Oregon Ridge Nature Center - History

On land that is now Oregon Ridge Nature Center, there was a very active iron ore and marble mining operation during the mid-19th century. In order to process the iron ore efficiently and profitably, entrepreneurs built an iron-smelting furnace along Oregon Branch stream. The furnace operated from 1844 to 1858, and produced at its peak production 4,500 tons of pig iron annually.

An industrial village developed at the edges of the present day meadow just to the north of what is now the Nature Center. Workers lived in tenant houses (one of which has been reconstructed) conveniently located near the ore and marble pits and furnace complex. Many of the workers were Irish immigrants or emancipated slaves. Such towns as Oregon Ridge were common in the industrial northeast United States by the mid-19th century.

Rear view of the Nature Center, from a hiking trail

The Nature Center

Constructed in 1983, the Nature Center structure houses wildlife and nature displays to delight all ages, as well as the library, and an auditorium for classes and meetings. Shown is a view of the rear of the Nature Center building, seen from a hiking trail.

The Nature Center offers a variety of exhibits explaining the history, wildlife, and natural environment of the Park. There are exhibits of the local fauna and flora and displays of our archaeological findings inside the Nature Center. Our wildlife exhibits include live snakes, fish, amphibians, honeybees, turtles and other creatures.

For more information about the Nature Center view the web pages listed below.

Nature Center Exhibits

Nature Center Staff

Nature Center Gift Shop