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Ghost Town Trail

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1991 established; 1995–2002, D.I.R.T. PA 3045 at County Line

Ghost Town Trail links former coal patch towns in the Blacklick Creek valley in Indiana and Cambria counties. The biking and walking trail follows a thirty-six-mile route, part of which runs along former railroad tracks. Historical markers along the trail interpret the valley's history. In Vintondale, the adjacent Blacklick Creek, polluted by acid mine drainage, is being reclaimed by the work of D.I.R.T. Studio (an acronym for both Design Intelligent Research Terrain and Dump It Right There), composed of landscape architect Julie Bargmann, historian T. Allan Comp, hydrogeologist Robert Deason, and sculptor Stacy Levy, using natural systems to treat the water in a thirty-five-acre floodplain, and creating a community park for Vintondale in the process. Bioengineered settling ponds and cleansing marshes have been created adjacent to the walking/biking trail, which is lined with native plants and trees.

Vintondale came into existence to serve the Vinton Colliery Company's six mines and coke works in the Blacklick Creek area that operated from 1892 to 1968. Built much earlier (1845–1846), the Eliza furnace happened to be on the land purchased by the coal company. It was built by David Ritter and George Rodgers without mortar between the stones, but for a variety of reasons operated only until 1849. It stands in the community park along the trail and is kept in excellent repair by the Cambria County Historical Society. The series of cast-iron pipes at the top of the structure functioned as a heat exchanger and allowed for the preheating of the air that was blown into the furnace. This is one of the few furnaces with its hot blast coils intact.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Ghost Town Trail", [Ebensburg, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 319-319.

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