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History of Mont Alto State Park

The Mont Alto Charcoal Iron Furnace was built during 1807 by Colonel Daniel Hughes and his two sons, Samuel and Daniel, on land granted to Colonel Hughes’ father by Lord Baltimore.

During 1864, Colonel Hughes’ grandson, John Holker Hughes, sold the iron works to a partnership headed by Colonel George B. Weistling of Harrisburg. To facilitate getting the iron to market, the Mont Alto Railroad Company was incorporated in 1872 and built by the iron furnace employees.

To increase the profitability of his railroad, Colonel Weistling built a summer resort along Antietam Creek. The park opened during 1875 with:

  • A dance pavilion
  • Kitchen facilities
  • Secluded walking trails
  • Swings
  • Quoit and croquet grounds
  • Shooting gallery
  • Picturesque springs
  • An overlook atop Oak Knob
  • A gymnasium

Mont Alto Park quickly became a popular mountain retreat.

The park outlived the ironworks, which ceased operation in 1893, not long after the death George B. Weistling.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the park and furnace lands, which became part of Michaux State Forest. Mont Alto State Forest Park became Pennsylvania’s first state forest park in 1902, later renamed Mont Alto State Park.

The following year, George B. Weistling’s home became the commonwealth’s first forestry school, Mont Alto Forestry Academy -- today’s Mont Alto Campus of the Pennsylvania State University.

Mont Alto is the oldest Pennsylvania state park still in the system.