“Steeped in History and Nature!”
Steeped in natural and historical features, the 696-acre Pine Grove Furnace State Park is at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in an area known as South Mountain. Visitors enjoy many recreational opportunities, including two mountain lakes, Laurel Lake and Fuller Lake, hiking the Appalachian Trail, biking the rail trail, visiting the Appalachian Trail Museum and imagining when the park was a charcoal-fired iron furnace community. The park is surrounded by Michaux State Forest, which provides opportunities for exploring extensive public lands around South Mountain. In 1764, partners George Stevenson, Robert Thornburgh and John Arthur built an iron furnace along Mountain Creek. They named it Pine Grove Iron Works. It manufactured ten plate stoves, fireplace backs, iron kettles and possibly munitions during the American Revolution. In 1782, Michael Ege, a rising Cumberland County iron mogul, purchased the iron works. Over the next 32 years, Ege grew his business until he was the sole owner of Pine Grove, Cumberland, Holly and Carlisle iron works. Michael’s oldest son, Peter Ege, inherited Pine Grove Iron Works. In 1829, Peter built for his wife, Jane Arthur Ege, a red brick, English Tudor mansion. Jane died at Pine Grove in 1841 and was laid to rest in the Pine Grove Cemetery next to her son George Washington Ege, who had died in 1831. Peter expanded his iron works in 1830, building Laurel Forge, which reheated and hammered cast iron from Pine Grove Furnace to produce wrought iron, a bendable metal that could be formed into many shapes. The financial panic of 1837 bankrupted the Pine Grove Iron Works. At a sheriff sale the following year, Frederick Watts and his law partner Charles Bingham Penrose purchased Pine Grove to try their luck in the iron business. Watts went on to found Penn State University in 1855 and served in 1871 as Commissioner of Agriculture for President Grant. Penrose was a state senator and Solicitor of the Treasury for President Harrison. In 1864, Jay Cooke and Company bought the iron works and formed South Mountain Iron Company, bringing in Jackson C. Fuller to be the furnace manager to run the daily operations, while the business affairs were taken care of in Philadelphia. The new company built South Mountain Railroad to bring raw materials to the furnace and move the iron products to market.
I loved staying here in October mid week. It was peaceful and all I had were the trees surrounding me. The sites are pretty well spaced and there are some easy trails for a morning walk.
The campground host was friendly and helpful.
Unfortunately for me, the boat rentals had already closed for the season.
And there is NO Internet signal in the area. I have Verizon and on occasion had a signal, but typically had to drive a few miles down the road to deal with some work communications.
Laurel and Fuller Lakes offer a wonderful day for swimming in the summer. The campground is clean, and during the early summer you can see AT hikers coming in to do the Half Gallon Challenge (ice cream eating). The AT museum is cool, and there is a historic iron furnace on the grounds. Take the time to hike Pole Steeple Trail and enjoy the view. There is often people rock climbing or rappelling.
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Pine Grove Furnace State Park
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