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.