"This is a wonderful family event, and we have two fun-filled days of activities planned," said park manager Jason Zimmerman. "Both days will feature food, craft vendors, hay rides, haunted mansion tours, music, line dancing, costume judging, living history and historical tours. We will also have a number of live demonstrations including candle dipping, apple cidering, and charcoal making."
Among the activities are pumpkin carving and the popular “Hairy Hand” event." Pumpkin carving includes carving a jack-o-lantern, making the candle to light it, and adding it to the pumpkin float on Fuller Lake on Saturday. "You can bring your own pumpkin or buy one at the park," Zimmerman said.
When the lit pumpkins are floated on Fuller Lake on Saturday evening at dusk, the mysterious "Hairy Hand" emerges from the lake. The fictional folk lore of the "Hairy Hand" story dates back to the 1980’s and is a fun and spooky story for participants of all ages.
Throughout both days there will live demonstrations as well as historical tours of the park devoted to the 19th Century iron mining and production at the park. Haunted History Tours of the Iron Master’s Mansion, which is currently being remodeled through efforts with the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, will be offered on Saturday evening following the "Hairy Hand" program.
The history of Pine Grove Furnace State Park dates back to 1764 when the first iron works were built on the property. Through various owners and expansions, the iron works were productive until 1895 when new technologies put it and other iron producers out of business. Its owners and operators are closely linked to area development, the Civil War and the formation of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association. When bought by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1913, part of the property became Pine Grove Furnace State Park and much of the rest became Michaux State Forest. Some of the historic buildings dating back to the charcoal iron community still stand and include the furnace, ironmaster’s mansion, clerk’s office, stable, grist mill (now the Appalachian Trail Museum), the second iron master’s mansion (now the park office) and several residences. Remnants of raceways, charcoal hearths and related man-made features are still discernible. In 1977, Pine Grove Iron Works was entered in the National Register of Historical Places.
The Appalachian Trail Museum opened in the grist mill at the park on June 5, 2010, and is a tribute to the men and women who built the 2,179 mile trail in the late 1930's and to those who hike and maintain it today. The trail stretches from Maine to Georgia, goes through 14 states and has its midway point near the Appalachian Trail Museum.
Fall Furnace Fest admission and Appalachian Trail Museum admission are free along with most of the days activities. Anyone interested in making a contribution or volunteering for Fall Furnace Fest should call the Pine Grove Furnace State Park office at 717-486-7174.
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About Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Steeped in natural and historical features, the 696-acre Pine Grove Furnace State Park is in a beautiful mountain setting in southern Cumberland County. Surrounded by Michaux State Forest, Pine Grove Furnace features two lakes, 25-acre Laurel Lake and 1.7-acre Fuller Lake, a historic area and the Appalachian Trail. The park is easily reached from I-81. Visitors should take Exit 37 to PA 233 south then travel for eight miles. For more information on DCNR, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us.