Want to do something totally different in Western Pennsylvania? Visiting Rockland Tunnel in Venango County is for you. This relic of the age of railroads has transformed into an admittedly creepy must-visit attraction. Read on for more!
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History of the Rockland Tunnel
The Rockland Tunnel was formerly called the Woodhill Tunnel. The tunnel was created by the Pennsylvania Railroad, who was trying to reduce train travel time by straightening the path between Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Started in 1913 and completed in 1916, workers worked in two shifts, six days a week, 10-12 hours a day (according to the sign outside of the tunnel). It remained in use by the railroad until the late 20th-century.
No longer used by vehicles, the tunnel was transformed in 2003 into part of the local hiking and biking trail system. It’s now only used by pedestrians and cyclists. It has an asphalt path running down the middle complete with reflectors.
Looking for a place to visit nearby? Rockland Tunnel is less than a mile away from Freedom Falls, one of the coolest waterfalls in Pennsylvania.
Tips for Visiting Rockland Tunnel
You may *think* you don’t need a light, but trust me, you do. The tunnel is a quarter of a mile long and it is DARK. A phone flashlight will work in a pinch, but you will not be able to see very far ahead of you.
I highly recommend this headlamp, which I just happened to have in my hiking bag when we stumbled upon the tunnel. The headlamp is fully rechargeable, super lightweight, and has a 330 lumen brightness. You bet that I had it on the highest brightness setting for this tunnel! (My BioLite Headlamp is one of my ten essentials for hiking – click here to read about my recommendations for my ten essentials for day hiking!
The tunnel feels very creepy. Because of its slight curve, it is extremely dark. The tunnel also has a ton of graffiti. Personally, I wouldn’t visit this tunnel alone. Maybe that’s because I am a scaredy cat but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some horror films that start that way…
If you’re looking to have a longer hike, AllTrails has the Emlenton to Rockland Tunnel segment of the Allegheny River Trail mapped out. Note that if using this map, the trail ends at Rockland Tunnel. I’d recommend using my directions below to start at the tunnel as it is a must see!
How to get to the Rockland Tunnel
The tunnel is located at coordinates 41.2318, -79.7507. There is a small parking area at the end of Rockland Station Road. Just make sure to read the signs because there are some private driveways at the end of the road that could be easily blocked by clueless tunnel go-ers!