Begin Main Content Area

History of Buchanan State Forest

Nearly all of the five principle tracts of the Buchanan State Forest were purchased by the commonwealth between 1904 and the early 1930s when the logging companies were either letting their cut-over lands be sold for taxes or selling them to the state for approximately two dollars per acre.

This is a region of historic interest and scenic beauty. In Bedford County, there is a cave where saltpeter had been produced for gunpowder before and during the American Revolution. Close by are the “Resettlement Lands” containing several old cemeteries that date back to pre-Civil Wars days.

Resettlement lands were purchased by the federal government either through buying up marginal farms or purchasing at tax sales. The lands were eventually deeded to the commonwealth and became part of the state forest system.

Winding through Allens Valley and westward over Sideling Hill in Fulton County are traces of an early military road known as the Forbes or Forbes-Burd Road built by General John Forbes and Colonel James Burd. This road allowed the British to move military forces west to attack the French at Fort Duquesne and later to supply Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh.

Cowans Gap, Fulton County, marks the home site of one of the earliest settlers, British Major Samuel Cowan who farmed the area which is now Cowans Gap State Park. Further south, near Cove Gap, is Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park -- the birthplace of President James Buchanan.

Civilian Conservation Corps

Four Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps were located in the Buchanan State Forest. During the Great Depression of the 1930's, several hundred young men lived here and constructed forest roads and trails that still serve us today.

Camp No. S-52 was built in 1933 near Oregon Creek. Many improvements to the area resulted from the hard work of these young men. During World War II the site was converted into a prisoner-of-war camp for German prisoners. It closed but was re-opened to serve as quarters for conscientious objectors.

The other camp locations became picnic areas -- S-109 in Bear Valley, S-142 at Sweet Root, and S-154 at Blankley which was a camp for black CCC crewmembers.