The Kinzua Railroad Bridge, a marvel of engineering and a testament to human ingenuity, has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. Positioned in the serene Kinzua Valley of Pennsylvania, this once highest railroad bridge has transformed into an enticing tourist destination after its partial collapse in 2003.
But the allure of this area extends far beyond this iconic skywalk. The surrounding region brims with diverse activities and attractions, offering visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in nature, delve into local history, and engage in a multitude of recreational pursuits.
In this post, we will explore an array of things to do near Kinzua Bridge that can enrich your visit, provide unforgettable experiences, and offer insights into the unique charm of this area of Pennsylvania. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply a curious traveler, there’s something here for everyone.
What to See and Do Around Kinzua Railroad Bridge
So you’ve made the trip to Kinzua Bridge State Park, hiked the trails, and taken the nerve-wracking walk out to the end of the skywalk, so now, what is there to do? Some areas of Pennsylvania are so remote, have small populations, and don’t have the big-name attractions to visit, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do; you just have to go in a little wider circle to find them.
Here are a few ideas for you to do before or after you visit the bridge:
1. Zippo/Case Museum
The Zippo/Case Museum is about 20 miles from the Kinzua Bridge and offers an intriguing insight into American craftsmanship and ingenuity.
This world-renowned museum showcases the remarkable history of two iconic American brands – Zippo lighters and Case knives. As you wander through it, you’ll be captivated by the extensive collection of rare and unique artifacts that trace the evolution of these brands over the years.
The museum offers an immersive journey into the past, from vintage lighters and pocket knives to fascinating interactive exhibits. Peer into the Zippo Repair Clinic, where visitors can witness first-hand the meticulous process involved in maintaining these timeless pieces, and with an on-site store, it is well worth the time.
Whether you’re a collector, a history enthusiast, or just curious, the Zippo/Case Museum is a must-visit attraction near the bridge.
2. Allegheny National Forest
The Allegheny National Forest is a beautiful natural area in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, covering 514,029 acres. The forest is situated on the Allegheny Plateau and is the only national forest in the state. It is about 5 miles as the crow flies from Kinzua Bridge State Park. Nearby towns include Kane and Warren.
This vast forest offers a variety of activities, such as boating, camping, fishing, hunting, and picnicking. It is home to the Allegheny Reservoir, a 7,647-acre reservoir that straddles the Pennsylvania and New York border. Trout, pike, walleye, bass, and muskellunge teem in its waters to challenge even the most seasoned fisherman.
The forest features hundreds of miles of trails designated for hiking, bicycling, equestrian, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, dirt bike, and ATV riding.
The forest is also home to diverse wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bear, grey fox, wild turkey, and other bird species for those who love birdwatching.
3. Kane Depot
The Kane Depot, located at 1 South Fraley Street in Kane, is a significant historical landmark with deep roots in the community’s past. This building, constructed in 1871 by the P&E Railroad, is the oldest commercial building in Kane and once served as a passenger station. The depot is now a carefully preserved testament to Kane’s rich railroad history.
The Kane Depot contains various artifacts representing the region’s history, making it a must-visit for those interested in understanding its past. The depot is a relic of Kane’s railroad history and is now a museum that gives visitors a glimpse into the past.
Today, the Kane Depot is home to the Kane Historic Preservation Society, a volunteer group committed to preserving the area’s heritage. It also houses the McCleery Discovery Center. Visitors to the Depot can explore a wide range of artifacts that shed light on the region’s fascinating past and even pick up a couple of souvenirs.
As for Kane, it is known as the “Black Cherry Capital of the World” due to its thick forest cover and strong logging industry, and it is right on the edge of the forest.
4. Eldred World War II Museum
The Eldred World War II Museum is in Eldred, a small rural town situated approximately 30 miles northeast of the railroad bridge. Its primary mission is to preserve and honor the history of World War II, paying tribute to the service and sacrifices of the generation that fought for freedom.
It was designed to attract visitors of all age groups, with engaging and informative exhibits. One of the most striking features is an M551 Sheridan tank that seems to plow through the side of the building, drawing in curious passersby. Inside, visitors can delve into the stories of the men and women who contributed to the war efforts of World War II.
The Eldred World War II Museum serves as a valuable resource, helping to keep the memories of World War II alive. It is a popular destination for school field trips educating new generations about this pivotal period in world history.
5. Penn-Brad Oil Museum
The Penn-Brad Oil Museum, located in Bradford, is a non-profit dedicated to preserving the history and spirit of a historic oil community. Its mission is to provide a glimpse into the boom times of the world’s first billion-dollar oil field, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore this transformative era in global industrial history.
They offer individual and group tours, providing an interesting and educational experience for all ages. Through its exhibits, the Penn-Brad Oil Museum strives to keep alive the memories of the golden age of oil exploration and production in Pennsylvania.
Despite its wealth of information and historical artifacts, the museum maintains an affordable admission fee, with adults entering for just $5, while children under 12 can explore free of charge.
6. Knox & Kane Rail Trail
The Knox & Kane Rail Trail is a scenic, multi-use path stretching across several Pennsylvania counties. The trail is currently under the ownership of the Headwaters Charitable Trust, and when fully completed, it will cover a distance of approximately 74 miles from Kinzua Bridge State Park to Clarion.
The trail offers a variety of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Currently, a 4.5-mile section extending from Route 6 Kane Country Club through Kane to Lamont is open exclusively for hiking and biking. Additionally, a 7.5-mile trail segment extends between Kinzua Bridge State Park and Route 219 in Lantz Corners.
The Knox & Kane Rail Trail runs primarily through a forested corridor, providing a serene and natural environment for those who traverse it.
Notably, the trail is considered easy to navigate, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels. An average outing on the trail, such as a round-trip bike ride, typically takes around two hours, offering a leisurely yet engaging outdoor experience.
Overall, the Knox & Kane Rail Trail is more than just a path – it’s a journey through some of the most beautiful portions of the PA Wilds and Allegheny National Forest, promising a memorable experience to its users.
7. Kane Family Drive-in Theatre
The Kane Family Drive-in Theatre serves as a reminder of simpler times and offers a unique way to enjoy movies. Its nostalgic charm, coupled with its commitment to providing quality entertainment, makes it a must-visit destination when visiting the area.
The drive-in is a notable establishment five minutes east of Kane, offering a unique entertainment experience under the stars. The theatre, originally called the “Ideal Drive In,” was built in 1952 and has since been a popular destination.
Opening at 7:30 pm with movies starting at dusk, the Kane Family Drive-in Theatre continues the great American tradition of outdoor movie viewing. It provides patrons with an opportunity to enjoy a variety of films in a relaxed, family-friendly environment. The drive-in theatre, located at 6627 Route 6 East, is the only one of its kind in the area, making it a unique attraction.
Keystone Answers Fun Fact: Shankweiler’s Drive-In in Orefield opened on April 15, 1934, and was Pennsylvania’s first drive-in theater.
8. Old Jail Museum
The Old Jail Museum, located at 502 West King Street in Smethport, Pennsylvania, is an important historical site that was formerly a jailhouse. The museum is situated in Mansion District, a region that gained prominence due to Pennsylvania’s oil boom.
The museum serves as a platform to educate the public about local history. It offers a series of educational lectures and programs, allowing visitors to delve deeper into the past. Hours of operation vary, so before heading out, check out their website or call them at 814-887-5142.
In addition to its historical significance, the Old Jail Museum joins Eastern State Penitentiary for its rumored hauntings, adding an intriguing dimension to its appeal. Whether these tales are more than just Halloween tales is left to visitors’ interpretation.
9. Marilyn Horne Museum
The Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center, located in Bradford, is a unique cultural institution dedicated to celebrating the life and career of Marilyn Horne, an opera singer.
Housed in a 3,400 square-foot Art Deco building, it offers visitors an immersive experience into the world of opera and the remarkable career of Marilyn Horne. The exhibition space features a vast collection of costumes, films, and audio recordings, providing a comprehensive look at her illustrious career.
In addition to the exhibits, the museum also includes an assembly room and a coffee/gift shop, making it not only a place for learning but also for socializing and relaxation.
A notable aspect of the Marilyn Horne Museum is its location within the University of Pittsburgh’s Seneca Building, now renamed Marilyn Horne Hall. This connection to the university underscores the museum’s commitment to education and its role as an important resource for students and the broader community.
Admission is free, and it’s open daily all year; however, seasonal and holiday hours vary.
10. Majestic Trails
Majestic Trails, located near Smethport, about 30 minutes from the bridge, is a privately owned and operated All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) trail system that spans over 1,000 acres. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains Region of North Central Pennsylvania, it offers an immersive outdoor experience for off-road enthusiasts.
The trails consist of two loops totaling over 40 miles of one-way traffic, providing a challenging ride on mountainous terrain. They are well-groomed, wooded, and hilly, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced riders. Children are welcome here, although obtaining a safety certificate is recommended but not required.
In addition to the ATV trails, Majestic Trails also offers campsites for those who wish to extend their visit and fully immerse themselves in the great outdoors.
11. Bendigo State Park
Bendigo State Park, in Jones Township of Elk County, Pennsylvania, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. This 100-acre park offers an array of recreational activities and is known for its picturesque setting along the East Branch of the Clarion River.
The park is particularly famous for its large swimming pool, which is a significant draw during the summer months. Besides swimming, visitors can engage in various water sports, such as kayaking and canoeing on the Clarion River, which flows through the park. The river also provides exceptional opportunities for fishing, with trout being a common catch.
The park’s landscape is dominated by northern hardwood forests, including beech and birch trees, creating a tranquil environment. Wildlife observation is another popular activity at Bendigo State Park, with numerous species of birds and other animals calling the area home.
If you want to spend a pleasant day at the park, you’ll be happy to know that more than 150 picnic tables are available in multiple picnic spots. These areas have charcoal grills, drinking water, horseshoe pits, and restrooms, perfect for family outings or group gatherings.
12. Elk State Park
Elk State Park is approximately 25 miles south of Kinzua Bridge. The park has over 3,192 acres and is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and extensive recreational offerings.
The park’s centerpiece is the East Branch Lake, also known as East Branch Dam, which covers approximately 1,160 acres. This man-made lake is a popular spot for boating and fishing, with anglers often catching species such as walleye, smallmouth bass, and trout. The park’s boat launch facilities make it easy for visitors to enjoy a day on the water.
For those who prefer land-based activities, Elk State Park offers hiking, picnicking, and hunting, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a campground near the dam. Wildlife viewing is another popular activity, with the park serving as home to a diverse range of animals, including deer, black bears, and various bird species.
Picnicking is a favorite pastime at Elk State Park, with picnic tables at Instanter Drive Boat Launch and the picnic area by the dam. The area by the dam also has a playground for the kids.
The campground offers primitive and modern campsites. Whether you’re looking for a rustic camping experience or prefer the comforts of a modern site, there are options to suit your preferences. There are a limited number of sites, so reserve early.
13. Marilla Reservoir
Marilla Reservoir is a serene and picturesque locale approximately 5 miles west of Bradford. The reservoir constructed in 1898 serves as a crucial water source for Bradford and surrounding communities.
Not just a functional infrastructure, Marilla Reservoir is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The Marilla Bridges Trail encircles it, a beautiful 1-mile loop trail that offers stunning views of the reservoir and the encompassing woodlands.
This trail is a crushed limestone path that is easy to navigate and family-friendly, making it an ideal spot for leisurely walks, jogs, or bike rides.
The annual 14-mile Marilla Trail Race is also held here. The event includes 7-mile and 14-mile courses, all clearly marked over a variety of terrains.
Adding to the charm of the Marilla Bridges Trail are two scenic wooden bridges and a covered wooden bridge, which provide unique vantage points for visitors to appreciate the tranquil beauty of the reservoir.
For those seeking a longer adventure, there are additional trails branching off from the main loop around the reservoir. These trails take hikers further into the dense forests surrounding the reservoir, providing an opportunity to immerse oneself in the area’s rich biodiversity.
The Marilla Reservoir is not only a haven for hikers but also for fishing enthusiasts. The calm waters of the reservoir attract many who seek a peaceful fishing experience amidst the natural beauty.
14. State Game Lands 62
State Game Lands Number 62, covering an extensive area, is a significant natural reserve in McKean County. This vast expanse of wilderness is situated north of Mount Jewett and is just a short distance from the renowned Kinzua Bridge State Park.
The area is characterized by diverse geographical features, from undulating terrain to densely wooded forests, offering a rich habitat for many wildlife species. These features make it a prime destination for hunting enthusiasts.
Deer, bear, and turkey are among the common game species found within these lands, providing ample opportunities for both seasoned hunters and beginners.
The Game Lands are not just about hunting, though. It’s also a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Its location, close to Kinzua Bridge State Park, provides opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife observation. The serene surroundings and abundant flora and fauna make it an excellent spot for those seeking to immerse themselves in nature.
15. Kane Country Club
The Kane Country Club is a golfer’s paradise. This 18-hole golf course is open to the public and seamlessly blends the natural beauty and terrain of the surrounding Pennsylvania landscape into its design, providing a challenging yet rewarding experience for golfers of all skill levels.
Founded in 1912, the club has a rich history and remains a beloved fixture in the community. The well-maintained fairways and greens offer terrific views and a high-quality playing surface that keeps golfers returning.
Beyond the course, the Kane Country Club offers a welcoming atmosphere with top-notch facilities. Their pro shop is ready to equip players with all their golfing needs, and tee times can be conveniently booked to suit your schedule.
16. Rock City Park
Rock City Park, located on Route 16 South in Olean, New York, about 35 miles north of the bridge, is a remarkable natural wonder that offers stunning vistas of the Allegheny Plateau. This park is home to gigantic rock formations that were once considered a “fortress” due to their imposing appearance.
Situated at an altitude of 2,300 feet above sea level, Rock City Park provides an exceptional vantage point for absorbing the beauty of the surrounding landscape. The park features various hiking trails that wind through these unique geological formations, allowing visitors to explore and marvel at nature’s grandeur.
One of the park’s most notable events is the annual Gem-Mineral-Fossil Show, which attracts geology enthusiasts and curious visitors alike. The event showcases a variety of precious stones and fossils, adding another layer of intrigue.
The park is open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm, May through October, making it a convenient destination for weekend getaways and weekday excursions.
In addition, Rock City Park takes pride in allowing pets. As long as they are leashed, pets can join their owners on their visit.
McKean County Raceway
The McKean County Raceway is a vibrant hub for racing enthusiasts in the picturesque town of Smethport, Pennsylvania. This 1/3-mile dirt oval track has been a cornerstone of the local community, attracting visitors with its thrilling races and community-centered events.
The Raceway, housed within the McKean County Fairgrounds, offers high-octane entertainment. Classes include RUSH Late Models, RUSH Pro Mods, Pure, Street, Mini Stocks, and Kid’s Mini Stocks.
An Unforgettable Day
In conclusion, the area surrounding the Kinzua Railroad Bridge is a treasure trove of diverse experiences. From exploring the rich history at the Old Jail Museum to embarking on a peaceful kayaking journey in the Allegheny Reservoir, there is something for everyone in this charming corner of Pennsylvania. After a full day of sightseeing, you can wind down with a delicious meal at one of the local eateries or visit one of the wineries, distilleries or breweries in the area.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker or just looking to relax amidst nature, the Kinzua Railroad Bridge and its surrounding attractions offer a unique blend of experiences that will leave you with lasting memories. So pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the wondrous offerings of this beautiful region.