A Waterway Renewed

Dr. Colson E. Blakeslee Memorial Recreation Area
Photo courtesy of Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Formerly polluted and orange-stained, the Bennett Branch in Elk County is now cleaner, with aquatic life on the rebound. Formerly polluted and orange-​stained, the Bennett Branch in Elk County is now cleaner, with aquatic life on the rebound.
Rate this item
(0 votes)

A beautiful place to enjoy nature this spring is approximately two hours north of Pittsburgh along the banks of the Bennett Branch in Elk County. The Dr. Colson E. Blakeslee Memorial Recreation Area includes 24 acres of forested land, located off State Route 555 in Benezette Township, and provides direct access to this recovering stream.

For years, the Bennett Branch was polluted by acid mine drainage from abandoned coal mines. Through an extraordinary multiyear effort to clean this stream by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and other organizations, the Bennett Branch today flows cleaner and clearer, and people once again fish its waters.

The property was named in memory of a conservancy board member and local physician from DuBois. Dr. Blakeslee was a tireless supporter of conservation and environmental efforts, and he championed the restoration of the Bennett Branch and the need to provide recreational access to the stream. He previously took an equal role in the protection of the Clarion River, now substantially restored. Until his death in 2011, Blakeslee treasured our region’s beauty and advocated for the restoration and protection of our natural resources.

With more than 2,400 feet of stream frontage, this new recreation area provides convenient public fishing and boating access to the Bennett Branch. From a parking area, a quarter-​mile trek through rich floodplain forest and native wildflowers leads to the stream. This is an ideal site for fishing, canoeing, hiking and biking, and an equestrian trail crosses the property. Wildlife viewing, especially of elk, is also popular in this part of the region. For longer excursions, the conservancy’s Bennett Branch Forest is nearby.

For more information on Dr. Blakeslee and this recreation area named in his memory, view a plaque and signage at the trailhead or visit water​landlife​.org.


Explore Related Stories:

Other stories in this category: « Ode to an Ash A Belted Kingfisher »
Welcome to Pittsburgh Quarterly
Win a two-night stay at Hotel Monaco

To enter to win a two-​night stay at Hotel Monaco plus dinner for two at The Commoner, sign up by June 20 for our great (and free) newsletter.

We’ll keep you updated with web-​only stories and art plus exclusive news and updates. Get more between the issues! Fill out the form below, and be sure to check your email for a link to confirm your subscription.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh is a fantastic revival of the beautiful James H. Reed building, originally erected in 1903. The classic building in Downtown Pittsburgh serves as a captivating destination for both leisure and business travelers journeying to the Steel City. The stunning Beaux Arts-​style of the building is perfectly matched with the locally inspired interior of the hotel, which is both vibrant and whimsical. The Commoner, adjacent to Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, is an 120-​seat gastropub serving breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, helmed by executive chef Wyatt Lash. The restaurant’s menu showcases approachable, seasonal favorites, an expansive beer program and cocktails that lean toward the classics with an original twist.

Entry is open to anyone in the United States 18 years or older. Blackout dates may apply.

View past newsletters here.

Win a two-​night stay at Hotel Monaco plus dinner for two at The Commoner!

To enter, sign up below for our great (and free) newsletter by June 20. We’ll keep you updated with web-​only stories and art plus exclusive news and updates. Get more between the issues!

Already signed up? Please click the “Don’t Show This Again” button below

First Name(*)
Please let us know your name.

Last Name(*)
Invalid Input

Your Email(*)
Please let us know your email address.

Please check the box for security purposes.
Invalid Input

Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account.