Pine Grove Park

Pine Grove Park Railroad Poster

Like the lines associated with the CVRR, the South Mountain Railroad attempted to recoup business lost as a result of the demise of the iron industry by promoting passenger excursions.  In 1913, the former site of Pine Grove Furnace was purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania along with several acres adjacent to the blast furnace for use as a state park.  The land was reclaimed and allowed to be reforested.  Quarry pits and the former water supply lake were transformed into ideal boating and swimming facilities.

Once again, the line was heavily trafficked.  Still, in 1928, the Reading Railroad Company considered a plan to discontinue service to Pine Grove.  Careful consideration of the profitability of the line combined with the impassioned pleas of local people caused the Reading to reconsider.

Woman's Plea Saves R. R. For Pine Grove

Newspaper article from the Carlisle Sentinel on March 28, 1928. Courtesy of the Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA.

Carpenter Squad of Pittsburgh Boys

CCC participants at Pine Grove Furnace in May 1933. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commision.  

In the 1930s, land near Pine Grove Furnace became a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp as part of the New Deal programs to combat the Great Depression.  The men at CCC Camp 51 built their own barracks and worked to convert old railroad lines to hiking trails. They built roads and retaining walls and undertook projects meant to reduce the chances of uncontrolled forest fires.  Men from the CCC Camp at Pine Grove Furnace also studied under the direction of tutors from nearby Shippensburg State Normal School.

During World War II, the CCC barracks were transformed into a top-secret prisoner of war interrogation camp.  The facility, called Camp Michaux, held German prisoners of war captured in the North African theater as well as Japanese officers.

Pine Grove Furnace Today

Although iron mining and production have long since left the region, the blast furnace remains as a reminder of the region’s industrial heritage.

Pine Grove Furnace State Park continues to offer many historical and natural attractions.  The heritage village includes the old furnace, the Appalachian Trail Museum which is located in the former plantation’s stone gristmill, a country store, the Ironmaster's Mansion, now a hostel for hikers, and other buildings.  The park contains miles of hiking and biking trails, including a section of the Appalachian Trail.  Boaters and swimmers can luxuriate in Fuller and Laurel lakes.