National Parks in Pennsylvania

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Allegheny Portage Railroad

Located in southwestern Pennsylvania and about 12 miles from Altoona, Allegheny Portage Railroad is the first-ever railroad to be constructed over the Allegheny Mountains. The railroad which till today remains an industrial wonder functioned from 1834 to 1854. The railroad played a huge part in influencing and advancing the American trade market as well as facilitating settlement within the country. With facilities such as the visitors center, the Engine House, Staple Bend Tunnel, and even the hiking trails and picnic area, today, visitors, train lovers, nature and park enthusiasts as well as history buffs alike can enjoy all that Allegheny Portage Railroad has to offer.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Commonly called the A.T. for short, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is located in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States. Established in 1937, the long trail which spans over 2,000 miles cuts across valleys in the mountains as well as 14 states in America – Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Georgia, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. A prime location for hiking enthusiasts, the trail can be used for hikes ranging from easy to advanced levels. Guests and tourists visiting the trail can enjoy various other activities like camping, biking, and tours.

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

Discovered by the English Captain John Smith Chesapeake while he was on a voyage in the early 1600s, this trail spanning 3,000 miles across the Chesapeake Bay is a collection of four historic water routes – the Susquehanna River, Chester River, Upper Nanticoke River, and Upper James River. During his exploration, the captain met native American communities along the trail and documented them. Till today, his work remains relevant as locations on the captain’s map reveal historic treasures and proof of early native American life. The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is one of the only two designated National Historic Trails in the U.S.

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Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Covering over 65,000 miles and 7 states in the U.S while serving as a home to over 18 million people, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed is the largest coastal water body in the entire world. Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia are the seven states that the Chesapeake covers. The coastal body has a 14:1 land to water ratio. Over 100,000 tributaries flow through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed including five rivers – The Susquehanna, Potomac, Rappahannock, York, and James rivers. Popular for being a tourist destination, many people visit the Chesapeake each year. Here, visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, boating among other activities.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Located along the Delaware River’s mid-section in Pennsylvania and New Jersey is the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Spanning 70,000 acres, this national recreation area is home to Native American archaeological sites as well as early Dutch settlements and structures from the colonial era. Established as a national recreational area in 1965, the Delaware Water Gap village during the 19th century was a focal point for the early resort industry, and this was largely because of the railroad presence. Today, the area is still recognized for its vacation attractions. Delaware Water Gap is a unique location with rich history and fun activities for guests to enjoy.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

This former home of famous American author Edgar Allan Poe is located at 532 N. 7th Street, within the Spring Garden neighborhood in Philadelphia. The preserved home here is one of many places the renowned poet lived within the Philadelphia area between the years of 1838 to 1844. However, this is the only one still standing. The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site was designated a National Historic Landmark in the year 1962. Some notable works by Edgar Allan Poe include “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Fall of the House of Usher” and poems like “The Haunted Palace” and “To Helen.”

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Eisenhower National Historic Site

Preserving the home, farm and surrounding property of former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the Eisenhower National Historic Site. With its location just outside of Gettysburg in Cumberland Township, Adams County, Pennsylvania, the late president, and his wife purchased the property in 1950. The property was initially intended for weekend getaways and also a meeting place for other leaders. However, in 1961 after leaving the White House, he moved in with his family more permanently. Today, the grounds can be toured by guests where they will get to see the home, vintage cars, barns, cattle operation, and many other facilities which have been preserved as they were back in the day.

First State National Historical Park

Standing as an interstate National Park Service unit with most of the park in Delaware and a part of it extending into Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The Park was first established by Barack Obama as the “First State National Monument.” It was then later designated by Congress in March 2013 as “First State National Historical Park.” First State National Park holds the colonial history of Delaware and the role the state played in what America is today. The Park comprises seven locations – The Woodlawn Tract at Beaver Valley, Fort Christina, John Dickinson Plantation, New Castle Court House Museum, Old Swedes Historic Site, Ryves Holt House, and The Dover Green.

Flight 93 National Memorial

This National Memorial commemorates the United Airlines Flight 93 plane crash. The aircraft was one of the four which were hijacked during the September 11 terrorist attack. Flight 93 National Memorial is located in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The memorial honors the victims of the crash who fought the hijackers and stopped them from hitting their intended target. Shortly after the crash, an impermanent memorial was set up to honor the victims until Flight 93 National Memorial was completed and opened on September 10, 2011. Visitors here can see names of all 40 victims of the tragic crash on the white marble Wall of Names in the visitors center. 

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Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Established in 1931 and located in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, the Fort Necessity National Battlefield is a preserved National Battlefield of the 1754 Battle of Fort Necessity. The battle was an early French and Indian War battle that eventually led to the surrender of Colonel George Washington’s British forces. The colonel’s colonial forces surrendered to the French and Indians under Louis Coulon de Villiers. Also encompassed in the site is the Mount Washington Tavern, the site of the Battle of Jumonville Glen, as well as two grave units of the British General Edward Braddock.

Friendship Hill National Historic Site

The home of American politician and longest-serving Secretary of the Treasury who held this office under two presidents. The Friendship Hill National Historic Site preserves Albert Gallatin’s home. Gallatin also served as a U.S. Congressman as well as an ambassador to Great Britain and France. Friendship Hill has really scenic views overlooking the Monongahela River near Point Marion, Pennsylvania. The site which is managed by the National Park Service allows access to tourists and guests where they can learn about the great Albert Gallatin and his contribution to American history.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the Gettysburg National Military Park preserves and protects the site of the 1863 American Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. The Park includes many other supporting facilities during the war such as the reserve, supply, and hospital facilities. Also here are some sites that were built during the aftermath of the war including the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Gettysburg National Military Park is open to visitors and receives an average of almost a million visitors every year. On the grounds of the park are the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center where guests get to see 43,000 American Civil War artifacts displayed.

Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site

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This historic church known by the locals as Old Swedes is located at 929 South Water Street in the Southwark neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. the construction of the church began in 1698 and was completed in 1700, making the Gloria Dei Church the oldest church in Pennsylvania and the second oldest Sweden church in all of America. A collection of religious and historical artifacts from over three centuries acquired by the church is preserved within the grounds of the church. Also here is the church cemetery where many historical figures are buried. The church site is owned and maintained by the Corporation of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Located in southeastern Berks County, near Elverson, Pennsylvania is the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. The facility is a 19th-century iron plantation that was founded in 1771 by the ironmaster Mark Bird. He is the son of one of Pennsylvania’s most successful ironmasters William Bird. Operations in Hopewell Furnace functioned around a charcoal-fired cold-blast iron blast furnace. Today, the site includes 14 restored buildings including the ironmaster’s house, a company store, and the blacksmith’s shop. A number of other structures have also been restored such as the blast furnace, blast machinery, water wheel, charcoal house, and cast house. 

Independence National Historical Park

Several sites that played significant roles in the American Revolution are preserved in this federally protected historic district in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Independence National Historical Park is about 55 acres in size and is often referred to as “America’s most historic square mile” because of the presence of so many historic landmarks within the park. In the middle of the park is the centerpiece – Independence Hall which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was here that the Declaration of Independence was made. Other symbolic monuments here include the Liberty Bell, the First Bank, the site of the First Continental Congress, and more.

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Johnstown Flood National Memorial

In the tragic Johnstown Flood of May 31, 1889, 2,200 people died and thousands were injured. Located about 10 miles from Johnstown at 733 Lake Road, Pennsylvania is the Johnstown Flood National Memorial which commemorates all the lives lost because of the tragic flood. Investigations later revealed that the flood was caused by a structural breakage in the South Fork Dam which was known to be faulty. Today, the memorial continues to preserve what is left of the dam as well as parts of the former Lake Conemaugh bed among other structures. Visitors can enjoy tours of the grounds and also go on hikes on one of the hiking trails connecting various parts of the memorial.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

The 1804 to 1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition, also called the Corps of Discovery Expedition is commemorated with this National Historic Trail. Running almost 5000 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the Columbia River, Oregon, the trail connects sixteen American states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The trail is the second-longest National Historic Trail in the U.S. Today, many activities can be enjoyed on the trail such as boating, horseback riding, scenic walks, and more.

Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River

The Delaware River is the largest free-flowing river in the eastern United States area. The river flows past many forests, villages, and farmlands, it also connects many other regions within the country. The Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River spanning 67 miles along Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s borders was incorporated in the year 2000 to form a unit of its own. The Park is today known for its rich natural, historic and cultural resources that make it a great destination for recreational activities such as boating and fishing.

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North Country National Scenic Trail

Generally known as the North Country Trail or NCT for short, the North Country National Scenic Trail is a 4,600-mile footpath running from Middlebury, Vermont to Lake Sakakawea State Park, North Dakota. The trail connects both the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail with the Lewis and Clark Trail in the United States. NCT also passes through eight U.S. states – Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. As of 2019, the North Country National Scenic Trail was the longest National Scenic Trail authorized by Congress. Visitors can enjoy activities such as horseback riding, skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, and biking in parts of the trail.

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail or PHT for short was explored by former United States President George Washington. The trail which spans 830 miles in its trail network (proposed expansion trails included) was set up in a partnership between the Allegheny Highlands and the Potomac River to preserve a group of trails to be used for educational, transportation, and recreational use. Also along the trail are trail corridors managed by other organizations. While here today, visitors can explore many options for recreation including hiking, biking, boating, and more.

Steamtown National Historic Site

Both a railroad museum and a heritage railroad make up the Steamtown National Historic Site which is located in downtown Scranton, Pennsylvania. with over 62 acres in size, the site was established in October 1986. The turntable style of the museum is very similar to original DL&W (Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad Yard-Dickson Manufacturing Co.) facilities. Also on the grounds of the site are some original 1899 to 1902 outbuildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the DL&W Site. Steamtown educates visitors and tourists about the history of steam railroad transportation and all the people that contributed to building the railroad.

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Thaddeus Kościuszko National Memorial

This Philly-based National Memorial preserves and protects the home of Polish hero Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Kościuszko. He is famous for being one of the first Europeans to aid the American Revolution in 1776. The Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial can be found at 301 Pine Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The compact site is only 0.02 acres in size, making it the smallest unit of the National Park System. The Memorial was authorized officially in October 1972. Visitors can visit the memorial for a free tour during the weekends from 12 pm to 4 pm.

Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River

Stretching along over 73 miles of the Delaware river, specifically from Hancock, New York to Sparrowbush, New York, The Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River is one of the top fishing locations in the country. This recreational unit is home to a rich wildlife ecosystem. Visitors have quite a number of options of activities to enjoy here including boating, swimming, and fishing. The Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River is also a great resource that supplies water to over 17 million people.

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge is the site of the Continental Army’s winter encampment, it honors all the sacrifices that were made during the American Revolutionary War. Originally Valley Forge State Park, the encampment was in use by the Army from 1777 to 1778. The site is about 3,500 acres in size and it has historical structures, museums, recreated encampments as well as recreational facilities for guests to enjoy including boating together with 26 miles of biking and hiking trails. This is why the park receives over 1.2 million visitors each year.

Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

This historic trail remains one of America’s most celebrated because it was explored by the American founding fathers – General George Washington, the French Lieutenant General Comte Jean de Rochambeau together with their armies. It was 1781 and the troops formed the largest battalion ever to defeat the British Army. They traveled by marching along the trail from Newport, Rhode Island into Yorktown in Virginia where they won the battle and secured American independence. The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail comprises both land and water trails, and today, tourists and visitors can hike, bike, or even paddle along this historic trail.

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