Good Life

See Whipple Dam history, trail improvements during walking tours with Centred Outdoors

The history of Whipple Dam State Park can be traced back to the early beginnings of our country and over 30 years before Pennsylvania became a state. On Sunday and Wednesday, you can see that history for yourself by joining Centred Outdoors on a walking tour.

The area that makes up the park was purchased from the Iroquois Confederation by the Proprietary Government of Pennsylvania in 1754 just after the beginning of the French and Indian War. The land eventually became part of Monroe Iron Works and charcoal was produced in the area for use in the iron furnace as evidenced by charcoal pits that are still visible to this day.

In 1868, Osgood M. Whipple purchased a large block of the land to construct a dam and sawmill near the current park dam that visitors see today. The dam was built to supply the water needed to power Whipple’s “up and down” sawmill. Although Whipple left the lumber business in 1897, the dam remained for many years and became known locally as “Whipple’s Dam.”

During 1927, the Department of Forests and Waters was considering a recreation site in the area and surveyed the old log-crib dam. A new dam was constructed upstream at a better location. The dam was completed during the spring of 1928 and provided a shallow pool–providing a prime place for water recreation.

The 256-acre Whipple Dam State Park is a delightful and quiet place to visit. The lake is the perfect place to indulge in a refreshing dip, bird watch, or just relax. The beautiful day-use area is wonderful for a picnic or hike.

Visitors on the Centred Outdoors outing will take part in a walking tour highlighting some of the improvements being made to beautiful loop trail that surrounds the lake. The trail meanders across the waters of the beautiful Laurel Run Creek and through stands of native Mountain Laurel. Visitors can also choose rent a boat to explore the lake before or after the outings.

Planning to attend this week’s adventure? Here’s what you need to know:

What: Centred Outdoors: Whipple Dam State Park

When: 2-5 p.m. Sunday, with guided hikes at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, with guided walks at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Where: Whipple Dam State Park, 3746 Laurel Run Road, Petersburg

Parking: Ample parking is available on site.

What to bring:

  • A refillable water bottle

  • Sun protection including a hat and sunscreen

  • Sturdy footwear capable of walking on a forested path

  • Long pants and high socks may be preferred for additional protection from insects and ticks

  • A light snack or picnic, especially if you plan to come early or stay after the hike

  • Child carrier/backpack is recommended for very young children

  • Binoculars for bird and wildlife watchers

Difficulty of hike: 1 mile long hike; moderate difficulty

Additional Information:

  • Pets on a leash are permitted, but owners are asked to please pick up after their four footed companions

  • Visit for complete event details and safety tips

Next week’s adventure: Arts Fest Urban Hike, July 7 from 2-5 p.m. and July 10 from 5-8 p.m.

Centred Outdoors will host free, guided adventures to Centre County residents and visitors every Sunday from 2-5 p.m. and every Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. June 9 through Aug. 6. The finalized schedule can be seen at, where users can log in to create their own profile, RSVP, and receive weekly emails about each event. While online registration is not required, it is the best way to receive event updates. Look to the Centre Daily Times every week for complete details about the upcoming Centred Outdoors destination.

Jon Major is the communications strategist for ClearWater Conservancy.