Agency Spotlight: Caledonia State Park
The 1,125-acre Caledonia State Park is in Adams and Franklin counties, midway between Chambersburg and Gettysburg along the Lincoln Highway, US 30.
The park is nestled within South Mountain, the northern terminus of the well-known Blue Ridge Mountain of Maryland and Virginia. Within South Mountain there are four state parks and 84,000 acres of state forest land waiting to be explored and enjoyed. The soils on either side of South Mountain are ideal for fruit production, proven by the abundance of orchards in the surrounding area.
An 18-hole, par 68, public golf course is just south of US 30. Constructed in the late 1920s, the course is the oldest and one of the most scenic courses in south central Pennsylvania. For more information contact, Caledonia Golf Enterprises, Inc., 9515 Golf Course Road, Fayetteville, PA 17222, 717-352-7271. For more information, visit here.
For anglers, the East Branch Conococheague and Rocky Mountain creeks and Carbaugh Run flow through the park and the surrounding state forest lands, offering many exciting places for anglers. Brown trout, rainbow trout, native brook trout and some warm-water game fish can be found in these streams.
Carbaugh Run, a "High Quality" native trout stream, runs through the golf course. In 2015 a cooperative project between Pa. Fish & Boat Commission and DCNR was initiated to improve the quality of the stream as it runs through the course. Stream deflector logs are to be installed to deflect current and provide habitat and gabion baskets have been removed and replaced with native stone to strengthen the shoreline and further prevent erosion. A buffer has been established with native grasses to strengthen the banks and protect the stream. All these efforts are driven by the new and growing concept of the “greening” of golf courses to make their ecological impacts less troublesome. A new concessionaire has taken over management of the golf course, and supports these efforts.
The park features a large, ADA accessible swimming pool with a waterslide and a small snack bar. The pool opens for the Memorial Day weekend and then is open weekends only until the second weekend in June when it begins seven days a week operation, weather and staffing availability permitting. The pool is typically closed on weekdays beginning mid-August but is open for weekends including Labor Day, which is the end of the pool season.
There are about 10 miles of trails in Caledonia State Park. The trails pass through forests and historic areas. A brochure on the hiking trails is available at the park office.
About 740 acres are open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, rabbit, squirrel and turkey. Hunting is permitted in the adjacent Michaux State Forest.
For those looking to stay the night, tent and trailer sites are available in two campgrounds. The camping season opens the day before trout season and ends with the conclusion of deer season in December. Both campgrounds have drinking water, showers and flush toilets. A sanitary dump station is available in Hosack Run Campground.
Chinquapin Hill Campground is nestled on the side of a mountain among plenty of shade trees and is close to the swimming pool. Some sites have electric hookups. The park amphitheater is in this camping area and is accessible to the public from the day use parking area. Pets are prohibited in this campground.
Hosack Run Campground is one mile from the main day use area. All sites in this camping area are pet friendly. This campground has moderately level, open and shaded sites, and many sites have electric hookups. This camping area also has a small playground for children. There are ADA accessible sites available with a nearby family-assist restroom.
Located along US 30, Caledonia Lodge is a two-story frame house available for rent year-round. The lodge has a modern kitchen, closed-in porch, 1½ baths, dining room, living room, central heat and three bedrooms that sleep ten people.
Caledonia offers 5 separate 20-person sites for rent to organized adult and youth groups. This area opens the day before trout season in March and closes the 4th Sunday in October. There are flush toilets, picnic tables and fire rings. Advance reservations are required. Caledonia makes a great base for groups touring the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Caledonia’s Summer Sunday School, Cathedral in the Pines, dates back to the summer of 1917 when the Manges and Moyer families decided to provide a Sunday school for their children and other families’ children who spent the summer months vacationing at Caledonia, be it in tents or the increasing cabin community around the park. Since 1955, the Franklin County Sunday School Association has kept the tradition alive and offers outdoor, nondenominational Sunday school from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. All are welcome to attend.
Since 1952, the Totem Pole Playhouse, a summer stock theater, has offered performances during the summer months. For more information, visit here.
Called the Great Commoner, Thaddeus Stevens was an abolitionist, "Radical Republican" and was one of the most effective and powerful legislators of the Civil War era. Some historians consider Stevens the de facto leader of the United States during the presidency of Andrew Johnson. Stevens became the third person in American history to be given the privilege of lying in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, following Senator Henry Clay and President Lincoln.
The Caledonia Arts and Crafts Fair is held annually on the second Saturday in July. Join as many as 150 skilled crafts people and artists as they display and sell their creations.
After graduation from Dartmouth in 1815, Stevens moved to York, Pa. to teach, but within a year moved to Gettysburg, Pa. to practice law, dabble in real estate and in 1822, enter the iron business with the opening of Maria Furnace in Fairfield, Adams County.
Finding better iron ore in Franklin County, Stevens built a new charcoal iron works, which went into blast in 1837. The Caledonia Iron Works grew to include the charcoal iron furnace, forge, rolling mill, stables, warehouses, blacksmith shop, sawmill, and tenement houses for the workers and their families.
While Thaddeus Stevens fought for abolition in Washington DC, Caledonia Iron Works furnace foreman William Hammett was a conductor for the Underground Railroad. Hammett would meet a conductor near Pond Bank and guide run-away slaves north to Greenwood, just west of the park, to meet the next conductor on the journey to freedom. For this, and Stevens’ tireless fight for equal rights, Caledonia State Park is a Path of Freedom site.
During the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War, the confederate cavalry of General J.A. Early raided throughout southern Pennsylvania but followed a policy to destroy no private property or industry. The cavalry burned and pillaged Caledonia. Early explained his actions, “Mr. Stevens is an enemy of the South. He is in favor of confiscating their property and arming the Negroes. His property must be destroyed.”
The Confederate army marched through the ruins of Caledonia on their way to the Battle of Gettysburg, then retreated back the same way, followed by the Union army.
With money from Stevens and the help of the Ahl brothers, Cumberland County ironmen, furnace manager John Sweeney rebuilt the furnace and forge, which continued to operate at a reduced capacity until 1870.
After a nineteen-year estate battle over the Caledonia property, the Diller brothers of Lancaster County purchased the iron works in 1887 and operated quarries for ganister sand and other minerals. In 1903, the Caledonia Mining and Manufacturing Company, then owned by a New York investment group headed by telephone magnate Theodor Vail, sold most of the Caledonia Iron Works lands to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as part of the new Forest Reserve System. The tracts of cutover forestlands were being set aside as a future supply of timber and to be “outing grounds for citizens.”
The Chambersburg and Gettysburg Electric Railway Company leased the area around the old furnace and blacksmith shop as a trolley park. The company turned the former blacksmith shop into a trolley station and built amusement rides and a dance pavilion.
In 1927, the Pa. Alpine Club, a local hiking group, reconstructed the old furnace stack as a reduced scale model monument to the iron works.
From 1933 to 1939, young men of camp SP-18-PA of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built many of the roads throughout Michaux State Forest and recreational facilities at Caledonia State Park.
For more information on Caledonia State Park, visit here.
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