PA Lumber Museum: Unraveling the Story of Working Forests in the Pennsylvania Wilds
On two separate occasions I’ve been able to visit the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, located along Scenic Route 6 in Ulysses, PA, part of the Dark Skies Landscape of the Pennsylvania Wilds.
Growing up along the West Branch Susquehanna River, I often saw photographs of the logging industry, the lock systems, and men on wooden rafts facing rough conditions as they did their part in getting downed trees down river. I remember learning to make paper from tree pulp at a summer camp offered by the Clinton County Historical Society, and connecting that process to the region’s history. And swimming… you’ll find barges are still visible in parts of the river today.
Despite what I thought I’d known, I found there was so much more to learn.
The forests of the Pennsylvania Wilds tell a story of resurrection, and the region today showcases the power of a movement. Hillsides once clear cut are now covered with lush forests and bountiful plant and animal life. It took much thought, hard work and effort to make today’s forests a reality. The devastation of the past taught valuable lessons: today work continues in our forests and is managed on public lands by state agencies, and others, attempting to balance recreational use and resource consumption.
The Lumber Museum was started in the early 1960s by the Penn-York Lumberman’s Club and today is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Associates. The museum collects, preserves, and interprets the history of Pennsylvania’s forests and forest industries, as well as their role in the cultural and economic growth of the Commonwealth and nation.
In 2015, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum Visitors Center was reopened after a large-scale renovation. The 7,000-square foot facility is just one of 20 structures on the 160-acre property that provide insights into the lumber history of Pennsylvania and the workers who ran the industry.
You’ll find a 1936 chestnut log cabin that stands as a memorial to the Civilian Conservation Corps, a 1910 Barnhart log loader and so much more. The history unraveled goes further back than the logging industry, and takes visitors on a journey, looking at the effects of the natural elements, Native Americans and settlers, as well as modern-day management and use of forest resources.