Exploring the Abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County

Inside the ruins of the General's quarters at the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in the Buchanan State Forest.

The abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County was used to house German prisoners of war after the Nazis surrendered in May, 1945.

Historical display at the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County.
Historical display adjacent to the parking area off Oregon Road.

The forests of Pennsylvania were no strangers to POW camps during WWII, as the secret Pine Grove Furnace POW Camp operated just to the east in the Michaux State Forest (Cumberland County) as well.

Pine Grove Furnace POW Camp historical marker in Cumberland County.
Pine Grove Furnace POW Camp historical marker in Cumberland County.

The Sideling Hill POW Camp was originally constructed as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the 1930s (as was the Pine Grove Furnace POW Camp).

It also served as housing for workers building the nearby PA Turnpike(1939-40), as well as a camp for American “conscientious objectors” during WWII (1941-44).

The Sideling Hill POW Camp was originally a CCC Camp before WWII.
The Sideling Hill POW Camp was originally a CCC Camp before WWII.

Today the ruins of the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp can be found along Oregon Road in the Buchanan State Forest, where you’ll also find an informational kiosk describing the numbered ruins.

A layout of the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp displayed on a kiosk at the site of the ruins.
A layout of the abandoned POW camp displayed on a kiosk at the site of the ruins.

How to Find the Abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp

The ruins of the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp can be found along Oregon Road (a State Forest road) at GPS coordinates 40.05075, -78.14946.

A map to the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County.
A map to the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County.

The most prominent remains of the former POW Camp are the former officers quarters, which are now a privately owned cabin.

The former officers quarters at the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County, PA.
The former officers quarters.

Across the road from the officers quarters you’ll see a large gravel parking lot and the kiosk mapping out the numbered ruins of the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp before you.

Remnants of a barracks at the former Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County, PA.
Remnants of a barracks at the former camp in Fulton County, PA.

Exploring the Ruins of the Abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp

Today many of the ruins at the former Sideling Hill POW Camp are simply foundations.

Foundation of a prisoners barracks at the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County.
Foundation of a prisoners barracks.

An exception to this is the former General’s quarters, where the front entrance and walls and are still fairly intact.

Entrance to the General's quarters at the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County.
The front entrance of the General’s quarters.

The stacked-stone walls of the General’s quarters have stood up to time and the elements well, nearly 100 years after they were first constructed.

Inside the General's quarters at the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp.
Inside the General’s quarters.

Another landmark that has stood up well is a fireplace near the former camp mess hall.

Remnants of a chimney at the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in the Buchanan State Forest.
Remnants of a fireplace and chimney near the mess hall.

The base of the camp flag pole is also in relatively good condition.

Location of the flag pole at the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp in Fulton County.
Location of the flagpole at the abandoned camp.

The Sideling Hill POW camp operated until March of 1946, when the prisoners were sent to Fort Indiantown Gap for processing and then returned to Germany.

The former officers quarters at the Sideling Hill POW Camp, now a privately-owned cabin.
The former officers quarters, now a privately-owned cabin.

Other Points of Interest Near the Sideling Hill POW Camp

Immediately to the left of the former officers quarters (the modern-day private cabin), you’ll find a marker for the Tunnel Trail.

The Tunnel Access trail head near the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp.
The Tunnel Access trail head near the abandoned Sideling Hill POW Camp.

This 0.4 mile trail leads to the western portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel along the Abandoned PA Turnpike.

The western portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel along the abandoned PA Turnpike.
The western portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel along the abandoned PA Turnpike.

Workers lived in the barracks at the Sideling Hill camp during the construction of the turnpike in 1939-40, and would have walked or driven to work via this road (now trail) every day.

A model of the Sideling Hill Tunnel at the PA State Museum in Harrisburg.
A model of the Sideling Hill Tunnel at the PA State Museum in Harrisburg.

Today, the 13 mile-long Abandoned PA Turnpike is one of the most popular bike trails in Pennsylvania.

Bicycling the Sideling Hill Tunnel in September 2020.
Bicycling the Sideling Hill Tunnel in September 2020.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike was constructed, in large part, over the route of an earlier, proposed rail line known as the South Pennsylvania Railroad, abandoned remnants of which can be found nearby in the Buchanan State Forest.

Approaching the southern end of the abandoned South Pennsylvania railroad aqueduct near Sideling Hill.
Approaching the southern end of the abandoned South Pennsylvania Railroad aqueduct near Sideling Hill.

The South Pennsylvania Railroad was backed by William Vanderbilt, one of the world’s richest men in the 1880s, and between 1883-85 he brought skilled stonemasons from Sicily into Pennsylvania to construct tunnels, bridge abutments, and aqueducts to accomodate what he hoped would be a rail line to compete directly with the Pennsylvania Railroad.

William Vanderbilt owned the New York Central Railroad and was the financial backer of the South Pennsylvania Railroad.
William Vanderbilt owned the New York Central Railroad and was, along with Andrew Carnegie, a chief financial backer of the South Pennsylvania Railroad.

Although the South Pennsylvania Railroad project was ultimately abandoned before the rail line could be completed, one of the skillfully constructed aqueducts can still be found near the Sideling Hill POW Camp, in remarkably good condition.

The cut-stone interior of the South Penn Railroad Aqueduct in the Buchanan State Forest.
The cut-stone interior of the abandoned South Penn Railroad Aqueduct in the Buchanan State Forest.

Nearby Attractions

Big Mountain Overlook in Fulton County is one of the finest roadside scenic vistas in all of Pennsylvania!

Big Mountain Overlook in the Buchanan State Forest on an August afternoon.
Big Mountain Overlook in the Buchanan State Forest on an August afternoon.

Cowans Gap State Park in Fulton County features a 42-acre lake, miles of hiking trails, and several fantastic scenic overlooks.

A fisherman enjoying a fall day at Cowans Gap State Park
A fishing pier at Cowans Gap State Park in Fulton County.

The 7 Best Scenic Overlooks in the Buchanan State Forest will introduce you to even more excellent vistas within easy driving distance of the Sideling Hill POW Camp.

Bark Road Vista in Fulton County on a summer afternoon.
Bark Road Vista in Fulton County on a summer afternoon.

As mentioned previously, the Pine Grove Furnace POW Camp was another secret WWII POW camp that housed German prisoners in a former CCC camp, the ruins of which you can still visit in the Michaux State Forest.

Ruins of the secret POW interrogation camp in the MIchaux State Forest.
Ruins of the secret POW interrogation camp in the Michaux State Forest.

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Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

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