Park in 1963.

The latest acquisition was the 3,184 acre Kennerdell Tract in Venango County made during 1980. This tract includes a stone iron furnace on Bullion Run that was constructed during the 1840's and remnants of past and present oil and gas production sites.

Logging was a major industry in this region in the early 1800's. The original forest consisted of:

  • White oak
  • Chestnut
  • Sugar maple
  • Beech
  • Hickory
  • Birch
  • Cherry
  • Basswood
  • Cucumber magnolia
  • Poplar
  • Butternut
  • Sycamore
  • Black ash
  • Elm
  • Pine
  • Hemlock

The first sawmill in Heath Township was built along the river in 1833. The early mills were generally located on streams and cut mostly white pine. Most of the timbers and boards were then made into rafts and floated down the Clarion River to Pittsburgh.

In the spring of 1864, the firm of Wright and Pier began hauling logs by rail. The railroad was built of cribbing and stringers having wooden rails and wooden pins. The line ran from an area in southeastern Heath Township along Johns Run to the firm's sawmill at the mouth of Callen Run on the Clarion River near the present day Heath Pump Station, a distance of four miles.

Records show that at least two other logging railroads operated on what is now the Clear Creek State Forest.

By 1905, nearly all the virgin forest had been cut. The second growth forest that followed the timbering period contained many more hardwoods than the original stands, including:

  • Red oak
  • White oak
  • Black oak
  • Chestnut oak
  • Scarlet oak
  • American Chestnut
  • Smaller amounts of:
  • Red maple
  • Cherry
  • Birch
  • Beech
  • Tulip poplar

Soon after logging, most of this area was burned over. During 1903, a fire started near the present Sigel Hotel and spread north and east, jumping the Clarion River near Heath Pump Station, and spreading nearly to Lolita before it was extinguished by rain.

Charred scars on old stumps still show evidence of this fire. During 1921, a fire tower was built at Hays Lot and was used for forest fire detection until 1994.

Chestnut blight first appeared in this area around 1912 and six years later, most of the American chestnut was dead. White oak and chestnut oak replaced the chestnut in most stands.