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History of Linn Run State Park

Linn Run is in the heart of the Laurel Mountains. The mountainous land ranges from 1,300 feet to 2,800 feet above sea level.

Most of the land was bought from the Byers and Allen Lumber Company for $42,662. When the commonwealth acquired this land in 1909, it was the first major public purchase of denuded forest land in the Ohio River Basin. Today, it is difficult to visualize what this land looked like in 1909 or to imagine that some people questioned the wisdom of purchasing so much “wasteland.”

About 15 years prior to the acquisition of the Linn Run property, this entire area was clearcut. The old growth forest was transformed into an area devoid of timber and wildlife. Treetops littered the area. Saw logs were sold for lumber. Small logs were used for props in nearby coal mines. Hemlock bark, a source of tannin, was bundled and shipped to tanneries. The railroad that hauled timber and other products to market caused many severe wildfires.

In his first report (September 1909), Forester John R. Williams wrote:

“I should say that fully three-fifths of the reserve has been burned over since lumbering was done. The fires did great damage to the young growth. Some places are covered with nothing but ferns and blackberry bushes.”

Occasional scars from those early fires can still be seen after years of forest rehabilitation.

During 1910, the newly formed Pennsylvania Game Commission cooperated with the former Department of Forestry to restock deer. White-tailed deer were imported from New York and Michigan for release throughout Pennsylvania.

Interesting traces remain of the Pittsburgh, Westmoreland, and Somerset Railroad that serviced the area. The main line extended from Rector to Somerset. Because of heavy loads, the tracks switched back and forth across Linn Run several times. Along the Fish Run Trail in Forbes State Forest you will find traces of the old railroad bed.