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Your Guide To The Mountains of Maryland, Pennsylvania & West Virginia.


Exploring: Pennsylvania’s
Buchanan State Forest

The Buchanan State Forest was named in honor of James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States. The area consists of five principle tracts that cover seventy-five thousand acres of Pennsylvania owned forest lands, administered by the Bureau of Forestry.

Winding through Allens Valley and westward over Sideling Hill in Fulton County are traces of an early military highway known as the Forbes or Forbes-Burd Road. Built by General John Forbes and Colonel James Burd, it served as a link between Carlisle and Pittsburgh. It provided the means to carry British military supplies to their Western outposts at Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne.

On Sideling Hill Mountain, along old logging trails bearing such names as Hinish and Sproat, there are remnants of logging railroad spurs built by the Reichly Brothers at the turn of the century. Nestled at the foot of the Western slope of Sideling Hill, near Oregon Creek, is the Oregon Ranger Station, site of the former CCC Camp No. S-52 which was built in 1933. During the Great Depression several hundred young men without jobs lived here and constructed most of the forest roads and trails which still exist near this area.

In 1940 this camp became quarters for conscientious objectors, draftees who were excused from bearing arms during World War II. In 1944, the site was surrounded with a high barbed wire fence and used again by the Army, to house German prisoners of war. Today, the observant visitor can still find evidence of the P.O.W. and CCC Camp facilities.

Less than a quarter mile from the Oregon Camp is the unused west portal of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Sideling Hill Tunnel. This tunnel and the Rays Hill Tunnel were completed in 1939. Millions of vehicles passed through these portals until a bypass was constructed over the two mountains in 1967.

Almost hidden in Woodridge Hollow is an aqueduct or culvert, a masterpiece of native sandstone measuring approximately 6 feet in diameter by 180 feet in length. It was constructed by several hundred stone masons and laborers brought in from Sicily in 1904, and was meant to carry the waters of Woodridge Run beneath the South Penn Railroad which would have traversed northern Fulton County via tunnels through Sideling Hill and Rays Hill. The South Penn line was never finished but much of the route, including the tunnel was utilized by the Pennsylvania Turnpike which opened in 1939.

The Sweet Root Natural Area, located in the vicinity of Chaneysville in Bedford County, was officially designated by the State Forest Commission in 1970 to be “preserved for scientific, scenic, and educational values” where no motorized activity is permitted. Originally consisting of a 69 acre virgin “Hemlock-cove Hardwood” stand along scenic Sweet Root Run, the natural area has since been enlarged to 1400 acres with the addition of second growth oak and oak-hard pine stands. The virgin timber can be reached by a trail beginning at the Sweet Root Picnic Area on PA Route 326 if permission is obtained from the private landowner. Access is also available from Blankley and Martin Hill roads.

In 1979 the natural area was designated for amphibian and reptile protection; whereby “the taking, catching, killing, and possession of naturally occurring species of amphibians or reptiles, are prohibited.”

A revolutionary war saltpeter cave is located just north of the Sweet Root Gap. This, along with the remnants of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, an early sawmill and one of the first trading posts in Bedford County, makes the Sweet Root Natural Area an area rich in history and well worth visiting.

The 568 acre Pine Ridge Natural Area, located approximately one mile Southeast of Chaneysville in Southern Bedford County, was designated a Natural Area in 1970. It is part of a state owned tract known as the “Resettlement Lands”, which originally was small farms. During the depression of the 1930’s, the Federal government purchased 13,000 acres of these marginally productive farms to encourage the families involved to “Resettle” on more productive farm land. The Bureau of Forestry (then Department of Forests and Waters) was appointed caretaker of the area until it was deeded to the Commonwealth. The abandoned pastures and fields have been reforested by pine plantings and by the natural regeneration of Virginia pine. These pine stands, intermixed with the original oak-hickory timber type, make this a unique area in Pennsylvania.

The Pine Ridge Natural Area is preserved as a representative sample of the succession that has occurred as a result of man’s occupancy, use and abandonment of the land.

The Natural Area contains various trails for hiking and horseback riding, and old foundations of barns and houses can still be found. There is an intact granary on one farm site and several apple orchards are still in evidence. A small family cemetery is located near the Bowman Road.

Martin Hill Wild Area: This 11,500 acre area located in southern Bedford County includes all the State Forest Land south of Martin Hill which connects Tussey Mountain with Evitts Mountain. An all wheel drive road from Martin Hill Fire Tower on the East and extending West for five miles along this ridge provides access to the Bean’s Cove portion. The southern portion, on the Tussey Mountain, may be reached from an access road extending South from a parking lot at the intersection of Bean’s Cove Road (LR 05002) and Martin Hill Road.

Two small open seep areas which have been developed into ponds called Big Pond and Little Pond provide an attractive watering area for wildlife. Deer and turkey are plentiful in the area. Occasionally a native bobcat is spotted and black bear make infrequent appearances. The area is known to support a population of rattlesnakes.

No motorized traffic is permitted inside the boundaries of this area. The aim is to keep it as wild and rugged as possible for the future.

For More Information:
PA Bureau of Forestry
Forest District #2
440 Buchanan Trail
McConnellsburg, PA 17233
(717) 485-3148

Related Links:
BedfordPA.com -
Gain some insight into local shopping, dining, attractions, events and services in Bedford, PA.

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Your Guide To The Mountains of Maryland, Pennsylvania & West Virginia.


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