Greenwood Furnace State Park
Nestled in the mountains of northeastern Huntingdon County, historic Greenwood Furnace State Park offers a unique recreational experience. The park is on the western edge of an area of Central Pennsylvania known as the Seven Mountains. It is an area of rugged beauty, abundant wildlife, breathtaking vistas and peaceful solitude.
A walk through historic Greenwood Furnace evokes images of the community that flourished here from 1834 to 1904. Greenwood Furnace was a busy industrial complex, with all the noise and dirt of a 19th century ironmaking community. The village throbbed with life: the roaring of furnace stacks, the shouts of the workmen, the hissing of the steam engine, the creaking of wagons loaded with charcoal, and the cast house whistle signaling another pour of molten iron. The furnaces were hot (3,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and cast clouds of smoke and cinders into the air, which rained down on grass, people, livestock and buildings, rendering everything sooty and gray. At night, the fire’s red glow lit the sky, probably allowing residents to walk about without lanterns. Greenwood Furnace was a village built around an inferno.
The park covers 423 acres, including a six-acre lake, and is surrounded by an 80,000-acre block of Rothrock State Forest. The park office is open 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday year-round, and daily during the summer season.
Picnicking: Picnic tables and eight reservable picnic pavilions are in a spruce and pine grove setting close to the beach. Unreserved pavilions are free on a first-come, first-served basis. A playground, snack bar, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts and a ball field make this area popular for picnics and reunions.
Snack Bar: A food and refreshment concession near the beach serves visitors in the summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend.
Swimming: A 300-foot sand beach is open from May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. Swim at your own risk. Please read and follow posted rules. A dressing area, snack bar and restroom are nearby.
Explore swimming for more information.
Boating: Non-motorized canoes and kayaks may be used on Greenwood Lake.
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 six-acre Greenwood Lake is regularly stocked with trout. Ice fishing is permitted.
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.
Hunting and Firearms: About 320 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey and grouse. Special state park hunting regulations and Pennsylvania Game Commission laws apply. Most of the adjacent Rothrock State Forest lands are open to hunting.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Orienteering: The self-guiding course starts across the road from the Visitor Center/Park Office. Maps of the course are available at the Visitor Center/Park Office.
Hiking: 4 miles of trails
Yellow, Green and Orange blaze trails are for hiking only.
Brush Ridge Trail: 2.75 miles, red blazes, more difficult hiking
Chestnut Spring Trail: 0.5 mile, yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Dogtown Trail: 1 mile, red blazes, easy hiking
Greenwood Spur Hiking Trail: 6.6 miles, orange blazes, most difficult hiking
Lakeview Trail: 0.25 mile, yellow blazes, easiest hiking
Monsell Trail: 1 mile, yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
Moore Hiking Trail: 0.5 mile, green blazes, easiest hiking
Standing Stone Hiking Trail: 72 miles, orange blazes, most difficult hiking
Stone Valley Vista Loop Trail: From the Standing Stone Trailhead, follow Standing Stone Trail approximately one mile to the vista for a wonderful view of the valley and park below. Return to the park the way you came or continue on to Turkey trail, a 2.5-mile hike extension over some difficult terrain. Turkey Trail follows an old logging slide down the mountain to Turkey Hill Road. Continue down this road to the park.*
Tramway Trail: 2.5 miles, blue blazes, easiest hiking
Viantown Trail: 2.75 miles, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
* Please refer to the Rothrock State Forest Public Use Map for all trails that are on state forest lands.
Camping: flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
Trailers and motor homes may use a convenient, sanitary dump station at the campground entrance. The maximum stay is 14 days during the summer season and 21 days during the off-season. Campers must vacate the park for 48 hours between stays.
Explore camping for more information.
Free Camping for Campground Hosts: 1 host position
Parking, restrooms and picnic facilities are available at the park. Additional designated parking areas are within the state forest. Trail maps are available at the park office or state forest office.
Cross-country Skiing: Trails and open areas of the park are suitable for cross-country skiing.
Snowmobiling: The park serves as a snowmobiling trailhead after the end of deer season in December.
Ice Skating: The ungroomed ice of the lake is popular for skating. Ice thickness is not monitored.
Ice Fishing: Ice fishing is permitted in the 6-acre Greenwood Lake. Ice thickness is not monitored.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Year-round interpretive programming makes a visit to Greenwood Furnace an interesting educational experience. Archeological work and extensive research has done much to uncover not only the physical plant, but also the social structure of the community. Guided walks, living history and evening programs interpret much of the natural and historic resources of the park.
Programs for school and civic groups are offered by appointment. School programs are offered free and are custom-tailored to meet the teacher’s educational needs. PA Act 48-credit teacher workshops are offered. Contact the park office for details.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Greenwood Historic Walking Tour: Greenwood Furnace was once a thriving iron-making village. Today, only a handful of its original 127 buildings remain. This walking tour explores a portion of the historic district and includes parts of the town, tramway, historic roads and charcoal hearths. A free guide to the historic district is available at the park office.
Blacksmith Shop and Education Center: This furnace-era building houses additional displays on the ironworks and serves as a base for many of the park’s educational programs. It is open weekends and holidays in the summer months.
Visitor Center and Gift Shop: In the park office, the visitor center is open Monday through Friday most of the year, and daily in the summer months. The visitor center has displays on the former ironmaking community. The gift shop sells a variety of items, including T-shirts and sweatshirts, park memorabilia, historical and nature books, children’s nature books and a variety of field guides for the novice and serious wildlife watcher. Proceeds benefit Pennsylvania State Parks.
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.
Wildlife is abundant in the area. The alert observer may see white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, ruffed grouse and many species of small animals. Duck, great blue heron and occasionally osprey visit the lake. At dusk in late May and June, whip-poor-will sing their unique call.
Feeding wild animals such as bear, raccoon, duck, goose, and skunk is strongly discouraged. When wildlife loses its fear of people, these animals become pests and dangerous situations can result. Please help in maintaining healthy wildlife populations by not feeding the animals.
The land of Greenwood Furnace State Park was once the home of the Ona Jutta Hage (Juniata), the People of the Standing Stone. The name comes from a tall stone obelisk that stood in their village at present-day Huntingdon. By the time of William Penn, the Iroquois Confederation claimed the Juniata Valley, and allowed groups of Shawnee and Tuscarora to resettle there.
By the late 1700s, the area was settled by many groups, including Scots-Irish and the German-speaking Amish and Mennonite. Most of the early settlers were farmers. By the 1820s, there was a traveler’s inn and sawmill, and several families living in the area of the present park.
Greenwood Works 1834 - 1904
After purchasing the Freedom Iron Works in nearby Burnham in 1833, Norris, Rawle and Co. needed a steady supply of iron. A suitable location with iron ore, limestone, water and trees was found here. Greenwood Furnace went into blast on June 5, 1834. The charcoal-fueled furnace produced about four tons of pig iron ingots per day with an annual output of around 1,200 tons. The iron was hauled by wagons over Stone Mountain to Freedom Iron Works to be turned into wrought iron.
A small village grew up to support the furnace, including about 20 houses, a company store, office, blacksmith shop and stables. Local ores were used, and in 1839, a large, rich deposit was discovered three miles from the furnace. The high quality ores made a superior grade of iron. By 1842, a gristmill was added and the present recreational lake was built to supply water to power the mill. In 1847, due to a depression in the iron industry, the Freedom Iron Works and Greenwood Works were sold at sheriff sale and were purchased by John A. Wright and Co.
John Armstrong Wright (1820 – 1891) was a civil engineer who helped found the Pennsylvania Railroad and the city of Altoona, its new rail center.
In 1856, the Freedom Iron Company began producing superior quality locomotive tires, railroad car wheels and axles for the booming railroad industry, utilizing iron produced at the Greenwood Works. A decade later, Wright built a Bessemer works at the Freedom plant, which was overseen by his friend Andrew Carnegie. To fill the demand, the company expanded to four furnaces, including an additional stack here in 1864. Greenwood Furnace was the only known charcoal ironworks in the state to operate two or more stacks side-by-side.
Greenwood Furnace No. 2 had a capacity of about five tons per day, with an annual output of 1,800 gross tons. Instead of waterpower, this stack utilized steam power, which used the hot gasses from the furnace to fuel the boiler. The older furnace was converted to steam power at this time. By the early 1880s, iron production topped 3,000 tons annually, making this site one of the largest charcoal furnace operations in the state.
At the height of operation in the early 1880s, the community consisted of two furnaces, ironmaster’s mansion, company store, blacksmith and wagon shop, church, school, seventeen stables, ninety tenant houses and a gristmill. About 300 employees and their families lived and worked here. Greenwood Furnace had a baseball team, the Energetics, and a 15-piece brass band.
By 1885, the older furnace was dismantled, and the second stack was remodeled and enlarged in 1889 and 1902. However, changing economics, newer and more efficient fuels and processes, and the shifting of industry to larger urban-centered complexes coupled with the depletion of local natural resources led to the closing of Greenwood Furnace in 1904. The village and the way of life it represented became a mere curiosity, a fading memory of a time when charcoal iron reigned supreme. Greenwood Furnace soon became a ghost town. The workers moved away as the town was torn down.
Greenwood Forest Tree Nursery 1906 - 1993
In 1906, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the former ironworks land and established the Greenwood Forest Tree Nursery to reclaim the depleted forests. The area around Greenwood Furnace, having been enriched by years of charcoal dust and fly ash, was found to be well-suited for growing trees. Seedlings remained in the nursery beds for one to two years before they could be transplanted. The first seedlings taken from these beds were used to fill in bare spots in the surrounding area. By 1909 seedlings were shipped to distances far away from the nursery.
During its peak years in the 1970s and 1980s, the nursery produced an average of three million seedlings a year. Nursery operations ceased in 1993. Recently, the Bureau of Forestry began planting trees to produce seed stock for use at its Penn Nursery and for sale to private nurseries.
Greenwood Furnace State Park, 1924-Present
The furnace was not forgotten. Former residents began to return to the now public land for recreation. By 1921, they organized an annual reunion called “Old Home Day.” Three years later, this reunion was a factor in the creation of the Greenwood Public Camp, forerunner of the current state park. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed facilities and made improvements in the park and surrounding state forest.
For more information on the CCC explore the CCC Years.
In 1936, Furnace Stack No. 2 was restored as a monument to the heritage of our state forest lands coming from old industrial concerns. Six original buildings and the cemetery remain, including the mansion, church, and blacksmith and wagon shop. In 1976, archeological work began to uncover the hidden remains of the community. In 1989, the National Park Service established the Greenwood Furnace Historic District. In 1995, Greenwood Furnace was designated a Historic Landmark by ASM International (formerly the American Society for Metals), the 95th site in the world to be so honored. This distinction recognizes the superior quality of Greenwood Iron that was used in the westward expansion of America’s railroads.
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Scouts and organized groups can earn free camping by completing service projects.
Many volunteer opportunities are available at Greenwood Furnace. Conservation volunteers are needed to assist with trail maintenance, historical research and demonstrations, work with environmental education staff in teaching groups that visit the park, act as campground hosts and help with special events and projects. For more information, contact the park office.
Join a Friends Group
The Friends of Greenwood Furnace State Park is volunteer-operated and staffed group is dedicated to the betterment, preservation and enjoyment of Greenwood Furnace State Park. website
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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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.
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Greenwood Furnace State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
Belleville and Big Valley: Five miles over the mountain is the beautiful Big Valley and the village of Belleville, home to several Amish and Mennonite communities. Most tend small farms in this fertile, limestone valley and travel using horse and buggy. One of the best times to visit the valley is on Wednesdays, when the valley turns into a seven-mile long flea market and livestock auction.
Penn-Roosevelt State Park: Located in the heart of the western section of the Seven Mountains and surrounded by a large block of Rothrock State Forest, Penn-Roosevelt is for people who like to get away from civilization and back to nature. The small lake is built in a natural depression known as Stone Creek Kettle. Ruins of the former African-American Civilian Conservation Corps camp can be found in the park
Whipple Dam State Park: This day use park has swimming, boating, picnicking, fishing, boat rentals in the summer and the 22-acre Whipple Lake. The upper end of the lake is wetlands that are best accessed by canoe. A variety of waterfowl and wildlife can be seen in the park
Rothrock State Forest: All three state parks serve as a base for an 80,000-acre block of Rothrock State Forest. The forest is accessible from public highways at more than 27 points and contains over 200 miles of roads. The forest is crisscrossed with numerous hiking trails. The state forest offers hiking, backpack overnight camping, birding, wildlife photography, hunting and fishing (in season), horseback riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, auto touring and other activities. 814-643-2340
Maps and Downloadables
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Alternate versions of the text of the brochures are in rich text and text formats. Click on the files to view them. To download (.rtf) files:
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.
Greenwood Furnace State Park Bird Checklist (.pdf) (2,084 kb, 3/11)
Common Birds Brochure
Common Birds of Greenwood Furnace State Park (.pdf) (416 kb, 3/11)
The entrance to the park is on PA 305; a 10-minute drive west of Belleville or a 35-minute drive southeast of State College.
GPS DD: Lat. 40.65047 Long. -77.75439
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.
Greenwood Furnace State Park