Each New Year I take time to reflect on where I've been, where I'm going and where I might be in the next decade. This annual exercise led me to think a little more about the past of Cumberland Valley, and where it's been, how quickly it changes and where we as a community may go. Below is an extremely short, partial list of history in the Valley - and how you might experience it today. With so much to explore, you'll need to check out our history section to see the full list!


1720's - James Letort was the first European settler in Cumberland County. He established a trading post at the headwaters of the LeTort Spring. Today, you can walk or bike along the LeTort Spring Run and Nature Trail.

1730's - The oldest American piece in the Fashion Archives and Museum is a pair of wedding shoes from 1737. Located on the grounds of Shippensburg University, the museum features changing exhibits.

1740's - Matthew Dill purchased what is today Dill's Tavern and Plantation. This impressive site is now open as an Interpretive & Educational Center. Visitors are encouraged to use the building and its period contents to experience tavern life in the 18th and 19th centuries.

1750's - The Carlisle Barracks was established in 1757, making it the second oldest Army post in the United States. It served a number of different purposes over the years, but it is now home of the Army War College.

1760's - The Carlisle Iron Works Furnace was built in 1760. The preserved furnace is located behind Children's Lake.


1770's - The Hessian Powder Magazine was built in 1777. Located on the grounds of the Carlisle Barracks, it has been preserved as a small museum that is open to the public.

1780's - Dickinson College was founded in 1783 by Benjamin Rush, and was the first college chartered in the new country. Today, the campus is full of students and visitors who attend The Trout Gallery, athletics, special events or just lounge in the signature red chairs.

1790's - In October 1794, General George Washington and 14,000 militiamen met at the Carlisle Barracks on their way to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion. During his visit, George Washington worshiped at the First Presbyterian Church.


1800's - Built in 1801, the Frankenberger Tavern was once popular with travelers on the Great Road West. Believed to be the oldest building in Mechanicsburg, the tavern is open for tours seasonally.

1810's - Take a walking tour of 18th Century Architecture to learn more about the historic buildings in the Valley.

1820's - Located in the heart of downtown Mechanicsburg, Union Church was built in 1825.

1830's - The Cumberland Valley Railroad was chartered in 1831 and at one point spanned Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Winchester, Virginia. Today, parts of the rail bed have been renovated into the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail.

1840's - The Old Courthouse was built in 1846. The columns still bear marks of the shelling of Carlisle during the Civil War. Upon request, visitors can tour the old courtroom which held pivotal Underground Railroad cases.

1850's - Daniel Kauffman, an abolitionist from Boiling Springs, was fined for $4,000 in 1852 for harboring slaves.

1860's - The Civil War played a large part in Cumberland Valley history. Check out our Civil War trip idea that includes All Things Civil War.

1870's - Dykeman Springs and neighboring park consist of historic buildings and home from the 1800's and was the site of a trout hatchery that opened in 1871. Today, visitors stop to feed the ducks, fish and walk the trails.

1880's - Union Fire Company No. 1 was organized in 1989. Known as the oldest, continuously operated volunteer company in the state of Pennsylvania, it now contains a museum.

1890's - The Pine Grove Iron Furnace operated through 1895. Today, visitors can visit the furnace inside Pine Grove Furnace State Park.


1900's - The first production Model T Ford was completed. Today, auto enthusiasts from around the world gather at the Carlisle Ford Nationals each summer.

1910's - The Carlisle Indian Industrial School closed in 1918. This controversial school was designed to offer academic and industrial training to American Indian children.

1920's - Swing dancing is commonly associated with the 1920's. Today, visitors can stop by the Green Door Dance Studio for weekly swing dancing classes and open dancing.

1930's - The historic, art-deco Carlisle Theatre opened in 1939. Today, although the decor remains much the same, the theatre shows indie movies and hosts live performances.

1940's - Earl Shaffer began his journey to hike the Appalachian Trail in one, continuous hike in 1948. Today, thousands of hikers traverse the trail, with many stopping at the Mid-Atlantic Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

1950's - If you were a kid in the 1950's, you may remember snacking on Turkish Taffy, Atomic Fire Balls or candy cigarettes. Today, you can find all of your favorite retro treats at Georgie Lou's Retro Candy.

1960's - The Cumberland County Historical Society is home to much of the county's history. Among the exhibits, you will find a photo of a tire produced by Carlisle Tire & Rubber that was used on an Apollo space mission.

1970's - The Mechanicsburg Museum Association was founded in 1975 to preserve several historic buildings in Mechanicsburg. Today, the 1899 Washington Street Station, the 1866 Stationmaster's House, the 1886 Freight Station, the 1867 Passenger Station, and the 1801 Frankenberger Tavern are open to visitors.

1980's - Miss Ruth's Time Bomb sells a selection of new and vintage retro designs. Find everything from funky socks to vintage pillbox hats and 80's prom dresses among the collection.

1990's - Meadowbrooke Gourds, the largest gourd manufacturer in the country, opened its doors in 1994. Today, visitors to their store can catch factory tours on Tuesdays and leave with seasonal, whimsy gourd creations.


2000's - The U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center is an interactive, indoor and outdoor museum featuring full-scale exhibits depicting the Army story in the Spanish-American War to current missions. Visitors can walk through WWI trenches, navigate a parachute drop and learn about the most recent War on Terrorism mission.