Learning about the history of a location doesn't have to happen inside a museum. As warm weather approaches, check out these Cumberland Valley locations where you can add some historical knowledge to your outdoor explorations.
- Camp Michaux: Two miles northwest of Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Camp Michaux has an been a church camp, Civilian Conservation Corps Camp (CCC), a secret POW camp during WWII, and a working farm with links to the iron industry in the late 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Download the self-guided walking tour and follow the trails to each marker to learn more about the interesting history of this quiet location nestled in the ridges of the South Mountain. Along the way, you will see the remains of buildings from the POW era. The trails are mostly clear, but be aware of rocks, holes and protruding roots. Copperhead and rattle snakes are known to be in the area and poison ivy is prevalent especially if you wander off the trails. The Cumberland County Historical Society also hosts guided walking tours of Camp Michaux several times throughout the year.
- Army Heritage Trail: The Army Heritage Trail at the US Army Heritage and Education Center allows users to experience the history of the U.S. Army while walking along this one-mile loop. Fourteen individual exhibits from the French & Indian War through current operations can be enjoyed and explored from dawn to dusk. The trail is flat and made of cinder, making it easy for everyone to enjoy. Leashed dogs are welcomed. Best of all, it’s free!
- Cumberland Valley Rail Trail: Outdoor enthusiasts can hike, bike, or walk this 13-mile trail from Shippensburg to Newville that follows the path of the old Cumberland Valley Railroad. Freight and passenger service in the Cumberland Valley from Harrisburg to Chambersburg began in 1837. The railroad also ran the first passenger sleeping car in the U.S. in 1839. Stop along the way to read the 13 interpretive waypoint signs that focus on the agricultural and Civil War heritage in this region of the Cumberland Valley. The trail traverses wooded areas and farmlands and features a crushed limestone surface (except for a ½-mile of trail near Newville which is paved). At the Shippensburg Station trailhead, be sure to visit the Cumberland Valley Railroad Museum, located inside a restored 50-foot boxcar.
- LeTort Spring Run Nature Trail: In addition to hiking and biking along the 6-foot-wide crushed stone path, nature lovers can enjoy an abundance of bird sightings including song birds, fishing birds, sparrows, woodpeckers and hawk species. Located near downtown Carlisle, the trail runs alongside the LeTort Spring Run and features interpretive signage that highlights the namesake of the LeTort, steam-based industries along the trail, the South Mountain Railroad, and historic architecture.
- Carlisle’s Historic Wayside Markers: As you casually walk through downtown Carlisle, you will come across almost 30 markers highlighting the town’s rich history dating back to the 1700s. Highlights include the Old County Prison, the Carlisle Theatre, and the Old Public Graveyard. Explore on your own or follow the self-guided walking tour. Either way, you will be sure to get in your steps in for the day.