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French & Pickering Valleys

The fields, forests, and communities that surround the French and Pickering Creeks are among the most scenic and historic in the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. Rich deposits of iron ore and limestone, coupled with fast moving streams dense forests led to the development of numerous iron and steel furnaces and forges in this region. Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Joanna Furnace, Phoenixville Foundry and Warwick County Park all offer visitors the opportunity to learn about America’s once booming iron and steel industry. The Schuylkill Navigation System helped to transport the raw materials consumed by the iron industry into the region and carried the finished goods down river to market. Vestiges of the canal can be seen in Towpath Park in East Vincent, and along scenic Rt. 724 between Reading and Pottstown. The Black Rock Sanctuary in Phoenixville was constructed in 1949 as a basin to help settle coal silt out of the Schuylkill River. In recent years the basin began to sprout native grasses and attract birds and other animals. Today Black Rock is a wildlife sanctuary and affords birders and wildlife watchers fantastic opportunities to commune with nature.

The Mill at Anselma is a one of a kind operating 18th century gristmill. Learn about the role of machinery in the production of the food we consume and then take a stroll around nearby Historic Yellow Springs. Yellow Springs was the site of the only official Revolutionary War Hospital and housed a spa and health resort in the 19th century. Rolling hills, picturesque horse farms, and a historical legacy that helped build a nation make this part of southern Berks and northern Chester Counties a great place for outdoor recreationalists, history buffs, and those seeking a quieter side of life to visit.

Places to Visit in French & Pickering Valleys

Binky Lee Preserve

Binky Lee Preserve is an 112-acre expanse of former agricultural land that is being converted back to more natural woodlands and meadows. A walk along the trails here provides...

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Black Rock Sanctuary

The Black Rock Sanctuary is located along a bend in the Schuylkill and was used by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a basin for settling coal silt out of...

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Chester Springs Studios

The Chester Springs Studio is a vibrant arts center at Historic Yellow Springs. Founded in 1978 as an offshoot of Historic Yellow Springs, the Studio grew in reputation as...

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Colonial Theatre

Built in 1903 as a Vaudeville House, the “Colonial Opera House” brought professional shows and live entertainment to Phoenixville for the first time. Real movie buffs know that the...

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Crow’s Nest Preserve

Crow’s Nest Preserve is made up of 600 acres of protected lands along French Creek. Its woods are representative of Piedmont flora, full of oak, hickory, tuliptree, beech, maple,...

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Delaware Valley Orienteering Association

In 1991, DVOA became the largest of the over 70 clubs affiliated with the United States Orienteering Federation (USOF). DVOA currently has approximately 700 members. DVOA’s primary goals are...

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French Creek State Park

French Creek State Park is one of 6 State Parks in the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, and one of the best places for outdoor recreation, rest, and relaxation in...

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Great Valley Nature Center

Since 1974, Great Valley Nature Center (formerly the Nature Center of Charlestown) has provided Chester County communities and the additional four counties of the Greater Philadelphia region with environmental...

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Green Valleys Association

Green Valleys Association is a watershed conservancy in Northern Chester County devoted to the protection of water quality and quantity. the GVA stewardship area encompasses 155 square miles of...

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Historic Joanna Furnace

Nestled in an area rich with iron ore, abundant woodland for charcoal, limestone, and waterways to provide power, lies Joanna Furnace — a historic remnant of Berks County’s thriving...

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Historic Yellow Springs

The history of Yellow Springs Village spans nearly 300 years. The Native Lenape first attributed the name, “Yellow Springs” because of the natural mineral springs that flow through the...

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Historical Society of Phoenixville Area

The Historical Society of Phoenixville Area contains exhibits selected from their growing collection of artifacts and documents. Permanent exhibits include Etruscan majolica, which was made in Phoenixville in the...

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Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is one of the finest examples of a rural American 19th century iron plantation. The buildings include a blast furnace, the ironmaster’s mansion, and...

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Jenkins Arboretum

Located in the heart of the Main Line of Philadelphia, Jenkins Arboretum is one of eastern Pennsylvania’s major horticultural and environmental assets. As a botanical garden, it preserves and...

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Mill at Anselma

Nestled along the Pickering Creek in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, the Mill at Anselma is an extraordinary artifact of 250 years of Chester County’s industrial heritage. Constructed in c. 1747...

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National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum

The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum is a project of the Graystone Society, a 501(c)3 public charity registered with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations, whose mission is...

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Paoli Battlefield Historical Park

The most pristine Revolutionary War battlefield has been unchanged for 230 years. The battlefield features educational programs and conservational activities, as well as Revolutionary War reenactments and public lectures...

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Phoenixville Foundry

The Phoenixville Foundry is a model of historic preservation in the Schuylkill River valley. The Phoenix Iron Company Foundry was built in 1882 and was home of the famous...

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Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative

The Schuylkill Highlands is one of seven ‘Conservation Landscape Initiative’ regions in Pennsylvania,and as the name suggests, includes the Schuylkill River Watershed for the most part and the southeastern...

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Spring-Ford Area Historical Society Museum

The Spring-Ford Area Historical Society Museum complex houses local industrial and commercial displays. It includes a historic 1861 house with seven rooms of domestic exhibits and a research library....

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Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge was the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army. The park commemorates the sacrifices and perseverance of the Revolutionary War generation and honors the...

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Warwick County Park

Warwick County Park includes numerous trails and meadows that offer bountiful opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding and bird watching. The day use area offers picnic pavilions and numerous...

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Welkinweir / Green Valley Association

Welkinweir, the former estate of Everett and Grace Rodebaugh is a 197-acre garden and arboretum that serves as the headquarters and educational center of the Green Valleys Association. For...

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