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Hells Hollow Falls at McConnells Mill State Park - Multiple Exposures
Hell's Hollow Falls

Hell's Hollow Falls is found in the McConnell's Mill State Park, Portersville, Pennsylvania.

The Hell's Hollow area has a wide array of wildflowers and habitats, in addition to what is seen in the gorge area of Slippery Rock Creek. One of the many trails leads to a cascading waterfall and one of the two remaining iron furnaces in the area. The Lawrence Furnace was constructed about 1864 against and in a cliff to take advantage of the natural ramp for charging the furnace. The Wilroy Iron Furnace, built in 1854, and one of the best preserved in Western Pennsylvania is located just north of McConnell's Mill State Park on private land (Rose Point).


McConnell's Mill State Park was formally dedicated as a State Park in October 1957 and became a National Natural Landmark in May 1974. The striking scenery and deep gorge of the Slippery Rock Creek, flowing through the park, is attributed to the glaciation of the area several tens of thousands of years ago. The southernmost extent of the Wisconsin Ice Sheet dammed up Muddy Creek and Slippery Rock Creek, creating a lake system. As the ice melted, glacial Lake Arthur drained into Slippery Rock valley. As the ice dam receded, this spectacular gorge was cut to a depth of 122 meters (400 ft) through an otherwise rolling countryside, and large house-sized sandstone boulders slid part way down the gorge. The creation of this gorge reversed the natural drainage patterns changing the flow of the water from the St. Lawrence River to the Ohio River watershed.

In 1868, Daniel Kennedy rebuilt his original mill, which was destroyed by fire. Thomas McConnell bought that mill in 1875 and improved it by replacing the water wheel with water turbines and the grinding stones with rolling mills. The mill, one of the first rolling mills in the country, processed corn, oats and buckwheat for local customers. The mill operated until 1928 when sagging profits and advanced technology caught up with it. The mill and the surrounding property was conveyed from the McConnell family to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and later to the Commonwealth with the wishes that they be preserved for future generations.

Nearby attractions

The covered bridge in the park, property of Lawrence County, is a Howe truss bridge, built in 1874. The bridge is covered primarily to protect the inner structures from rotting and rusting away which cut down on maintenance. It is one of only two covered bridges in the county.

The Cleland Rock area provides a scenic vista of the Slippery Rock Gorge, which is unique to the area.

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