The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum features a beautiful blend of historic artifacts and interactive exhibits related to one of the most important industries in the state in the 19th century.
Situated along historic Route 6 in the mountains of Potter County, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum helps visitors understand the history of the lumbering industry in the Keystone State, from the arrival of the first Europeans to the present day.
One of the most interesting attractions at this museum complex is a full-size, re-created lumber camp, giving visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the life of 19th-century logger in Pennsylvania.
What follows is a brief overview of some of the best things to see and do at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum – I would recommend allowing yourself 2-3 hours to fully experience and enjoy it all.
The Visitor Center
The Visitor Center is a beautiful two-story, lodge-like structure.
Inside you’ll find an exhibit hall that takes you on a journey through the history of PA’s lumber industry.
You’ll see how the tools of the trade evolved over time.
You’ll learn about the heyday of the lumber boom in PA, when Williamsport became the “Lumber Capital of the World”.
You’ll also learn about the aftermath of the lumber boom, when many of the forests in the state had been clear cut and the land left in ruins.
Personalities like Joseph Rothrock, the “father of Pennsylvania forestry”, are featured in exhibits related to the restoration of what had become “Pennsylvania’s Desert”.
The works of the Civilian Conservation Corps are featured as well, a Great Depression-era public works program that put hundreds of thousands of young men to work on environmental conservation projects like replanting forests, building trails, and creating many of the state and national parks we enjoy today.
The Lumber Camp
I found the re-created early 20th-century lumber camp to be one of the most interesting aspects of visiting the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum.
It’s one thing to read about what the camps were like, it’s another to actually walk through a full-scale model of one.
Interpretive signs throughout the lumber camp help you understand what you’re seeing.
There’s a 70-ton Shay geared-locomotive on display, that would have been used to haul logs from the forest to the camp’s sawmill, as well as haul finished lumber from the sawmill to markets.
The steam-powered sawmill itself is another highlight of the lumber camp.
The museum’s operable sawmill is a good representation of the mills in use in PA during the lumber boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Perhaps the most picturesque spot at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum is the sawmill’s log pond.
A nearby interpretive sign describes the many functions the log pond served.
The Webber Cabin
Situated on a hill between the Visitor Center and the lumber camp, you’ll find the Webber Cabin.
Bob and Dotty Webber lived in this cabin on the west rim of the PA Grand Canyon for more than 50 years, without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing.
The interior of the cabin is simple but functional, and there’s a film playing on a loop inside you can watch that tells you more about the Webbers and their “off the grid” life.
Dotty passed away in 2012, Bob in 2015, and the cabin was relocated to the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum and opened as a tribute to the Webbers in 2018.
The CCC Cabin
Located on the eastern side of the Visitor Center, you’ll find a Civilian Conservation Corps cabin that was originally built in 1936 and subsequently relocated to the museum grounds to preserve it.
Inside and out, this rustic log cabin build by the CCC showcases the program’s iconic craftsmanship.
Located near the CCC cabin you’ll find yet another outbuilding, this one housing the Tannery Exhibit and a model railroad display.
A restored 1945 Brookville locomotive, used at an Elk County tannery, is one of the highlights of the exhibit.
The model railroad exhibit located in the rear of this building features a large diorama depicting logging trains moving logs from the mountains to mills.
Hours and Directions
The hours of operation for the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum change seasonally:
WINTER HOURS: (in effect between December 1st and March 31st) Friday-Saturday-Sunday, 10 AM to 4 PM.
SUMMER HOURS: (in effect between April 1st and November 30th) Wednesday through Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM.
The address for the museum is 5660 US-6 W, Ulysses, PA 16948, directly across the road from the entrance to Denton Hill State Park.
For more information, be sure to check out the museum’s OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
Boone Run Vista is a beautiful roadside scenic overlook near Cherry Springs State Park.
Ole Bull State Park in Potter County is named in honor of Ole Bornemann Bull, a famous Norwegian violinist who purchased 11,144 acres in Potter County in 1852 and attempted to develop a Norwegian colony there that he dubbed “New Norway”.
Lyman Run State Park is located just a few miles from Denton Hill State Park, and is home to the famous “sawtooth dam” forming Lyman Run Lake.
The abandoned ski resort at Denton Hill State Park in Potter County is a case study in dystopian beauty.
Abandoned nearly a decade ago, the resort sits empty and decaying, with no buildings or even a restroom open to the public, even though the state park is still open to visitors.
Austin Dam Memorial Park in Potter County is the site of the second-deadliest flood in PA history.
Today you can tour the ruins of the dam and learn more about this historic tragedy through interpretive exhibits there.
Leonard Harrison State Park in neighboring Tioga County is synonymous with one of the Keystone State’s most famous natural wonders – the PA Grand Canyon!
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