Pennsylvania's State Parks and Forests: Looking Back to Move Ahead
Exploring Our Conservation Legacy


Greenwood Lake - Clear and Crisp
Photo by Steve Rubano

Making (and Telling) History


As we get ready for another relaxing, yet busy, summer in the state parks and forests, here at the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation we're continuing our look at how Pennsylvanians spend their leisure time has changed over the years. And, frankly, how much it's stayed the same! Check out the summer issue of our print newsletter, Penn's Stewards, for a glimpse at Recreation: Then and Now. The newsletter will be posted to our website in the next couple of weeks so you'll have another reason to drop by the Publications page and see what's happening!

"Then and now" is also very much the theme of the snippets below. The winner of this year's President's Award from the Foundation was the Greenwood Furnace State Park Complex - Greenwood Furnace, Penn-Roosevelt, and Whipple Dam State Parks. The past is palpable at these three parks, and the staff's determination to honor their place in Pennsylvania history was a key reason for their award.

Come along with us on a stroll through the past - and across the galaxy!

~ Pam Metzger, Membership Coordinator
Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation


Explore Pennsylvania's Parks & Forests


Greenwood State Park Complex 

When more than one state park is under the supervision of one park manager and his or her staff, the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources calls it a "complex."

The Greenwood Furnace Complex consists of three CCC era parks (Greenwood Furnace, Whipple Dam, and Penn-Roosevelt) making it a microcosm of the stewardship and legacy values the Foundation and DCNR seek to promote. At 720 acres total - and surrounded by the 80,000 acres of the Rothrock State Forest - these scenic parks capture the feel of a time past, with their historic structures, tall timber, and rustic feel.

Evidence of the care given by the crew to the parks abound - from the glistening Greenwood Lake beach waiting for arrivals to the newly created warming hut for keeping cold weather outdoor enthusiasts safe and warm. At Penn Roosevelt there was a beautiful CCC-era pavilion in danger of imminent collapse. Undeterred, the crew pulled the building back to level and installed new local oversized spruce post beams to support the structure properly while maintaining the CCC character. A rustic camping park, the team experimented with tent platforms to improve the camping experience. (See the February 2015 issue of Explore.

Crew and volunteers at Greenwood Furnace Complex understand that the visitor experience doesn’t stop at the park boundary. Working in cooperation with the Rothrock State Forest, they are establishing trails that connect the parks to the forest, enabling hikers to find a varied trail system suitable to all enthusiasm levels. After taking a trail workshop, they immediately put their new skills to work reducing soil erosion and relocating trails. 

The park has a great relationship with their very active Friends of Greenwood Furnace who cut and sell firewood for the park, financially support the park, and actively support and participate in Old Home Days, The Summer Folk Gathering, Concerts at Whipple Dam and the annual Winter Festival.

The perfect place for a picnic, no?

The perfect spot for a picnic, no?

Explore Volunteerism

Education Keeping the Dark Skies Dark

The winner of the Foundation's Education Award this year is Pam Karhan, volunteer at Cherry Springs State Park.

Pam is one dedicated lady. She's been a member of the Dark Sky Team at Cherry Springs since 2005 from the earliest days with the original Stars-n-Parks program provided by the National Public Observatory right through the last 11 years. Visitors to Cherry Springs' dark skies will nearly always find Pam focusing a telescope, guiding new and budding astronomers through the galaxies and constellations overhead. While working full-time at Hills Creek State Park, Pam nevertheless volunteers over 100 hours a year across the PA Wilds at Cherry Springs, arriving early for set-up and staying past a program's end to make sure everyone's questions are answered and each has had a chance to see the spectacular views afforded by the darkest skies east of the Mississippi.

The excellent quality of the astronomy programming that is offered to the thousands who visit Cherry Springs each year is due in great part to Pam's contributions.

Want to meet this stellar volunteer to the stellar skies? Pay a visit to a public viewing night at the park!

Explore the Legacy

Tally Me An Ace

Put a little ginger in it. That was a real daisy cutter. Striker to the Line!

For the past several years, your pleasant spring afternoon at Greenwood Furnace State Park might have been interrupted by similar cries echoing in the background. A curious park visitor might stroll over to the grassy field near Pavilion #1 to find what would appear to be a pick-up baseball game taking place. But your eyes do not deceive you, that left fielder did catch the ball on a bounce – barehanded – and the striker (batter) was declared man dead by the judge. You notice that balls are slightly larger and stitched differently, and the bat is longer and square cut on the end. And what’s up with the next runner ringing a bell and announcing Tally me an Ace after crossing home plate?

This is "vintage base ball," an event hosted and promoted each year for the past six by the hard-working students of Penn State's Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Management Events Planning class. And yes, base ball was two words in the game’s early years. Called All Ball, No Glove this year, the event invites young and old alike to come out and discover how America's Pastime developed over the years. Without the need for a lot of expensive equipment or an elaborate playing field, a baseball, a bat, and any open field meant that anyone could play. You weren't just a crank (spectator) on the sidelines. The game became ingrained in American society unlike any other sport. Before television, cell phones, and video games, this is how kids entertained themselves – passing the time!

Greenwood Furnace Cultural Educator Paul Fagley, who acts as judge (umpire) for the games, says, "We play by the rules and customs of the late 1860s, just before the first professional teams. One big difference people notice is that the vintage game plays faster and more dynamically than today’s game. And to add to the fun, the terminology of the era is different. All of this combines in a way that makes the game different, yet still recognizable as base ball."

While this year's event was marked by unseasonably cold weather and even a little snow, 42 participants were undeterred in their enjoyment of the game as it was originally played. The cold might even have encouraged the muffins to stir their stumps in their base-running!

The teams are picked; we're ready to play. Yes, that's snow you see.

Keep an eye on the park's calendar of events next spring for your chance to tally an ace!


The men who worked at Greenwood Furnace in the late 19th century had their own base ball team. Called the Energetics, they were known as a hard-hitting squad. Click the photo for a larger version.

Explore Campfire Recipes

Flaxseed and Chia Seed Pancakes with Bacon

This energy-packed gourmet breakfast comes from the pages of Bon Apetit. Boasting whole grains, high protein chia seeds, and the bacon everyone seems to believe is a required ingredient for anything, this little bit make-ahead, little bit cook on site recipe provides a delicious eye-opener any time of day.

Now your author may be a bit biased but a nice jar of Somerset County maple syrup is required to do the dish justice!

Explore Trivia

We were hooked on fish in the last issue! Recall that we asked in what year rainbow trout were first "planted" in the Susquehanna River. Diligent researchers found themselves on the Fish & Boat Commission's website where a chronology and history reveals that the first recorded stocking of rainbow trout took place in 1888. 

By the way, we've included a comprehensive environmental timeline on the website for the Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage project as well. The website is undergoing a massive reconstruction and the timeline is expected to take on an exciting new look in the very near future!

Congratulations to Turbotville Jill, who'll be receiving her wearable checklist to the state parks and forests very soon.

For June, name at least five CCC-era parks (aside from Greenwood Furnace Complex).

Send your answer to Pam Metzger at the Foundation. All correct answers will be entered into a drawing for another of our "wearable checklists" - otherwise known as our new bright orange bandana!

Explore Healthy Living

Light on the Screen, Heavy on the Outdoors

The average American child spends 40 hours a week in front of some kind of screen, spending more time using electronics than anything other than sleep. That’s a whole lot more than what the American Association of Pediatrics recommends for healthy development, which is a maximum of 1-2 hours daily in front of any screen for children over age two, and none for children under two.

With school-free summer days, it seems a daunting task to find something else for kids to do with their time - let the Foundation help. We will be doing an online summer campaign to get kids outdoors, away from the screen. (And, yes, we do realize the contradiction in this!) Check our Facebook page frequently for ideas, events, and contests to get the whole family outside.

Banishing the screen altogether is not necessarily realistic, but limiting the amount of time is the right idea. Here are some ideas to help everyone limit the screen time, without too much of a fight.

Have a plan. Set a daily outdoor activity. This can include simple ideas like going for a walk or bike ride after dinner.

Make a day of it and visit your local park or your state parks and forests for picnics, swimming, or hiking.

Use your Pennsylvania's State Parks and State Forests Passport and get it stamped at every park and forest you visit. See how many stamps you can get by Labor Day. Don’t have a Passport? Get one!

Check in frequently with the DCNR Calendar of Events for things to do in a state park or forest near you.

Include outdoor activity in everyday tasks. Walk instead of driving whenever you can.

Try something new! Disc golf, dark sky viewing or geocaching.

Try something old! Fly a kite, play kickball or guess the cloud shapes.

Getting kids excited about being in the outdoors is the key. Involve them in the planning. They - and you - won’t even miss the screens!

Explore PPFF and our Programs

Do you - like us - shake your head in disbelief at the idea of graffiti-covered rocks and other treasures in our state forests and parks? The Foundation has located 37 "hot spots" for this damaging practice across the system and we need your help to remove it.

Change these Walls of Shame and place your name on our Wall of Honor. Every dollar you contribute removes one square foot of graffiti (an estimate 7,000 square feet alone on Michaux State Forest's Hammonds and Buzzards Rocks).

The actual work day at Hammonds and Buzzards Rocks had to be rescheduled from May 21 when the weather was too wet to give the paint removal chemicals an effective environment. The new date is June 18; and there's still room for you to help.

Back by popular demand - through June 6 ONLY. Our Get Out ... Side tees (women's, men's, long-sleeved) and hoodies.

Comfy and oh, so chic. Get yours before the window slams shut!

Explore comes to you courtesy of the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation
1845 Market Street | Suite 202 | Camp Hill, PA 17011 | 717.236.7644


Thank you to our friends at the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
for their assistance in the preparation of Explore.

The support of the Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2) of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is also gratefully acknowledged.
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