Along Oil Ck from Oil Creek State Park to Oil City in Venango County
The McClintock Trail connects Oil Creek State Park to Oil City. The northern half is on a dirt road; the southern half is alongside the tracks of the Oil City and Titusville RR, away from the highway. The trail is named after its most significant feature, McClintock #1, which is the world’s oldest continuously-producing oil well. This trail is part of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail (page NE-15).
The northern section of the trail shares Waitz Rd in Cornplanter Township with an occasional automobile and snowmobile. The road is largely in the woods. There are only three houses along the road, which is on the opposite side of the creek from Route 8. Starting at the northern end, Waitz Rd crosses Oil Ck less than a quarter-mile west of PA8. At the end of the bridge it becomes a dirt road with potholes for 0.8 miles, including a short uphill and matching downhill sections. Near a house and power lines the surface becomes tar-and-chip for 0.4 miles then reverts to dirt. A quarter-mile just west of the railroad crossing is paved. The interpretive site for McClintock #1 is on the left just before the railroad tracks.
Location Oil Creek State Park to Oil City, Venango County
Trailheads Rynd Farm, McClintock #1
Length, Surface 3.4 miles total, (1.7 paved, 1.7 on rough dirt road)
Character Little-used with some auto traffic, rural road, shady, some hills,
Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles on trail section
Driving time from Pittsburgh 1 hour 50 minutes north
Paved trail continues south for a mile from McClintock #1 to Oil City, pinched between the active short line railroad and a steep hillside. The trail is close to the tracks and the slow moving trains, with a 4-foot chain link fence between them. Across the rail line are the backsides of businesses facing PA8, most conspicuously the closed Sasol Specialty Chemicals plant with lots of pipes and tubing. At the Quaker Dr road crossing, the trail jogs left and right across the road and the tracks, continuing between the tracks and the highway. Half a mile later, at the northern outskirts of Oil City near the Dollar General, the trail crosses busy route PA8, marked only by signs and with no roadway markings (2018). A short distance later the trail crosses Oil Ck on a railroad bridge. After the bridge, the trail turns right/west to cross the railroad, then continues for about 900 feet on the creek dike, and ends at Seneca St.
Local history, attractions
The chief attraction of this trail arises from two historical sites, one near each end of the Waitz Rd section of the trail. At the north end, turning south on PA8, crossing the PA8 bridge, and turning left on Old Bankson Rd leads quickly to the Rynd Farm station of the Oil Creek and Titusville Scenic RR and “Coal Oil Johnny” House, a timber frame house built around 1850 and moved less than a mile to its current location in 2002.
At the south end of the Waitz Rd section is the McClintock #1 historic site. Here is the world’s oldest continuously-producing oil well. It was drilled with muscle power in 1861 and has produced continuously since then. This is a shallow, stripper well; this sort of well is often independently owned and produces only a few barrels of oil a day, but together such wells generate 30% of American oil. The well (now owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) yields only about 50 barrels a year, but it does still produce. If you are really fortunate, it may be running, and you can appreciate the light sweet odor of the oil. The site has parking, benches, and interpretive signs.
This trail is in the Oil Region National Heritage Area (oilheritage.org), which includes all of Venango County, plus the towns of Titusville, Hydetown, and Oil Creek Township in Crawford County.tells the story of Colonel Edwin Drake drilling the world’s first successful oil well in 1859, which changed the course of industry, society, and politics in the modern world. The Oil Region contains many remnants of the oil industry, as well as historic valley settlements shaped by native and immigrant populations.
Extensions of the ride
The next segment to the north along the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail is Oil Creak State Park Trail (page NE-55) at Petroleum Centre. The route follows a marked on-road connection, described on page NE-58, with hills (up to 11% grade) to Petroleum Centre. When (eventually) the Oil Creek State Park Trail is extended beyond Petroleum Centre south to Rynd Farm, the connection to the Oil Creek State Park Trail will be at the “Coal Oil Johnny” House, less than a tenth of a mile south on PA8.
The next segment to the south along the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail is a seamless connection to the Oil City Trail (page NE-67) at the end of the dike with a left/south turn on to Seneca St.
The township is in the process of paving Waitz road. About one third was done in 2016, with another third was done in 2017, and the final third should be completed in 2018. Although the road is paved, it is still a little rough.
The development of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail has raised the priority of extending the trail north from the end of the McClintock Trail at Rynd Farm/“Coal Jonny House” to Petroleum Centre, where it would connect with the Oil Creek State Park Trail (page NE-55). The State Park has been evaluating options for this segment of the trail.
Vicinity: Directions begin northbound on PA8 at the end of the bypass around Oil City. To reach this point from Pittsburgh, go north on I79, east on I80, and north on PA8, taking the PA8 bypass around Oil City.
Rynd Farm (northern) trailhead: From the northern end of the PA8 bypass, continue north 3.4 miles on PA8 to the turnoff for Rynd Farm at Oil Creek State Park. The correct turnoff is just south of the PA8 bridge over Oil Ck. Turn right/east on Old Bankson Rd and go about a tenth of a mile to parking at the scenic railroad station. To reach the trail, return to PA8, turn right/northwest, cross the bridge, and immediately turn left/south on Waitz Rd. This parking lot will eventually become the southern trailhead for the Oil Creek State Park Trail (page NE-55).
McClintock #1 Well trailhead: From the northern end of the PA8 bypass, continue north 1.7 miles on PA8 to Waitz Rd; this is just before PA8 crosses Oil Ck. Turn left/west on Waitz Rd, cross the railroad tracks, and turn right/north into the McClintock #1 interpretive area. The trail continues north on Waitz Rd.
Oil Creek Memorial Landing (southern) trailhead: From the northern end of the PA8 bypass, continue north 0.3 miles on PA8. Just after crossing the trail, turn right/south down into the trailhead parking lot. The southern end of the McClintock Trail and the northern end of the Oil City Recreation Trail is about 350 to the left of the parking lot exit, on the same side of PA8. The 3.5 miles of the McClintock Trail is across PA8 from the parking lot. This parking lot is also the northern trailhead for the Oil City Trail (page NE-67).
Rest rooms, water: Rest rooms at Rynd Farm are open at times corresponding to operations of the Oil Creek and Titusville scenic railroad, octrr.org/
Bike shop, rentals: None.
Restaurant, groceries: Snacks in the gift shop at Rynd Farm, which is open at times corresponding to operations of the Oil Creek and Titusville scenic railroad. Restaurants, groceries in Oil City.
Camping, simple lodging: Hotels in Oil City and Titusville.
Swimming, fishing: None.
Winter sports: None.
Wheelchair access: Good on the section Oil City to McClintock Well #1. Dirt road and rough pavement from there to Rynd Farm.
Oil Region Alliance
Maps, guides, other references
USGS Topographic Maps: Oil City.
Trail brochure, Recreational Trails in the Oil Region, by Oil Region Alliance & Allegheny Valley Trails Association.
Text version of 20 Jul 2018 based on personal observation while driving the on-road portion 4/2017, bicycling the paved section 3/2017. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 3/2017.