12 votes

Parker Dam

28 Fairview Rd, Penfield, Pennsylvania 15849 USA

  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair
  • Public
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“Search for Pennsylvania's Mysterious Elk!”

The 968-acre Parker Dam State Park offers old-fashioned charm and character. A scenic lake, rustic cabins, quaint campground and unbounded forest make Parker Dam an ideal spot for a relaxing vacation. For wilderness explorers, Parker Dam is a gateway to the vast expanses of Moshannon State Forest. You can walk through recovering tornado ravaged woods, backpack into the 50,000-acre Quehanna Wilderness, mountain bike to your heart’s content or enjoy quiet solitude searching for elusive Pennsylvania elk. When European settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, the Iroquois Confederacy had claimed this land and invited the uprooted Lenni Lenape (Delaware) to occupy it. Eventually loggers and homesteaders moved in, forcing the American Indians to migrate west. In 1794, Daniel Delany surveyed the impressive forests of white pine, hemlock and scattered hardwoods. Logging began slowly as small sawmills processed the wood. The light, strong wood of the white pine made it the jewel of early lumbering. Ship builders in Baltimore prized tall white pine logs for ship masts and paid premium prices. Loggers built white pine rafts and rode them down the Susquehanna River. When all went well, loggers arrived in Baltimore to sell their highly valued logs. Logging accelerated in 1851 because of a log boom built across the West Branch of the Susquehanna River at Williamsport. The boom stopped floating logs for sorting and cutting by sawmills. Upriver, “woodhicks” felled trees, cut off their branches and marked each log with the seal of the lumber company that employed them. Most logging occurred in winter, when a thick layer of snow and ice made hauling easier. Woodhicks built wooden log slides on hillsides to easily move logs to temporary pools called splash dams. A reproduction log slide and early lumbering tools can be seen on the Log Slide Trail. Splash dams were released each spring to float logs down Laurel Run to Bennetts Branch, then to Sinnemahoning Creek, and then into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River for their journey to the sawmills at Williamsport. The park takes its name from William Parker, who leased lumbering rights from John Otto. Parker built a splash dam on Laurel Run at the site of the present lake. Full-scale lumbering in the area probably began around 1870. The forests were cut and recut, first for the white pine and later for hemlock and hardwoods. In the early 1900s, the log boom at Williamsport became inefficient when geared locomotives moved the logs directly from the forests to the mills. By 1909, the log boom was dismantled and the Central Pennsylvania Lumber Company built logging railroads and logged the land a final time. Crews loaded up to 45 railroad cars a day until logging ended in 1911. Look for old railroad grades still visible on Moose Grade Road, and Beaver Dam and Quehanna hiking trails. For nearly two decades after the last tree was felled, fires and floods plagued the area. In 1930, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania began buying land from the Central Pennsylvania Lumber Company for $3 an acre. Around the same time, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started a conservation movement to help stem the Great Depression and restore the nation’s natural resources. He called it the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It employed young men in conservation work and gave them hope. In 1933, the CCC boys set up camp at the intersection of Tyler and Mud Run roads (Camp PA S-73). The CCC planted trees, built roads and trails and constructed the current dam of native sandstone on the site of William Parker's splash dam. Their handiwork is seen in the stone pavilions and in the CCC Interpretive Center near the breast of the dam. Parker Dam was designated a recreational reserve in 1936. The CCC, and later the Works Progress Administration continued improvements, until many CCCers were drafted in 1941 for World War II.

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Reviewed by

  • 6 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
June 27, 2018
Rated 5.0

Beautiful camp ground! We tent camped and the site was super reasonable ($30). We were even allowed to drive around first to pick which site we liked the most. The bathrooms and showers were very clean! The sites are spacious enough. The only downside was that, as we stayed on a momday night, they were out of firewood from the weekend. But the drive in to town for more was only about 7 mins down the road.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 14 Reviews
  • 9 Helpful
August 26, 2014

Lovely camp ground. Clean, well maintained facilities. Would stay again.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 10 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
May 20, 2021
Rated 5.0

Parker Dam is about 15 minutes north of I-80. The grounds are very well kept, bathrooms are clean and the park rangers were super friendly. We would definitely comeback for a longer stay. I recommend bringing a hose extension or a long hose. The spigots are set back a bit far on some of the sites

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Parker Dam

28 Fairview Rd
Penfield, Pennsylvania
15849 USA

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  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
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  • Sites
  • Laundry
  • Showers
  • Firewood
  • Fifty Amp
  • Full Hookup
  • Paved Sites
  • Dump Station
  • Reservations
  • Sewer Hookup
  • Water Hookup
  • Potable Water
  • Back In RV Sites
  • Vehicle Wash Permitted
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