Bendigo State Park
The 100-acre Bendigo State Park is in a small valley surrounded by picturesque hills. About 20 acres of the park is developed, half of which is a large, shaded picnic area.
The forest is predominantly northern hardwoods and includes beech, birch, cherry and maple. The East Branch of the Clarion River flows through the park. This beautiful waterway was once polluted by abandoned mine drainage. It now provides excellent fishing and is stocked with trout by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Picnicking: Over 150 picnic tables are located in several picnic areas. Within these areas are charcoal grills, drinking water, four horseshoe pits, restrooms and three picnic pavilions. Picnic pavilions may be reserved up to 11 months in advance for a fee. Unreserved picnic pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis. Pavilion #1 is ADA accessible.
Make a reservation.
Swimming: The pool is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, unless otherwise posted. Depth ranges from three to five feet. Certified lifeguards staff the pool. The pool has an ADA accessible lift.
Canoeing and Kayaking: The East Branch of the Clarion River is scenic and appropriate for beginning boaters under normal conditions. A canoe launch is three miles upstream along Kilgus Road. Best water conditions are generally in the spring.
Motorboats must display a current boat registration. Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks, available at most state park offices; launching permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Fishing: The East Branch of the Clarion River flows through the park and is an excellent fishery. The river is stocked with trout and is home to many cold-water species. A fishing platform behind the pool allows for easy access for children and the elderly.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Bendigo State Park offers year-round environmental education and interpretive programs. Hands-on activities, guided walks and historical talks are offered to park visitors. Participants will gain an appreciation and understanding of the natural world and develop a sense of stewardship for the park’s natural resources. Group programs must be arranged in advance and may be scheduled by calling the park office.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Held on the first Saturday in February, visitors can participate in a variety of outdoor activities including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding and geocaching. Children and adults of all ages are welcome at this celebration of winter in the Pennsylvania Wilds. The SnowFest will have alternate activities in the event of no snow.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
The Bible, boxing and a mystery named Bendigo State Park.
William Abednego Thompson (1811 - 1880) was born into a poor family in Nottingham, Britain. The last of 21 children, Thompson was one of triplets named for three young men who escaped a fiery furnace in the Book of Daniel.
Thompson began bare-knuckle boxing as a way to make money. Due to his bobbing and weaving style, he was nicknamed Bendy Abednego, which eventually evolved into Bendigo. He was popular with fans because of his wild behavior in the ring, like doing flips, taunting his opponent, and avoiding punches. Thompson became the champion of all of Britain, before retiring and becoming a Methodist preacher. There are no records of Thompson ever leaving Britain.
In 1895, fifteen years after Bendigo’s death, a lumbering operation began on a small creek in northwestern Pennsylvania. The operation was built and operated by Alfred Truman, who also built a small town named Bendigo. After five years of business, the operation exhausted the available timber. The mill and town disbanded and the lumber company razed the facilities.
It is still a mystery how a mill town and creek in Pennsylvania came to bear the name of a left-handed boxer from Britain.
Early European settlement in the area was centered on the abundant timber of northwestern Pennsylvania. Towns and services sprang up around the lumbering industry. Starting in 1887, the towns and mills were linked by the Johnsonburg and Clermont Railroad that carried timber to the market. When the timber was exhausted, the railroad, sawmills and towns slowly disappeared. The old railroad bed is now the main park road.
In the 1920s, the townspeople of Johnsonburg joined together to form a community park for swimming, picnicking and outdoor recreation. The lumber company that owned the former village of Bendigo gave 100 acres to the county to be a park.
In 1936, during the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) began building roads, a dam and a pool at Bendigo Community Park. However, there were not enough funds to complete some projects and the pool and other facilities remained unfinished. Visitors to the park in that era were able to swim in the river behind the dam and enjoy the picnic tables and grills.
Floods destroyed many of the facilities in 1942, but the stone wall and dam on the East Branch of the Clarion River survived. Due to the debris, most of the park was unusable; however, visitors still frequented the swimming hole and picnic area.
In 1948, the late State Senator George B. Stevenson introduced a bill that transferred the property to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Now a parcel of the State Park system, improvements were made to the park facilities, including the building of a swimming pool. Bendigo State Park opened in 1954, completing the vision that the community began.
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Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation
Believing that each generation is responsible for leaving behind a better legacy of good conservation, the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation (PPFF) was created in 1999 to give supporters and users of Pennsylvania's parks and forests a positive way to contribute to the conservation of our publicly-owned properties. The Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation welcomes the support of individuals and businesses who share a commitment to conserving, protecting, and enhancing the natural, scenic, and recreational areas of this commonwealth. www.paparksandforests.org
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We love when young people ask us how to get involved!
DiscoverE has programs for young people ages 4 to 17, provided by Pennsylvania State Park educators. By combining recreation and education, we hope to motivate children to learn more and return often, leading to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment and conservation leadership.
In Watershed Education, teachers and students assess water quality of a local stream on a quarterly basis and develop strategies to solve local water quality problems.
ECO Camp - Exploring Careers Outdoors - is a week-long residential camp for a cross-section of high school youth from across Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Participate in action-packed, hands on activities and recreational adventures in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests that expose youth to conservation, recreation and careers in natural resources. Learn how people make a living working in the outdoors.
Explore education for more information on these and other programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events to find a program near you.
Do you take conservation personally? iConservePA is a Web site managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources whose vision is to inspire citizens to value their natural resources, engage in conservation practices and experience the outdoors. Take conservation personally.
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Pennsylvania State Parks and the Department of Conservation and Natrual Resources offer a wide range of civil service and non-civil service jobs, from foresters, to rangers, to engineers, to educators, to botanists and so much more. Learn what is currently available.
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Bendigo State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from the Northwest Pennsylvania Great Outdoors www.visitpago.com
Elk State Park: This beautiful park contains the lake formed by the East Branch Dam. Recreational opportunities include unlimited horsepower motorboating, water-skiing, hiking, fishing and hunting.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Area: The East Branch Dam of the Clarion River was finished in 1952 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The dam provides flood protection and recreational opportunities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates a recreation area by the East Branch Dam that has camping with facilities, sanitary dump station and boat launch. 814-965-2065
State Game Land 25: This 24,523-acre wooded area consists of long narrow valleys and flat mountaintops. Visitors are welcome to hunt, fish, hike and bird-watch. A large stone marker at the entrance to State Game Land 25 in Glen Hazel commemorates the purchase of this land in 1920. State Game Land 25 was the first purchase by the Pennsylvania Game Commission from the proceeds of hunting license fees. John MacFarlane Philips, Game Commission member from 1905-1924, worked tirelessly to develop a statewide system of public hunting grounds and game refuges, and this land purchase was significant in those efforts. The marker was erected in 1948 by sportsmen and friends of Philips.
Elk State Forest: The western section of this 195,911-acre forest is adjacent to Elk State Park. Hiking, birding, fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation is permitted on state forest land.
Explore Pennsylvania Wilds
Pennsylvania Wilds is two million acres of public lands for hiking, biking, fishing, boating, hunting and exploration in northcentral Pennsylvania. Within the twelve-county region are: 29 state parks, eight state forest districts (1.3 million acres); 50 state game lands and Allegheny National Forest (500,000 acres). www.pawilds.com
Maps and Downloadables
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Interactive GIS Map
The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
In Jones Township, Elk County, Pennsylvania, Bendigo State Park is four miles northeast of Johnsonburg on SR 1004, which branches off of US 219 in Johnsonburg.
GPS DD: Lat. 41.53168 Long. -78.6283
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Bendigo State Park