Orenda Park

Orenda Park is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of many, many people. The park is located 3/10 miles North of Boswell on Route 601 heading towards Jerome. The park may be reserved at no cost for family events such as picnics, reunions, etc. Contact: Phyllis Ickes at: phyllis@ickesoffice.com, or phone (814) 629-9161. Donations would be appreciated. It is your responsibility to clean up after the event and make sure all trash is placed in the appropriate containers...

Orenda Park was promulgated by the Boswell Area Historical Society and was dedicated on July 8th, 2000. The dedication ceremonies were introduced by the BAHS President, Lenny Lichvar. Opening prayer said by the Reverend Martin Breski, OFM of All Saints Parish, Boswell, Pennsylvania. A representative from Congressman's John Murtha's office was the keynote speaker. Other speakers included State Representative Robert Bastian, State Senator Richard Kasunic, Somerset County Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes, Gina Felice, the Mayor of Boswell and others. The Benediction was given by Lay Minister Larry Hoover of St Andrew's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Boswell, Pennsylvania. Entertainment was provided by the Somerset County Community Band. The park area was leased from Larry Hemminger, who also donated many hours of his time and equipment to the cleanup and renovations efforts of the park.

Dorothy Ferre, Larry Hemminger, Phyllis Ickes and LuAnn Gore. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Ickes)

Many volunteers from the Greystone House , which is located on the Lincoln Highway outside of Jennerstown, also assisted in the cleanup efforts. They planted trees, carried stones from the Quemahoning creek to use in the landscaping, laid foundations for walkways, installed drainage ditches, built stone steps, ran the weed whackers, mowed and cleared brush. Whew!!

This is one of the latest additions to the park, and a very nice touch...a gazebo for picnics or just sitting in a quiet place and contemplating nature and the wonders of our town. It was also the perfect place for the Somerset Community Band for our concert.

LuAnn Gore, Dorothy Ferre, and Phyllis Ickes enjoy the newly installed bench. Members of BAHS want to thank Larry Hemminger of North Star Equipment for installing our park benches in July of 2003. The benches were funded from a grant by the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor, Olga A. Herbert, Executive Director.

Just across Quemahoning Creek from the base of the tipple and Orenda Park, is the old Pump House. A lot of work has gone into cleaning up around the pump house. Extra money is going to be needed for the restoration, so please think about it, dig deep, and send your donations to: Treasurer, LuAnn Gore, 2915 Penn Avenue, Boswell, PA 15531.

Now...why did we call this beautiful spot, Orenda Park. We selected the name, because it was discovered the this word "Orenda" was an Iroquois word meaning 'magic power'. Due to the high quality of the steam produced by coal mined here, and and to distinguish it from it's competitors it was called Orenda coal. These factors played an important role in choosing the name. While some may doubt the magic power of our coal, it certainly is an excellent name for our park!!

The new interpretive exhibit at Orenda Park. Pictured is Ralph Miller, who recorded the interview for the sign. (Photo provided by Phyllis Ickes)

Pictured are the renovated Tipple supports in Orenda Park. The Orenda Park tipple bases have been rebuilt, with the help of a lot of people. Standing in the photo above are LuAnn Gore, Phyllls Ann Ickes, Dorothy Ferre, and Larry Hemminger.

Bricks from the Jenner Brewing Company which was built in 1913. Demolished in 1998. It was located on Route 601 South of Boswell

There's trout in Quemahoning Creek!!

For most of the 20th Century Quemahoning Creek was significantly polluted by abandoned mine drainage (AMD) resulting from underground abandoned mine sites. This pollution source was and is the greatest water quality impairment in the region as well as throughout the Appalachian coal fields of southwestern Pennsylvania. It is the unfortunate legacy of our coal heritage that has negatively impacted recreation and economic growth for decades.

In the late 1980ís efforts through both volunteer and professional conservationists and public agencies began to initiate efforts to design, fund and construct treatment systems that would begin to minimize the historic AMD impacts.

The formation of the Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project (SCRIP) in 1991, supported by agencies such as the Somerset and Cambria County Conservation Districts, federal Office of Surface Mining, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), began to significantly implement on the ground solutions of AMD throughout the region.

Much of the effort was focused on the Stonycreek River watershed which includes Quemahoning Creek. Because of a restoration plan created by professional conservationist and Historical Society President Lenny Lichvar, that received approvals from local, state and federal agencies an AMD passive treatment system was designed, funded and constructed in 1997 in Jenners. Then U. S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt came to Jenners to dedicate the system and stated that it is was among the finest water quality improvement efforts in the entire country.

In 2004 the same public conservation initiative that fostered the Jenners Passive Treatment system then constructed the Boswell Passive Treatment system at the Stoughton Lake Bottom property a mile downstream from the Jenners System. The Jenner Rod and Gun club donated $25,000.00 to the Somerset County Conservancy that enabled the Conservancy to acquire the property and public funds to be applied to the project.

The combination of the two systems, that work primarily by retention time to drop out the iron before it reaches the stream, results in preventing thousands of tons of iron a year from entering Quemahoning Creek that had previously impacted the ability for aquatic life to survive.

In 2005 Lenny Lichvar, a board member of the Mountain Laurel Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Allen Berkey, the Fisheries Manager for the Jenner Community Sportsmenís Club Cooperative Trout Nursery, coordinated, along with volunteers from both groups the first stocking of trout from Jenners downstream to the Quemahoning Reservoir re-establishing a fishery that had not existed in 100 years.

The trout stockings have continued every year since and although trout do not reproduce in the creek they do hold over from year to year creating a year round fishery. Orenda Park serves as one of the public access areas for anglers.

Recently the Sportsmenís Club has closed its public portion of the trout nursery. Outside funds are now raised each year from the local community to purchase trout. The Jenner Rod and Gun Club also contributes trout for the creek which supplements the ongoing stocking efforts.

In 2018 the Somerset Conservation District, with funding from the PA DEP generated Quemahoning Trust Fund, implemented a stream bank stabilization and fish enhancement structure project as well as construction of a canoe and kayak launch at Orenda Park. This enables the park to provide a better experience for anglers, kayakers and other visitors.

Orenda Park now not only showcases interpretive historic information, but is a green space providing public access to a reborn Quemahoning Creek all of which combines to create a better quality of life for citizens and visitors alike.