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Latest Update - June, 2017
Early CCC Camp Postcards - CCC Camp Photos - POW Paintings
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From David Smith - 2/14/2017
I did my annual walk through Camp Michaux this week. I noted several areas that need attention and am proposing that those who are available assemble at the camp on April 22 at 8:30. Most of the work involves brush removal at some of the sites that have overgrown since last year. Tools needed will include loppers, trimmers, saws and chainsaws. Hope to see you then. For any of you who would like to go up on your own the following areas need attention:
3/28/2016 Vincent J. Montano
Map Showing the Fence Location.
There's a 4' by 4' spring-head box south of the Steps to Nowhere and just east of the swimming pool (there's an orange flag placed by archaeology students). Walk south from this spring-head box to see the ground lines from the Japanese fence addition. Follow the fence lines to the other side of the fallen tree to see a man-made... something, centered at the fence lines. It is a short column of concrete and stone which doesn't seem to serve a purpose, but I have a theory about what it could be. A 1945 photo shows a very large steel pole rising above the fence where the new fence joins the existing one.
On 3/28/2016, Vince Montano wrote:
Best Discovery of Camp Michaux
As PDF File
A Civilian Conservation Corps Boy Remembers Pine Grove Furnace
by Vincent J. Montano
Just published by the Cumberland County Historical Society in the 2015 Historical Journal.
(It contains an added paragraph that we couldn't fit into the printed version.)
Mr. Stasky's story provides us with a wonderful personal view of life at the Pine Grove Furnace CCC camp,
not only for us but for future generations that will learn about Camp Michaux.
Best Regards, Vince Montano
In Memory of
CAMP WALKING TOURS
Karl Smith's Poster of the camp
POW Inscriptions found
by Vince Montano
Almost everything was unrecognizable
except for "KASSEL" at the top step, so I decided to try
something I've done in the past that works well... fine dirt, a little
water, and a gentle brush to bring out the impressions.
It worked like magic. There is no longer any question the
repairs are POW made. One additional discovery today - the
concrete front step to the boys dorm (Calvin) directly behind the POW
New Inscription Found on Upper Dam
The area around the Old Stone Barn had been cleared for trees and brush
which has regrown as shown below.
Work day at Camp Michaux - Pictures and Text Zion Arendtsville United Church of Christ
A New Bridge to Nowhere Found
From David Smith: He has completed the prisoner database and now we have information on Lt. Momberg whose name ins inscribed on the Tom's Run bridge, and Erich John whose name is on the Deer Lodge farm house
Interesting Links and Finds
John Bland - the author of The Secret War at Home... has moved to Texas. Before leaving, he turned all his files over to the Historical Society. Dave Smith is continuing a project begun by John Bland to create a database of all the prisoners who passed through Pine Grove Furnace POW Interrogation Camp between May of 1943 and the end of 1945. At present, effective July 15, 1945, the list contains 7,400 German names. I suspect that by the time the list is completed with the remaining German names and the additional Japanese prisoners that came in that fall, there will be over 8000 names in the database.
AUTHORS NOTES about the history of this Web page:
Many places and events of minor historical importance that pre-date the World Wide Web are not on-line!
The exceptions to this rule are those pages created as labors of love such as this and my other page for another little known place - Jackson Falls.
In 2001, while creating the church camp links on the Beulah Presbyterian Church Web site, I added Pine Springs Camp. It was here that I began my church camping experience in 1951 and attended every year till 1959 when I was a counselor. I was surprised to find pictures of both my father and myself on their 1954 Memory Lane page! I'm the dorky kid with glasses on the right edge of this picture and my father is third from the right in the back row. I then began a fruitless Web search for information about another special place of my youth - Camp Michaux. Finding nothing online in 2001 was the inspiration for creating this page.
I first saw this region of Pennsylvania in the 1950s as a grade schooler attending Wilson College for women in Chambersburg. Not as their first male student but as a preacher's kid at a summer church conferences with my parents. It was there that I taught myself the art of canoeing while they were attending classes.
In 1959 and 1960, I was a delegate from Blairsville Presbyterian Church to the Synod of the Trinity's Youth Leadership Conference held at Camp Michaux. In 1961, during a brief interlude between high school, my first job and college, I was invited to return again as an ex-officio delegate with no responsibilities other than to make friends and take pictures.
Color prints were expensive so I was saving money by shooting color slide film. Very few people were into slides back then, so mine may be some of the few that exist. I used some cheep ANSCO film and it has faded but the KODAK slides still look good.
If you would like to see all my old slides as full screen images, I would be delighted to send them on a CD along with the current pictures from the camp walks and other documents about the camp. Send me your address and I'll drop you one in the mail.
Then as now, the Appalachian Trail (AT) passes through the camp and it was here that I first hiked on it in 1959. After graduating from Monmouth College in 1965, I began my career teaching the Physics at Churchill High School (now Woodland Hills after a merger.) Before I was married, I was the leader of the Explorer Scout Post at Beulah Presbyterian Church. In the summer of 1966, we were driven to Caledonia State Park and from their hiked the AT north. I made a short detour to revisit Camp Michaux on our way to the Camp Grounds at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.
"The Ash Grove" is everyone's favorite camp but its meaning only becomes clear with age. I still recall fond memories of these mountains and the friendships they once nurtured. So, forty years later in 2001, I made an attempt to go back to the past in spite of Thomas Wolfe's admonition that "You Can't Go Home Again." After all those years, I was still able to find this place. We exchanged e-mail addresses with a hiker on the AT near the camp and she contacted a friend who sent me a copy of the ACHS article about the POW camp.
In May of 2002, I returned to the camp for a Cumberland Co. Historical Walking Tour of the camp. Much of this page is based on the information gathered on that walk. While I was at the park office, I obtained a copy of “A History of Camp Michaux” by M.S. Reifsnyder. (View in HTML format or download as Microsoft Word Rich Text with other information.) I have converted a Site Survey Summery Sheet from a hazardous waste site clean up document that gives a detailed history of the POW camp. I recently received another “A History of Camp Michaux” buy Helen Louise McAdoo. (see note from her brother) As with any research project, you find more questions than answers so I need to go back in the winter when the leaves are off the trees and make some accurate measurements!
I just could not stay away and returned again for the 2003 walk. It rained the day before and by the end of the walk we were all cold and wet! But I did get a lot of detailed pictures with my new digital camera which I will be glad to share with you on a CD. Because of the weather, I didn't fulfill my prime objectives to hike up to "Vesper Hill" and back the lower service road to see the remains of the camp buildings. Perhaps next year...
In June, 2003, my wife and I traveled to Europe. While on our cruse of the Rhine River, we met a German gentleman who's U-boat crew was captured off France and he was interred at a camp near Tampa Bay. His captain was also interned in the US but he did not know where...
On our way to a short vacation in the Poconos in July, we planed our route to visit the UCC Hartman Conference Center in Milroy, PA. In the living room of the Michaux Lodge are four POW paintings from Camp Michaux. The camp director, Rev. Bruce Druckenmiller, assisted me in taking digital photographs of the paintings which are displayed below. We returned on the picturesque US Route 6 to see the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, in Potter County we visited the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. At the visitors center, they have an extensive display celebrating the history of the CCC camps in Pennsylvania.
In June of 2004, I attended the first "reunion" of former staff and campers and was able to make copies of their extensive collection of photographs which are available on my CD. We also met with Lisa John, a park ranger, who has an interesting collection of pictures and is planning a brochure and interpretive walking trail if the forest service will give her permission.
November 2006 was cool and damp but when the leaves have fallen is the best time to see the camp so I had to go back for yet another camp walk and finally found the remains of Vesper Hill! I've put that information on another page - 2006 Camp Walking Tour Pictures
While researching the camp, I ran across several references to Kings Gap. I had briefly looked at their Web site but did not study it in depth until I was contacted by their new archivist. The place seemed like an interesting place to visit and there is speculation that several of the highest priority POWs from Camp Pine Grove might have been housed there but no evidence to support the claim. It appears that it was still in private hands during the war. In July of 2007, my wife and I visited the Kings Gap Environmental Education and Training Center. The front porch of the mansion offers a spectacular view of the Cumberland Valley.
For some strange reason, I drove four hours in the rain to attend the 2009 camp walk. The rain stopped as we entered the camp ground and the sun came out for the afternoon walk. It seemed as though every walker had a different interest in the camp. Several complained that it took too much ink to print out this page before they came! :-)
If your Web wanderings have lead you here, please add your memories via e-mail !
Let me know if I can publish your name and e-mail address.
With around 200 hits/month from all over the world, I should be getting more mail!
Thanks to all the people who have found this page and have e-mailed me pictures and information from their collections. If you have e-mailed me and changed your address, please let me know.
--- Lee Schaeffer - Home Page - E-mail
P.S. I also spent many weeks at BSA Camp Seph Mack from 54-62 as a camper and as staff teaching Pioneering, Map Reading rowing (which later saved my life) and Morse Code. I also attended the National Jamborees in 1957 at Valley Forge, PA and 1960 at Silver Springs, CO - but that's all for another page! As an Explorer Post leader, I brought a group of scouts through the camp in 1966 while hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Maybe Wolfe was right!
The white clearing on the 2002 NGS
topo map is the site of the camp. Michaux Road is the main
road running N/S. The Upper, Main and Lower Service roads are have
gates off Michaux Road and are easy to find. The red dashed line
is the Appalachian Trail.
GPS Coordinates to locations within the camp
MAPS, GPS and Arial Views
The older aerial images show the area
before it was totally overgrown. Google Earth is the best source for
The Appalachian Trail (AT) follows Michaux Road cuts across to Bunker Hill Road passing the old barn wall.Directions from Pine Grove State Park:
Landmarks on Michaux Road
Where the paved portion of Michaux Road ends about 100 yd. past Bunkerhill Road and the old stone barn parking lot, you will find a yellow metal gate on the left which is the entrance to the "Upper Service road." The yellow gate south of the Toms Run bridge is the "Lower Service Road."
Historical Resources and Links
Nice Blog & Pictures - PENNSYLVANIA ODDITIES
Secret Interrogation Camp
OLD PINE GROVE FURNACE - 1934
by Dave Smith
Camp Michaux Youth Fellowship
Military POW Camp Buildings - 2007
SITE SURVEY SUMMARY SHEET
Special thanks to Mr. David Smith for his
"Camp Walks" and other information from the
archives of the The
Cumberland County Historical Society
Photos By Others
A Short History
If you are in the area, visit Kings Gap State Park north of Camp Michaux. It has a wonderful view of the area from the summit of South Mountain. It was another area devoted to the manufacture of charcoal. "The camp at Huntsdale Pennsylvania, USA was on what is now the C H Masland estate - Kings Gap. The camps existence was kept relatively secret during the war, and there was little know about it by the locals. It was located in proximity to Camp Michaux, but was not a part of that base. The camp was primarily used to house high ranking prisoners in relative comfort, in order get information from them." Wikipedia
short History of the CCC
After the war in 1946, the Presbyterian, UCC and E&R churches converted the area into a summer camp. They removed some of the buildings, barracks, stockade and eventually added a swimming pool and pavilion.
What remains of the camp
North of the dining hall are the remains of the final swimming pool built in 1954. Above the pool, you can still find the paved floor of the "pavilion" and north west of that, under some bushes are "The Steps to Nowhere" and the upper parking lot which is now a bird banding sanctuary. Watch the poison ivy patch! It may be easier to find these from the upper service road.
On your visit, try to locate the
See Map Below
Map Keys used on this page
A few feet further up Michaux Road on the right, there is the "white blaze" where the AT cuts off from Michaux Road and cuts across to join Bunkerhill Road past the parking area. The foundations for one of the guard towers can be seen at this corner.
Between the upper and lower gates and
set back off the camp side of Michaux road is a commemorative marker for
the first CCC Camp S-51 329 Co. in Pennsylvania. "S"
designates the camp is in a state forest.
Many of the buildings were sold for their lumber when the church camp closed. The Infirmary was moved to another camp in the area. Cross the bridge, at the dam pictured below, to the Lower Service Road. Follow the LSR a few hundred yards to the right (west) to locate the piles of lumber that are the remains of the camp buildings. Turning turn left (east) on the LSD takes you to the Old Swimming Pool, Dam and Raceway You can also access the Lower Service Road at the yellow gate off Michaux Road south of the main camp entrance.
Grove - CCC Camp
Very Early Pictures of the CCC Camp - 1933
Finished CCC Camp in 1939
CCC Camp Photo
Film footage from
Pennsylvania CCC camps that includes the Pine Grove Furnace Camp
S-51-PA is now available online at the
of CCC Camp by Kenneth Pyles
Photographs of CCC Camp scanned from negatives at the PGF Park Office in June, 2004.
Transition form CCC Camp to POW Camp
Camp Pine Grove -
1945 DCNR Map showing
the barracks added for the Japenese prisoners
POW Camp photographs scanned from pictures and negatives at the PGF Park Office in June, 2004.
Four of the paintings
done by POWs on the barrack walls still survive in the new Michaux
Lodge at the
Two Backhaus views of the same area of the camp
1947 - 1972
Church Camp Map
Church Camp Photos
"I found your site after talking to Bruce Druckenmiller at
Center. I believe you have seen the
Church Camp Postcards
The following cards
are from a third set with a different style of captioning.
pictures below are from my faded 1959-61 slides.
Located on the north side of the main camp road about 150' from the entrance gate. It seems to have been constructed at the end of the POW era since it lists the date the POW camp was closed and contains the emblem of "The Third Service Corps" which ran the camp. The squares may have been just decoration or once contained other emblems that have been removed.
The marker is now one of the few identifiable
remnants. Note that the shrubs are now trees and the
marker has sunken into the ground! In a few years it to will
probably be totally overgrown.
Showing construction details of the barracks. Choir practice was held here and the director taught us to sing "Let Us Break Bread Together" as 'When I fall on my face with my knees to the rising sun' - which is impossible to unlearn! Due to decay, the Chapel was torn down about 1970 and their are no remains.
Looking south towards dinning hall. The Chapel was one of the CCC
and POW barracks but had new siding and entrance added. The
height of the trees can help establish the relative dates of pictures of
The diving board mounts at the end of the swimming pool that is now a swampy pond. It is one of the largest remaining features but the hardest to find! The remains of the pump and filters can be found under the pool deck.
The "Pavilion" and "The Steps to Nowhere" are out of the picture to the left. The chapel is the building in the right background. Pool was completed in 1954.
A 2009 "walker" says that he
checked the direction and it is dead on to true north. Magnetic
compasses have a 10 deg. declination at the camp.
If you stand at the fountain and walk up into the clearing to the NW (see picture above), you can still find the "star" down the hill from the flag poll. There is a small hole in the center of the star but not big enough for a flag pole. No one know what it was for. Walk to the west to find the footers for the upper barracks. Past the barracks, the pool is down the hill. Up the hill is the "Pavilion" floor, the "Steps to Nowhere" and the Upper Service road.
Looking north-west from main road. You can still locate the remains of three guard towers which will be four concrete blocks about 8' apart. One is located near the fountain and the other further up the hill near the service road.
The steps where the group photos were taken can be found between the Pavilion floor and the Upper Service Road. They are so overgrown that they are easy to miss. The are just below the sign for the sign for the NWRF nursery north of the upper service road..
The wall still stands but was completely hidden by massive pine trees for many years! The area was cleared by the PA DCNR in the spring of 2011 It is located just north of the AT as it cuts across from Michaux Road to Bunkerhill Road.
In 2009 the scrub has been cleared out and the trees trimmed but the wall is cracking and in danger of collapse. The cleared area is rapidly being overgrown again.
The chimney is connected to the old metal stove shown in the foreground of the adjacent picture. Remains of the concrete basketball court can be found behind the Recreation Center.
Here on the walls were displayed the best examples of the POW artwork. They were originally painted on the fiber board walls of the barracks and were removed and framed. Many were landscapes from Germany but some were of American subjects. The CCHS has acquired five of these paintings.
you have any pictures?
They say it takes a minute to find a special person,
An hour to appreciate them,
a day to love them,
and then an entire life to forget them.
Presbyterian State Wide Youth Leadership Conference 1961 Aug 2-27?
(Wrong dates since it was only a one week camp.)
This is my camp picture the last year I was there.
I'll be glad to e-mail you a CD with all the group pictures I have collected.
If you have any group shots, please scan them and send them to me.
The brochure was reproduced from a copy that was sent to me by J. G. - Oct 2003
Camp Michaux Reunion
Hosted by: Gary Fisher (Squirrel) LFisherGary@aol.com
Also present was Lisa
John, who at the time was a state park ranger working on a brochure and
walking trail of the camp.
"Just to let you know Lee I will
soon be sending you a bunch of group pictures from when I was a camper
in the 60's and a staff person in '71 & '72. I absolutely
love your site...thanks so much for keeping Camp Michaux alive!"
I was a camper there in the middle Sixties, I am thinking 1965 or 66, staying in the barracks up the hill and then a two or three years later ( 67 or 68) in the "pioneer" area under canvas. I don't remember a lot of details about the barracks, other than being fascinated by some of the names and such carved into the superstructure of the building, eating in the mess hall, with as some else mentioned, the "bottomless" milk dispensers. I also remember one craft in particular, where we embedded flowers in what I guess was an acrylic plastic of some sort in a paper tray. I too remember the singing, vespers, and preparing small gathering areas in the woods, complete with rock lined walkways and dirt swept clean by tree branches. The Pioneer camping was different. I remember the names of two of the young adults that were our chaperones, Bill Metzger and girl named Connie. That year we dug a pit and roasted a whole suckling pig for the meal on Thursday, if memory serves me correctly. I also remember our band of campers walking through the woods one day and an individual stepped on a downed tree trunk instead of over it and stirred up a huge air force of hornets which promptly attacked everyone in our group. Then came the walk back to the infirmary with numerous stings, all of us "hurting puppies".
It's a darn shame that the Churches let this site go. I've been to the Hartman Center and occasionally pass by there on trips to northern PA. It didn't have half the character that Michaux had. I will make it back to Michaux before I die just to see what I can recognize and remember. I do have a question. I remember a rectangular one story building, east of camp cover in tar paper with a couple of windows and a door next to a gravel road. That interesting thing was that someone had used a stencil of a "playboy" bunny head and painted a white "bunny" next to the door. Does anyone remember ever seeing such a thing in their travels around camp?
To answer this question, the barrack was named "Trail
Lodge", it housed the male staff. It was located in front of the
old barn wall along the AT. The life guards, and work crew stayed
there. In the center of the barrack was the "common" room,
with single crew quarters off both sides.
-- Gary Fisher, staff 68, 69
Your surmise about the picture of the "old swimming hole" is correct. As I recall, the churches enlarged the pool, put in a sand bottom, sluiceways to channel in the water, concrete walls and a diving board sometime in the very early 1950's. The sluiceways formed a "Y" with Tom's Run about 100 yards upstream from the pool. One sluice channeled the Run and emptied back in to the stream bed below the spillway of the dam. The other sluice entered the pool at the side opposite the dam up toward the road. There were slots in the walls of the base of the "Y" so boards could be put in to control how much water went up each arm .You can see these sluices in the photo of the "new' pool.
I can remember going to Michaux with my Dad when he was director of camping for the Mercersburg Synod of the E & R church in the late 40's and early 50's. I seem to recall the old pool . By the time I was a camper in 1953, I believe we used the "new" pool. This is all from memory which is subject to failure as I get older but those are my impressions. There might be a way to check all this out. At the time, capital improvements to Michaux were not part of the operating budget for the camp and were paid for by the judicatories involved. If the records still exist, they might be found by contacting either the Carlisle Presbytery or Penn Central Conference of the UCC (at that time Mercersburg Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church) to see if they have any record of capital expenditures in that time period.
I don't recall the pump house in the location it appears in the postcard picture. There was a pump house to the left of the "new" pool as you faced it from the dining hall. It was between the pool and the incinerator and new office building. As far as I can remember, it had an inlet in the pool and was used only for pumping water through the fire fighting system. The building housed a pump with a 6 cylinder car motor that I can remember Bill Hockley firing up when we did fire drills. We accused him of goosing the pressure up on the pump to see how many of us crew members he could knock over as we held the fire hose. By the way, we used to enjoy those fire drills as it gave us a chance to take the old fire engine out for a spin. Sometimes we got halfway to Caledonia since we wanted to make sure the battery got a good charge. And of course we had to make sure the siren still worked.
About the water supply, you are correct about it being
at the upper dam on Tom's Creek. When I was there, there was an intake
structure on the left hand side of the creek as you face the dam about
30 or 40 feet upstream from the dam. As I recall it, it was just a
square concrete box about 2 or 3 feet on a side with openings in it to
let the water in. I don't know when it was built. As I said, I don't
remember where the pump house was since I was not involved with that
part of the operation of the camp but I do remember the intake. It is
quite possible the water supply pump was in the building with the fire
pump and I just didn't pay any attention to it. As far as the tanks
go, at the time I was working there from 1958 to 1970 there was only
one water tank that I know of. It was located on the uphill side of
I still enjoy visiting your web site to see if there
is anything newt. Thank you for taking on this labor of love.
You've brought back a part of my
past. Bless you.
Other Information About the Camp
E-mail from GLZ at Michaux State Forest office:
A SHORT HISTORY OF CAMP MICHAUX
Other Articles and Publications
From "Prisoner of War Camp at Gettysburg" Gettysburg Discussion Group
POW pays nostalgic visit
POWs In Westminster"
Open house at Pine
Grove Park recalls days as CCC and POW camps
German Prisoners of World War 2 - English version
News Updates From Dave Smith
Hi all, April 2, 2016
Great work day yesterday. The weather cooperated and Diane and Bob, Art, Andre and I got a number of things done - although I spent five hours giving tours to a group of 15 and another group of 31. The following was accomplished:
Two sites continue to need work if time permits over the next few weeks including the German Mess Hall and the Commander's Office/Home. They only need re-clearing (loppers and hedge trimmers). Keeping up with the re-growth makes the job easier each Spring.
Thanks to those who volunteered yesterday.
March 11, 2016 Hi Gang,
Report about April 4 & 11 Work days -
I made my annual Spring inspection tour of Camp Michaux today. Basically, the trials are in good shape. There is very little clean-up needed to get them back in shape. Some work is needed on individual sites where regrowth of barbary and other invasive plants are obscuring the sites....
March 26, 2014
On Tuesday a group of leaders from a variety of state agencies met at the camp to discuss the state's intention to breach the two dams on the Tom's Run in the future. Both dams were examined carefully (in the snow) and the historic significance of each was discussed. The environmental leaders attending the visit believed it was possible to minimally disturb historic features and still restore stream flow to normal. This will be dependent on engineering assessments that will need to be done in the next year or so and the associated costs. These assessments will look at optional ways to accomplish the environmental goals while still being sensitive to the history of the area.
March 15, 3014
I went up to the camp today and found it in amazingly good shape considering the winter we just went through (and I guess are still going through). We shouldn't have a lot of work to do to get it back in shape - we may not need four work days this year. I would like to open a short new trail from the main trail to the west end of the "old" swimming area. There are some interesting concrete features there that would be good to access, however it will involve some chain saw work to remove fallen trees and to get through some significant barbary growth. There is also a tree that needs to be taken down at the "new" swimming pool. Let me know when you will be available, particularly those of you with chain saws, so we can determine which of the Saturdays in April we should work.
Discussions are ongoing regarding the use of goats and removing the dams. I will be attending two meetings the end of the month regarding this. During my visit today I noted that the lower dam is no longer functioning at all. Tom's Run has cut its own channel using the bypass channel erected by the church camp in 1946. Water no longer flows into the pond. I don't know if this will have any effect on the discussions regarding the dams or not. I'll keep you informed.
Dear Friends of Camp Michaux, April 27, 2013 work day
Yesterday was a perfect day for working at Camp Michaux. Pat and Carl Leinbach, Vince Montano and I worked on reclearing and then expanding the cleared area at the Forestry Office/Interrogation Building/Michaux Lodge site. The work yesterday underscored the need to address the issues of invasive species and control of them with chemicals. I will discuss this issue further with Roy Brubaker, District Forester.
Issues with minor vandalism to the marker posts continue. Two of the posts locate close to each other had been switched, and one of the new posts installed at the beginning of the month was turned upside down. We didn't reinstall the directional post removed (but found) earlier this spring. It is apparently necessary to use concrete in some of the post holes. I will try to do that this week.
Thanks to all who helped this year. Vince and I toured the camp in the afternoon and identified potential sites for next year's work.
Have a great summer.
April 20, 2012
Smith's Poster about the camp
Professor Maria Bruno
had the archeology students work in three groups. One group mapped an
area on the south of the camp
looking for evidence of native American use of the area. In
particular the students were looking for rhyolite
(used for tool making). Retired geology professor Noel
Potter accompanied the group. No specific rhyolite finds were made,
but the students encountered and mapped two charcoal
hearths. The second group focused on the middle of the camp
in the area between the main mess hall and the German POW
mess hall. Several items were found on the surface. The third
group focused on the farm area on the east end of the camp. A variety
of surface finds were located, photographed,
and removed for cataloging.
April 13 Weekend
Thanks to Josh, Pat, Paul, Andre, Gary, VInce and Dan for joining me today for a great work day at Camp Michaux. We accomplished extensive additional clearing at the farm house. You can almost picture the building that once stood there. In the afternoon Gary, Vince and Josh cleared the old CCC gas pumping station for the first time. We knew where it was, but getting to it was quite difficult. Having it cleared adds one more location to view. I had six people on my 1:00 tour of the camp.
Looking ahead to next week, the archeology class will be there, so if you want to see archeology in action, come out between 8:30 and 12:30. Any of you who can come to work, we will select a site away from where the students are working and do additional clearing.
The wooden post with a directional arrow near the farmhouse has again been removed. This time we couldn't locate it and the person who removed it carefully disguised the post hole after removing the post. I hope this is the full extent of the vandalism although I found several posts had been realigned so it would be difficult for people following the self-guided tour to locate them.
On a final note, I revised the walking tour guidebook this week. I hope to have it posted on line at the CCHS website this coming week. The revised version corrects information in the original that needed changing based on evidence located since 2011 and includes the new optional trail to the water tanks.
April 6 Weekend
Josh Capp and I were a small but effective work crew yesterday at Camp Michaux. We installed three new post markers along the extension of the trail to the water tanks, cleared the steps near the CCC Education Building, and cleared an area to the west of the farm house in hopes of locating a well, cistern or outhouse. We didn't locate any of those features but did uncover a stone and concrete path. Also found were a horse shoe and the broken top of a 19th century bottle. I will be updating the walking tour book that is posted on line so that those interested can access the new section of trail.
While walking around the camp we found our first evidence of vandalism. Those of you familiar with the posts installed two years ago know that in addition to the 27 numbered posts (now 30), there were three posts with arrow markers indicating a change in direction of the trail. We found two of those three posts had been removed. Josh spotted one of them along the side of the trail and we reinstalled it. The other one near the German prisoner's mess hall was not found. Fortunately, all the other posts are still in place.
March 10, 2012
I did a walk through the camp this morning and am
happy to report that the Michaux State Forest staff has been busy again
at the camp. The deteriorating CCC sign has been either fully restored
or replaced and a protective roof placed over it. A similar protective
roof now covers the Camp Michaux sign as well. A new sign designates the
barn wall and protective coverings have been placed over the two signs
giving credit to the South Mountain partnership. Thank you Roy and crew.
National Register - the nomination for the National Register was returned with a long list of required changes. I plan to continue to work on it over the coming months, but since there is no deadline, and the changes require additional research and an entire new set of photographs and maps, I am going to approach it more slowly than I did the first submission.
John Bland - the
author of The Secret War at Home... has moved to Texas. Before
leaving, he turned all his files over to the Historical Society. I
am now continuing his work to enter all the names of the prisoners in a
database. The list now contains 4000 names up to the end of
October 1944. That leaves the remainder of 1944 to complete and
all of 1945. As with the nomination, I will work on it a slow
pace. CCC sign - the official
CCC sign at the camp is deteriorating. I am trying to find out who
is responsible for the sign. I am hoping it can be repaired.
If any of you have any ideas regarding who may be the appropriate
contact regarding this, let me know.
March 18, 2011
April 16, 2011 - Hi Friends
of Camp Michaux,
April 25, 2011 - Hi Friends
of Camp Michaux,
Thanks again for everyone's help. David Smith
David L. Smith
Grove Furnace State Park
The Pine Grove Furnace Camp Store is a welcome retreat at the midway point of the AT to rest and dine. Six to ten people each week complete the challenge -- to eat a half gallon of Hershey Ice Cream at one sitting! Stop here for lunch on the porch when you visit the area. We had only two scoops of Moose Tracks
The Furnace at Pine Grove is one of the best preserved in the state. The furnaces to the south such as those in Caledonia State Park were destroyed by Gen. Early's Confederate troops as they marched on Gettysburg. Also see the Cornwall Iron Furnace
In 1764, George Stevenson, Robert Thornburgh, and John Arthur built the first iron furnace at Pine Grove, which they enlarged in 1770. The furnace manufactured cast iron products like, ten plate stoves, fireplace backs and iron kettles. In 1782, Michael Ege purchased the furnace, iron mine, mill and mill house. By his death in 1803, Michael was the sole owner of the Pine Grove ironworks and two other ironworks in the area.
His son, Peter, became the Pine Grove Furnace iron master and from 1827 to 1829 built a stately brick English Tudor mansion, currently the A.Y.H. Hostel. In 1830, Peter added Laurel Forge to the ironworks. With six fires, runouts and trip hammer, Laurel Forge could produce 2,000 net tons of blooms a year. Laurel Forge reheated and hammered the cast iron ingots from Pine Grove Furnace to produce wrought iron, a product that could be bent in many shapes.
The financial panic of 1837 bankrupted tens of thousands of Americans including Peter Ege. At a sheriff’s sale the following year, 37-year old Frederick Watts, later to be known as the father of Pennsylvania State University, and his partner, Charles B. Penrose, purchased Pine Grove Iron Works for $52,000.
In 1864, the ironworks changed to a corporation. A group of investors formed the South Mountain Iron Company and brought in Jackson C. Fuller as the furnace manager. The new iron company also began construction of the South Mountain Railroad to bring raw materials to the furnace and move its iron products to market.
Jackson was a life long friend of the chief investor, Jay Cooke, who is credited with almost single handedly financing the Union’s efforts in the Civil War with the concept of selling war bonds to the public. Jay Cooke found himself deep in debt and went bankrupt, causing the financial panic of 1873. It took the federal government nine years to recover from Cooke’s financial failure.
In 1877, through his friend Jackson, Jay Cooke bought back the ironworks portion of the old company at sheriff’s sale under the newly created corporation called the South Mountain Mining and Iron Company. The Cumberland Valley Railroad bought the other half of the old South Mountain Railroad. Throughout the winter of 1878, the iron furnace went through a total renovation raising the stack to 36 feet with closed bell and hopper on top, a steam hoist to raise raw material to the top of the new stack and three tuyeres to force air into the furnace with the new steam blowing engine which replaced the old blowing tubs.
These innovations allowed the furnace to operate on fuels other than charcoal, which was becoming harder to secure due to constant harvesting of the forests. Now the furnace could be operated on coke and when that was low, anthracite coal could be mixed with the coke. Charcoal would remain the primary fuel of the furnace, but the furnace would no longer have to shutdown when charcoal supplies were exhausted. 1883 marked the peak production year for the furnace, producing 6,000 net tons of cast iron annually, but new technologies quickly put small iron producers out of business.
Pine Grove Furnace went out of blast for the final time in 1895, ending 131 years of iron making in South Mountain.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park
In 1913, the South Mountain Mining and Iron Company sold the ironworks, encompassing 17,000 acres, to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be part of the new Forest Reserve system. Much of the land became Michaux State Forest, but part became Pine Grove Furnace State Park.
Some of the historic buildings dating back to the charcoal iron community still stand and include the furnace, ironmaster’s mansion, clerks office, stable, grist mill (now the Visitor Center), the inn (now the park office) and several residences. Remnants of raceways, charcoal hearths and related man-made features are still discernible.
Fuller Lake was the major ore quarry for Pine Grove Furnace. The quarry filled with groundwater when mining ceased. Laurel Lake once supplied water power to Laurel Forge.
In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established Camp S-51. The CCC boys built roads, trails and facilities until 1941.
In 1977, Pine Grove Furnace was entered in the National Register of Historical Places.