Cumberland Valley History

Cumberland Valley's long history helped shape the towns and villages into what they are today. Get a little insight on the places you are visiting by browsing our history timeline, beginning with significant events and happenings from the French and Indian War through World War II.

Military - From the establishment of Carlisle Barracks in 1757, the New Cumberland Army Depot (WWI), and the Naval Supply Depot (WWII), the military has played an integral part of life in the Cumberland Valley, and continues to do so. Learn more about our history by visiting the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.


French trader James LeTort arrives to establish a trading post along what is now known as LeTort Spring Run. This fly-fishing haven flows through the present-day borough of Carlisle, the county seat established in 1751.


French & Indian War: With new trade routes and control of Ohio Country at stake, the Cumberland Valley is caught in the middle.


The Carlisle Iron Works Furnace is built and begins operation. Cannons made here are used during the American Revolution.

August 5, 1763

Pontiac's Rebellion: Colonel Henry Bouquet leads a group of Carlisle men to assist in raids against Native Americans.


American Revolutionary War: Cumberland Valley contributes supplies, food, weapons and soldiers to the fight for independence. Carlisle Barracks, the second-oldest Army post in the U.S., becomes a supply headquarters.

August 2, 1776

Cumberland County attorneys - George Ross, James Smith and James Wilson - sign the Declaration of Independence at the First Presbyterian Church.

June 28, 1778

Molly Ludwig Hays McCauley joins the war effort with her husband, William Hays, and earns the nickname "Molly Pitcher" by running pitchers of water to members of the Continental Army during the Battle of Monmouth.


Whiskey Rebellion: October 1794 - General George Washington and 14,000 militiamen meet at the Carlisle Barracks on their way to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion.


Civil War: Confederate forces move through the Valley on their way to Harrisburg, fighting against the Union in Carlisle, Shippensburg and Mechanicsburg. One of the columns at the Old Courthouse in Carlisle bears marks caused by Confederate artillery fire.


Free African-American soldiers quickly erect Fort Couch in Lemoyne to help defend Carlisle from a Confederate raid into Pennsylvania.

June 27, 1863

General Albert Jenkins leads his Confederate troops through Mechanicsburg, the northernmost town seized by Confederate forces during the war.


World War I: The Defense Distribution Center, built in New Cumberland, is recognized at the time as the largest facility of its kind operated by the U.S. Department of Defense. It is currently used for consolidated management and logistics.


World War II: The Naval Support Station in Mechanicsburg is established, June 17, 1943, as an inland supply depot for the U.S. Navy, and remains an important Navy and defense supply facility.