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History of Gouldsboro State Park

Jay Gould

The name Gouldsboro comes from the village north of the park that was named for Jay Gould (1836-1892). A native of New York, Gould acquired a very large fortune that by 1892 included ownership of ten percent of all railroad tracks in the country. One of the railroads he owned was the Erie-Lackawanna. This rail line parallels the eastern boundary of the park and is now a part of the Steamtown, USA railroad excursion route between Scranton and Pocono Summit.

Gould was a co-owner of a leather tannery at Thornhurst, a small village 9.5 miles west of Gouldsboro. Raw hides shipped from Australia and the western United States came to Gouldsboro by railroad and then were taken in two-ton loads by horse drawn wagons over a plank road to Thornhurst for tanning.

Ice Industry

From about 1900 to 1936, Tobyhanna and Gouldsboro lakes were the site of active ice industries. The ice was cut from the lakes during the winter and stored in large barn-like structures. During the rest of the year, the ice was added to railroad boxcars hauling fresh produce and meats destined for East Coast cities. Boxcar loads of ice were also shipped to cities for use in family iceboxes (early refrigerators). During the summer when ice usage peaked, up to 150 boxcar loads per day shipped out of the Tobyhanna, Gouldsboro, and Klondike (near Gouldsboro) plants. Some ice was even shipped to Florida for use in hospitals.

Land Acquisition

In 1912, the federal government acquired the land that became the Tobyhanna Military Reservation. In World War I, (1914-1918), the Army used the reservation as a tank and ambulance corps training center and the National Guard used it as an artillery-training center.

From 1918 to 1931, the reservation was used for artillery training.

In the early 1930s, the reservation housed Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollees.

From 1937 to 1941, the reservation served as an artillery training center for West Point cadets. During World War II, the reservation housed German prisoners-of-war.

From 1946 to 1948, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used the reservation.

In 1948, the War Assets Administration took control of the property and in April of 1949, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania received title to most of the 26,000 acres, with the remaining area operated as the Tobyhanna Army Depot. Of the land acquired, about two-thirds of the area was made into Game Lands 127, and the remaining one-third was used to create both Gouldsboro and Tobyhanna state parks.

Tobyhanna State Park opened to the public in 1949, complete with parking areas, swimming beach, boat rental and boat launching site, water supply, and sanitary facilities. The camping area was added in 1959.

The former Department of Forests and Waters (DFW) subsequently acquired additional properties, and in 1956, the former Pennsylvania Fish Commission (PFC) purchased Gouldsboro Lake and land not included in the larger government tract.

In 1958, the DFW and the PFC agreed to combine the area owned by both agencies into a single recreational site.

Gouldsboro State Park opened to the public in 1958.

In 2004, the lake and land owned by the PA Fish and Boat Commission was transferred to DCNR.