History of Colonel Denning State Park
“Colonel” William Denning (1737 - 1830)
Although never a colonel, William Denning (1737-1830) served as a Revolutionary War sergeant from March 1778 to April 1780 in Nathaniel Irish’s Company of Artillery Artificers in Benjamin Flower’s Regiment.
Stationed just outside of Carlisle at Washingtonburg Forge (now Carlisle Barracks), Denning earned his place in history making wrought iron cannons for the Continental Army. Unfortunately, none of Denning’s cannons survive today.
After the Revolution, William Denning lived out his life near Newville and is interred with his only son and daughter in the Big Spring Presbyterian Church cemetery in Newville. His monument reads, “The patriotic blacksmith and forger of wrought iron cannon during the Revolutionary War.” It is not known when or who added the “Colonel” to Sergeant William Denning’s name.
Civilian Conservation Corps
Colonel Denning State Park became a state recreational area around 1930, under the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry. It was developed formally in 1936 through the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp S-111 in Perry County.