History of Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area
The land of the conservation area has been inhabited for more than 11,000 years. The nearby Shoop Site is one of the largest and oldest Paleo-Indian sites in eastern North America. The Shoop Site is unusual in that it is near a hilltop, unlike most Paleo-Indian sites which are found in the floodplain.
Archaeologists theorize that the Paleo-Indians were hunting migrating caribou. It is interesting that most of the stone tools found at the site were made from stone found 250 miles north in New York.
Thousands of artifacts from the Shoop Site are exhibited in the Smithsonian Institution and the Pennsylvania State Museum. The Shoop Site is on private land and is not open to the collecting of artifacts.
Subsequent inhabitants used the Shoop Site as a temporary shelter or hunting camp. Other American Indians occupying or passing through the area were the Shawnee, Nanticoke, Lenni Lenape, and Iroquois League of Six Nations.
The Susquehannock Indians claimed the land at the time European settlers arrived at Peters Mountain and Powells Valley.
The First Settlers
In 1726, Peter Allen built a stone home on the south side of a mountain, which has since been called Peters Mountain. North of the conservation area is Powells Creek and Powells Valley, named for Margaret Powell who owned the land at the creek mouth in the 1760s.
South of the conservation area is Clarks Valley, named for early landowner William Clark. Clark owned 585 acres that later became the Stackpole Farms at the intersection of PA 225 and PA 325.
The Augusta Road, now PA 225, was an alternate route north to avoid passing too close to the Susquehanna River. The river route was a travel route often used by American Indians, and it could be dangerous when there were strained relations with American Indians.
The Peter Allen House, the stone house at the intersection of PA 225 and PA 325, was built in 1726 by Peter Allen. It is the oldest house in Dauphin County. It was a tollhouse, hotel, and stagecoach stop. The house is currently privately owned.
A second very old house is along the Augusta Road, north of Peters Mountain by Powells Creek, at the intersection of PA 225 and Back Road. This tollhouse and stagecoach stop was a safe place to stop before or after crossing Peters Mountain. The house is currently privately owned.
A portion of the Victoria Trail passes through the southeastern corner of the conservation area and intersects the Appalachian Trail. The Victoria Trail connected the nearby Victoria Iron Furnace to some of its timber supply.
The furnace was on the south side of Peters Mountain in Clarks Valley and was in operation from 1830 to 1857. The land was repeatedly logged to supply wood for charcoal for the furnace. The last steam sawmill in Dauphin County, Baker’s Sawmill, was within the land of the conservation area.
Joseph E. Ibberson
After graduation from Yale in 1948, Joseph "Joe" Ibberson was recruited and hired by the Department of Forests and Waters, Bureau of Forestry, to develop the first forest management plans for the 2 million acres of Pennsylvania state forest land. By 1955, all of the forests were mapped and had management plans.
Joe then created the Division of Forests Advisory Services which further expanded the management plans and targeted the preservation of endangered species and wetlands.
From this work grew the Division of Forest Pest Management, which became a recognized leader in rearing and releasing predators and parasites to effectively control forest pests.
Joe started a forest genetics program that reorganized the tree nurseries to produce large quantities of desirable and improved species.
He also began the service forester program and now there are foresters in many counties to aid private citizens in managing their forested land.
In 1977, Joe retired from the Bureau of Forestry but continued to actively tree farm his own property and serve as a forestry consultant. That same year, Joe received the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Wildlife Conservation Award.
In 1998, he received the American Forest Foundation’s Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award for Pennsylvania. In 1999, Joe received their Outstanding Management of Resources Award for the northeastern states.
To train foresters to help the state’s private woodland owners properly manage their forests, Joe endowed a chair at The Pennsylvania State University.
Joe continued to work with land owners across the commonwealth to participate in the conservation areas program until his death in 2011.
The Conservation Area
In 1962, Joe began buying land to create a tree farm on which he practiced various forms of forest management.
On December 9, 1998, he donated the land to the commonwealth. The stated purpose of the donation was to “recognize the need of people for healthful recreation and a place where they can learn about the environment on which they depend for quality of life.” It became the first conservation area in DCNR's Bureau of State Parks. Upon Joe’s death, an additional 450 acres of land was donated to the conservation area.
"I continue to search for new ideas to effectively preserve the natural resources of Pennsylvania, while sustaining recreational use and the harvesting of wood products." -- Joseph E. Ibberson