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Cumberland County: History Overload

Cumberland County is rich in our nation’s history. Right from the birth of our nation, this county has been at the forefront. Historic battles, a war college, a full-on army heritage center, this county has got it all! For those looking for something calmer, you’re covered too!

With many hiking trails, a museum dedicated especially to hiking (the only one in the whole country), and even a water trail, this county has got a little something for everybody. Let’s jump in!

Molly Pitcher

During the American Revolution, it was very uncommon for women to participate in the actual fighting. Even when they would fake their gender and manage to see action, it would be next to impossible to secure a pension or even just get recognition for their deeds.

 Despite this, there are tales of a specific woman who may have helped fight in the Battle of Monmouth. This woman’s name was Molly Pitcher, or so they say.

Molly Pitcher
Memorial Grave of Molly Pitcher in Carlisle, PA

 Where this story gets interesting is that, not only was the name a nickname and not their actual name, she may have actually been several different people who, over time, have had their stories mixed together. In fact, the name may have actually had its origins as a collective label, in a similar vein to a “G.I. Joe”, where it represents a woman participating in the fighting in general.

 You can find a memorial dedicated to her in Carlisle, which has many other fascinating attractions.

Carlisle Barracks

The Carlisle Barracks was established in 1757 and is the second oldest Army post in the entire United States. These historical barracks have an interesting paste, where, during the Civil War, the Confederate Army set them on fire. Later, the infamous Carlisle Indian School was hosted there.

 The famous athlete Jim Thorpe along with thousands of other Native American children were taught at the school from 1879 to 1918. Now, the barracks are on the campus of the famous U.S. Army War College. 

U.S. Army War College

Located on the same campus as the barracks, the U.S. Army War College is one of our oldest military institutions still in service today. After the many military failings made apparent during the Spanish-American War, it became clear that more training was needed for our military leaders.

 On 27 November 1901, Secretary of War, Elihu Root gave the order to establish both Army General Staff and the Army War College on the same day. The original purpose of the college was to advise the President, come up with plans, acquire intelligence, and direct the intellectual exercise of the Army.

 These days, it’s where the officers that lead our soldiers defending our nation all over the world go to train.


Right nearby, the United States Army Heritage and Education Center(USAHEC) is a site dedicated to telling the story of the US Army. Completely open to the public, it includes interpretive and interactive exhibits, a library and archive, as well as the Army Heritage Trail.

UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" Helicopter
UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" Helicopter
One of the many exhibits at the US Army Heritage and Education Center

 It includes interactive full-scale exhibits, where you can learn all kinds of things about the military history of America, including the Spanish-American War, the Civil War, WWI, Vietnam, and more. The best part? All of this is completely free! 

Self-Guided Walking Tour of Carlisle

 Before leaving town, make sure to take the unique self-guided walking tour where you can learn all about the Confederate army’s assault on Carlisle that preceded the battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Visit 7 different historic buildings and learn all about what makes Carisile such an interesting town. Download the pamphlet here or pick it up at a visitor’s center.

Appalachian Trail Museum

One of the most unique attractions the county has is the Appalachian hiking trail museum. Established in 1921, it is the only museum in the entire country dedicated exclusively to hiking. Go through some of the many exhibits, programs, and presentations, learn about some of the most famous Appalachian hikers, and talk to volunteers who help keep the memory of these brave people alive!

 After taking a hike for yourself, you should participate in the local tradition of visiting the Pine Grove General store and trying to eat a whole half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting.

Conodoguinet Creek
One of the many bends of Conodoguinet Creek

 Conodoguinet Creek Water Trail

Another incredible attraction of the area is the Conodoguinet Creek Water Trail. Approximately 90 miles long, it weaves its way through farms, villages, small towns, and many breathtaking sights. Another completely free attraction, you just need to bring your own equipment! You have the option of taking two different routes.

Trip A is a short 2 miles and only goes from North Middleton Park to Cave Hill Nature Center. You’re able to enjoy a leisurely ride without taking up too much of your time! For those looking for a day trip though, Trip B is where it’s at.

 At just over 36 miles long, you’re in for a huge adventure! While you’re on either route, you can fish, go turtle hunting, and even keep an eye out for exotic birds like herons, kingfishers, osprey, and eagles! 




As you can clearly see, Cumberland County is just filled with natural beauty and rich military history. Ladies and Gentlemen, if you’re in the mood for showing just how much you love Cumberland County, pick up a t-shirt, sweatshirt or hoodie today at our store!


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