1966 Second Falls
My 1965 photograph published in the Valley News

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My Home Page
First visit to falls: Spring, 1965 -  Web page online since May, 1996 - Updated: Nov. 2009
I'll be glad to mail you a CD with all my high resolution pictures.

Book Cover

Book lists Jackson Falls!
"Waterfalls of the Mid-Atlantic States"
200 Falls in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
by Gary Letcher

I told the author about Jackson Falls and sent him my CD of pictures but the one he chose was far from the best.


New1.gif (185 bytes) 2011 A Penn State Ecologist Hikes Rock Furnace Trail - pdf file

Great Lakes Waterfalls  - Nice set of pictures
Flicker Photos  - Karen Wetmore
bjo's photostream
Greg Walker Studios
Beyond the Blacktop - 3 Photos
Jen Dobbs


Photo by Jeff Schaeffer
Jeff Shaeffer*
East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Ritz Camera's 'Capture Your World' Big Print Photo Contest:
Special Judges' Category - Best Panoramic Photo

Hi Lee; this is your cousin.
    I got a call from my brother yesterday (6-29-03) and he said that while fooling around on his computer he typed in Jackson's Falls, Pennsylvania for the fun of it. He was amazed with the results.  Your web site is terrific. I especially appreciate all of the family info that you have put together ( I just printed out the family history).
     * Our son Jeff is also interested in the family history. He graduated from Penn State in may, earning a BA in art with an emphasis in photography. At present he is putting together a photographic portfolio so that the job hunt can begin. I'll show him the pictures you have from Jackson's Falls; he might find a trip there for some photos worthwhile.

Beauty of Jackson Falls Destroyed by Loggers!

Cut Trees   Tree Stump

On March 24, 2004 we took a friend to see the beauty of the falls.  Instead what we found was total devastation!  Logging roads have been bulldozed on both sides of the valley and every decent sized tree freshly cut.  Only a small portion of each tree was taken and the remains litter the ground and block the trails. 

Upper Falls     Trail
The trails at Roaring Run are disappearing under the invasive knotweed.

Good News!
RRtrail by Gabelli
Roaring Run Trail Improvements
Winter 2005 - Latest information is that a lot of the mess above has been cleaned up
and the Roaring Run trail has been upgraded by the Roaring Run Watershed Association..
Pictures of the falls and trail by an avid hiker  -  His list of other places to visit

Go Waterfalling Website
Good pictures of the falls - click on picutes for full screen images

October 2007
October 2007    October 2007

October 2007       October 2007

North Side

With the temperatures in the 80s, it was a perfect day for our annual pilgrimage.   The logged out area around the upper falls is now covered with weeds.  This three year old growth hides the damage to the woods but there are few place to spread a blanket for a picnic. It is so over grown that it is easy to miss the trail to the second falls.  We were encourage to see at least four other couples enjoying the area.

Someone has made improvements to the dam for the swimming hole below the Upper Falls.  We were told that a local church now uses it for baptisms.
Swimming Hole

See a movie of the falls.

South Side

Middle Falls in Winter
Winter Photo by R. C. From Leachburg

Great Waterfalls . COM - Very nice pictures!

Schaeffer Family Photos from the 1920-1930

Upper Falls by Ruth Fresch   Middle Falls in Winter by Ruth Fresch
Upper Falls in flood and the Middle Falls in Winter taken by My Aunt Ruth Fresch.
Lower Falls by Ruth Fresch
Lower Falls taken by my Aunt Ruth

Roaring Run at Rock Furnace

Small falls entering Rattling Run just upstream from its confluence with Roaring Run.

Middle Falls: Two prints from the same negative.

Family Outing
 Upper Falls
 Fresch Family Photo - I think the second from the left, with the hat, is my father.
Notice that the area appears to be TOTALLY over cut.
These two pictures may have been taken on the same day judging from the shadows.

Upper Falls in Winter

Schaeffer Photo 1965    Schaeffer Photo 1965
Lower Falls                                                   Middle Falls
Pictures I had published in the Valley News in 1965 - Very dry summer.

Photo by Warren Hilemann

Second Falls  --  Photo by Warren Hilemann - July 2000

Middle Falls
Second Falls -  about 30' high

Lower Falls
Third Falls (lower) That are seldom Seen
Picture was taken by a "Geocacher"
Geocaching is a new hobby using your GPS receiver to find hidden treasures.
See more below.
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Lower Falls in Winter
This picture of the Third Falls was taken by another "Geocacher"

Mountain Bikeing YouTubeVideo on Roaring Run Trail

Located a few miles outside the small town of Apollo  was once one of the most beautiful glades in western Pennsylvania. Through it flows two stream of the Kiski-Conemaugh River
See:  Roaring Run and Rattling Run
Kiskiminetas Township

The main stream is "Roaring Run" and has been developed by the "Roaring Run Water Shed Association" into a hiking and recreational area. The falls are located on the north branch of the stream and is shown on many maps as "Rattling Run".   However, many old timers including my father said its name should  be "Jackson's Run."    

See my other "labor of love" about another wonderful spot, Camp Michaux.

Second Falls 2003

Second Falls 2003

The first of the three falls is the smallest.

On hot July days, my father, his brothers and friends hiked the few miles from town to skinny dip in the cool, deep pool they made by damming the stream at the First (upper) falls.

The stream flows down a series of rapids...

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...until it reaches the second and highest falls.

The Second Falls (middle) are best viewed from below. 
It is a steep and slippery climb on the other side of the stream to reach the pool below.

Above the falls was a lovely place to spread a blanket and spend some time with a good friend or to try to remember the words and melody to  "The Ash Grove" ...

A wind storm in the spring of 2003 blew down a number of these trees above the second falls and the loggers destroyed the rest in March of 2004.

... or to view the spring wildflowers.

The Third Falls is found by hiking about a half mile down a wooded trail and listening for the sounds below. These falls are vary difficult to reach due to the steep valley walls but worth the climb.

The Iron Industry

A mile or so down the trail  along Jackson's Run ("Rattling Run") meets "Roaring Run" at a picnic site.    There used to be a small town here with a boarding house for the iron workers.  Following the trail down the stream and just before the river you will find the historic Old Rock Furnace also known as Biddle Frunace.
GPS Coordinates 40� 33.541'N - 79� 31.731'W

Other Aremstrong County Furnaces

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Roaring Run below the bridge at the
confluence with Jackson's Run.

Camel Rock
"Camel Rock" located on the trail directly above
Rock Furnace - note size of person on trail.

Remains of Rock Furnace
Rock Furnace viewed from Roaring Run
Camel Rock can be seen above the remains

This model of the Rock Furnace on display at the Apollo Area Historical Society Museum was made by Gerald Burkett. 
He has made a study of this furnace & others in PA. 
The model is on loan from the Alle-Kiski Historical Society. 
Note Camel Rock in the model.   

Apollo Area Historical Society

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See if you can find the old town well behind a tree on the east side of the road about halfway between the intersection of the Rattling Run and Roaring Run trails and the bridge over Roaring Run.


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Stream at Rock Furnace




Date Built: ca. 1825
Date Out-of-Blast: ca.1855
Other names the furnace was known as:
    Biddle Furnace

    McNickles's Furnace
    Rock Furnace (ca.1847- ? )
    Rough Furnace

    Woodward's Furnace.
Latitude     40.55916
Longitude -79.52903

Roaring Run Trail Pictures

Rock Furnace Trail

The Roaring Run Trail Site

Directions from Apollo - Or take the trail along the river.
Jackson's Falls is located at FALLS on map

Google Maps & Images

MapQuest or Yahoo! Maps
(Find the driving directions from your town to Apollo, PA )

40� 33' 55"N, - 79� 31' 39"W 
VANDERGRIFT quad topo map.
-79.52694,   40.56580
Use your GPS to find the falls

(These are a fantastic resource for anyone who likes maps!)

Be sure to take a trash bag with you and pick up whatever trash you find along the way. 

On SR# 2051 just south of the intersection with SR#2050, you will see sign for the "KISKI TOWNSHIP Maintenance and Police".  Drive past the maintenance center and jut before the top of the hill is a place to park on the right side of the road.   (Ignore the "No Trespassing" sign.  The Twp Police told me it is OK to park there.) Hike down the road and you will see a trail leading down to the falls the upper falls. When you enter the woods, there is a path running on the bluff above the stream. The follow it to the right to the first falls and left for the second and third falls.   

The Roaring Run trail can also be accessed by continuing past the maintenance building for about 1/2 mile until you see a dirt road leading off to the right. This road is gated but you can park there and hike down Roaring Run to the picnic area at the confluence of the two streams. You can "rock hop" up to the lower falls on Jacksons Run and hike up the trail on your right to the other two upper falls.  Once you are at the Upper Falls, it is quicker to cross the field to the road and walk back down hill to your car.

You can also reach the lower end of  Roaring Run  where it enters the river.   From Pittsburgh, follow Rt. 22 to Rt. 66. Take Rt. 66 north to Apollo. Turn right onto Kiski Avenue immediately after crossing the Kiskiminetas River and entering town. Follow trail signs on Kiski Avenue for 0.8 mile to where it forks into Canal Street and Cherry Lane. Follow Canal Street, the right fork, for 0.4 mile to the trail parking area.  The parking lot has a Porta-Potty for hikers and bikers.  

GPS of the lot is N 40 33.862,  W -79 33.568.   The old railway bed was built on top of the old Pennsylvania Canal and passes through one of the stone canal locks.  The canal, which ran from
Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, operated from 1827 through 1850.  Along the way are outcroppings where iron ore was mined.  Follow the walking path and make a left just before the bridge where a gas well access road leads up the Roaring Run ravine trail. 
Biddle (aka Rock) - James W. Biddle built this furnace in 1825 along Roaring Run in Kiskiminetas Township. It went into blast on Christmaas day. The venture was not successful, and the furnace changed hands several times before it went out of blast permanently in 1855. A little of each side is standing. Much slag abounds. A huge rock overhangs the road beside the furnace.

From the center of Apollo go E on PA56 to Pennsylvania Avenue and turn right.   This becomes Old State Road (SR2046). At 1.4 miles 40� 34.711'N - 79� 32.547'W take Jackson Road (SR2050) to the right. This road leads to another road, Brownstown Road (SR2051), 40� 34.305'N - 79� 31.584'W. Go right on this road past the Kiski Twp. Maintenance and Police center on the right side of the road. Beyond this and just before the top of the hill you will find a place to park on the right side of the road. (Ignore the no trespassing sign. The Township police have said it is OK to park there) You may hike down the road and you will see a trail leading down to the Upper Falls on Rattling Run. When you enter the woods, there is a path running along the bluff above the stream. This will take you to the beautiful upper falls on Rattling Run. 

However, to get to Biddle Furnace continue past the parking spot on Brownstown road to a gated entry on the right 40� 33.902'N - 79� 31.079'W. Park here. Walk the old gated road for about 1/2 to 5/8 mile paralleling Roaring Run to the bridge over the run. 40� 33.641'N - 79� 31.646'W. Continue up the road on the south side of Roaring Run to the big rock on the left. 
GPS Coordinates 40� 33.541'N - 79� 31.731'W.

Lower Roaring Run
        The road fords Roaring Run below Rock Furnace so be prepared with waterproof  boots or spare shoes.
Trail which is maintained by the Roaring Run Watershed Association.
Bike Trail Details 


There is a Geocach located near the falls.  Judy and I found it the last time we were there and left some picture CDs of the falls.   The Geocaching Web site has directions, pictures and comments from people who have found the cache.  If these links don't work, go to the Geocache home page and enter the Apollo Zip Code - 15613

A lovely hike in the Roaring Run Watershed near Apollo, PA.

The best place to start hiking is at a small parking area at a green gated road. There is room for 2 to 3 cars. It can be muddy. The coordinates for this parking spot are N 40 33.890  -  W 79 31.074. Please don't cut across the field near the police & road department buildings. It's posted.
(These directions are for going down the Roaring Run road and then back up Rattling Run)

The hike in is very scenic, paralleling Roaring Run. The trail branches where Rattling Run joins Roaring Run. Rattling Run has 3 impressive waterfalls along its course.
For the lower falls, stay on the low trail & rock hop to the falls at N 40 33.773  -  W 79 31.651.
The second falls are located up the higher trail. N 40 33.918  -  W 79 31.607
The Upper falls are located up the higher trail.  N 40 34.017   -  W 79 31.627

This area is also home to the historic Biddle (Rock) Iron Furnace. It was in operation from 1825 to 1852. It's ruins are located right across the trail from the gigantic Camel rock (well worth the short hike) It's coordinates are N 40   33.584  -  W 79  31.709.

The Kiski Bike Trail can be an alternate starting point for a longer hike.
It's parking area is N 40 33.862  -  W 79 33.568.


   Hey Lee!, how ya doing this fine day?...I was just visiting your page at Jackson falls !...I grew up in Apollo and Vandergrift. We had many, many, keg parties at Jackson falls and roaring run! One night the cops raided us and I had to run, and ended up walking the whole way down the creek to the Kiskiminatis river, and on to Vandergrift, barefoot because the cops threw my shoes and shirt in the campfire, when everyone ran! I was only about 17 years old then.
     I noticed my friend Todd Davidson contacted you too! He did grow up in browns town, just up over the hill. He has 7 brothers and 6 sisters. They were kinda poor and lived everywhere! But all his family are my best friends to this day and his brothers informally adopted me!
     We are all musicians and we used to pick guitar around many campfires. At the end of the creek, down river about a 1/2 mile the are three caves where they used to grow mushrooms there. Many years ago, them acoustic guitars sounded great in there!
     Just above Camel Rock way up the hill is another rock, even larger, its over hang forms a sorta cave...great place to camp.

Well you have a good one!, And blow the froth of a few for me!


Gday Lee,
     In may of this year I traveled from my home in Katoomba, Australia to visit my fiancee, who lived in Apollo PA. As a keen hiker, I was interested in seeing some places while I was there, and I found your website before I went. I had never been to the USA before, and had no idea where to go.
    My fiancee and I followed your directions and we had a wonderful afternoon exploring the creek and falls. It is truly a beautiful place, and we have some spectacular photographs to remind us of that perfect day.
    She was very suprised that such a gorgeous place existed not 20 mins
from her front door and she never knew about it. 
     Thank you very much for sharing this spot with us, and if your ever hiking in Australia, be sure to look us up and we can put you onto some great walks.
   Regards,     Wayne Byrnes  Aug. 2003

    Found your site on Jackson Falls. I grew up in Brownstown, and alot of us kids would walk to the falls on hot summers days to cool off! Most of the homes in Brownstown didn't have indoor plumbing way back when,so that is where most of us got our showers under the cool water. I haven't been there in 30 years it was nice to see your great photos. I now live in Gatlinburg TN and it is alot like home here.
Todd Davidson

   Great web page. Many happy hours I spent there in the 1930s. Our seventh/eighth grade teacher, Mr. Knepshield (Colonel) used to take the classes on a hike to Jackson's on the last day of school. I always called Rattling Run, Jackson's Run since it was on the property settled by my family in the 1700s. There are still Jackson's living just up the road from the falls.

I have been wanting to take a hike up there before I get too old to do it. I am hoping to get my son and grandson to go along, since it is a part of their history also. We have lived in Mercer County for over fifty years, but Jackson's Hollow and all the swimming holes are forever memories.

When your father was my parent's pastor, there were a lot of Jackson's in that church also. I grew up in that church and it is a pain in the heart every time I see it sitting mostly unused. Anyone who grew up in Apollo in the 30s or 40s remember Mr. Knepshield. His name was Blaine, but his students called him "Colonel." Not to his face, of course. I remember your father's family when they were living on Grove Street. I have told a lot of my friends who no longer live in Apollo about your web page, so I imagine you will be getting more hits. Your family will remember Jake Jackson as my father.
     Dick Jackson (Jake) [email protected]

Hi Lee.
  I just ran across your web page on Jacksons Falls, as a boy I swam there many times when there was so much sulfur in the water you could not open your eyes. I remember when the old mine trestle went from one hill to the other just above the falls. It was a trestle above the first falls that went between two hills and carried mine cars to the main tipple on the RR along the Kiski River, When we were kids we used to walk through one tunnel for a short cut.

You might also ask other people about the huge rock near where the two streams join, we used to call it Camel Back and had many good times climbing on it and keeping warm with fires we built under it in what we called the cave.I am surprised that there was no mention of the blue holy that was just below the joining of the two streams.  

I was born on the old star route where Saxions store once stood, after that it was known as Lyons store. My grandfather worked in the Apollo Steel mill for many years and I attended the Kiski school on the old Star Route. I now live in Sea Girt N.J. and have for many years , But I still enjoy thinking about the good times I had at Jacksons falls.

Hope to hear from you.

  Hi, I just wanted to say that I've been going to Jackson Falls since high school and it's one of most relaxing places I've seen in the country. You did a great job on the website and I have to agree with you that the best view of the large falls is from the bottom (preferably with the water falling directly on your head.)

   Wow. What a site. (laughter) I'm stunned! Seriously.
   Lee - you brought back so many memories... I grew up in Apollo and moved away at age 15 to Colorado - I had no idea how much I had forgotten to remember!
   Are you a member of the same Schefer family who had a photo studio in downtown Apollo?  (No, but I knew him) I remember Mr. Schaeffer taking our photos in elementary school... sooo long ago...!
   Just wanted to comment on the site and the AMAZING pictures of Jackson's Falls - I often swam there and the photos do it great justice.
   My wife was breathless - "CAN WE MOVE THERE?" (laughter) See what you've started??
   Have a great day. Thanks.

  I was browsing the web and lo and behold there was Jackson Falls. I have nothing but fond memories of them, the trail and the woods that surround them. I have a special place in my heart for the second falls. It was there (down below on the island) that I received Jesus into my heart. I am living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I suspect that if I make it back to the Kiski Valley this Thanksgiving I am going to have to take a hike down the trail. Thanks for the memories!!!

The small pictures on this page were captured using a SNAPPY DIGITIZER from an 8mm video tape. 
The larger pictures were taken in the spring of 2003-4 with a Canon A40 Digital camera.  
The October 2007 pictures were taken with a Canon A630