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Reprint: Prince Gallitzin State Park attracts more than 2 million annually to Cambria County

The beauty of Pennsylvania is evident to anyone who visits the state parks, particularly the one in the county that I grew up in many years ago.

Prince Gallitzin State Park is located near Patton in northern Cambria County, and it may be a gem that many people in the county have never discovered. In 2019, more than two million visitors came to Prince Gallizin to fish, camp, swim, or picnic.

Yet, my question is why does Cambria County not tout such a wonderful resource?

According to numbers from the Pennsylvania State DCNR, the park in rural Pennsylvania is the third most popular destination of state parks among the state’s 121.

First is Presque Isle State Park in Erie, which is the only one that has a seashore and 3.7 million visitors a year. Second is Pymatuning that is home to a reservoir that is the largest lake in the state and has 2.4 million visitors.

Prince Gallitzin had 2.03 million people visit it two years ago, and I published a piece about it a year ago. Since you cannot access it any longer, I will reprint some of them here on my new blog.

“The breathtaking beauty and great recreational opportunities of Prince Gallitzin State Park lead more than two million people to visit it each year”

… the magnificence of Pennsylvania in Cambria County

Pennsylvania knows how to showcase its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, with 121 state parks overall.

However, the dream that started during the Great Depression and continued during the 1950s in northern Cambria County in west-central Pa. leads millions of people to visit it each year.

According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of State Parks, Prince Gallitzin State Park hosted 2,033,886 visitors last year, making it third in the state as the most popular of the 121 parks.

What makes Prince Gallitzin so popular?

Those fishermen and boaters and swimmers and children and walkers and joggers just love to travel to Lake Glendale to enjoy the beauty and natural resources that were simply a dream 80 years ago.

It took a great deal of work and political arm-twisting, but the park became reality after being simply a pipe dream that started in the Great Depression.

A look at its history will help explain that.

History of the park

When the Great Depression hit starting and people were out of work, Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933 and started the U.S. in its recovery. He started programs like the Works Progress Administration [WPA] and the Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC].

During that time, the first discussions of a lake being constructed in the Patton/Glendale area,

During the 1930s, much of the area that is now Prince Gallitzin State Park was forested and laced with trout streams and beaver dams. The Pennsylvania Game Commission owned much of the land. The local economy was depressed and the population of the area was declining. It was in this atmosphere that the idea of a park was conceived.

During 1935, during the Great Depression, the National Park Service proposed to establish Recreation Demonstration Areas in Pennsylvania. A project was proposed and approved for this area, but was never implemented. The project proposal map is on file in the park office and has an uncanny resemblance to Prince Gallitzin State Park.

“History of Prince Gallitzin State Park,” Pennsylvania Department of

Conservation and Natural Resources [DCNR], current.

Dr. Goddard’s role

While that did not come to fruition, the idea did not die. A conservationist and environmentalist by the name of Dr. Maurice K. Goddard stepped in, and his influence brought the dream to reality.

Appointed as the first secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Forest and Waters, which became the Department of Environmental Resources and now the DCNR, and Goddard initiated the first steps,

During 1955, the Patton Chamber of Commerce and the Patton Sportsmen proposed a 30-acre dam in the Killbuck Area. During March of that same year, Dr. Maurice K. Goddard, Secretary of the Department of Forests and Waters, met with the Patton Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Goddard approved of the idea and from that beginning, the original concept rapidly expanded.

On April 4, 1957, Governor George M. Leader announced plans for “Pennsylvania’s largest and most complete state park” and land acquisition began. The park was to have a 1,760-acre lake and “provide the people of this State with the finest recreation facilities.”

Money derived from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, recently authorized by the state legislature, was to pay for the proposed two million dollar project. Secretary Goddard said, “No other areas that I have seen in the Commonwealth has this unique combination of characteristics. I predict we will be able to fulfill the desires of the Legislature much beyond their expectations in the development of this outstanding park.”

“History of Prince Gallitzin State Park,” DCNR, current.

Goddard wanted to ensure that every Pennsylvanian had access to a state park, and while that was difficult, he created 24 new parks during his tenure.

One of his first was Prince Gallitzin,

The park was one of Pennsylvania’s largest parks at the time. From July 8 to July 15, 1967, the park hosted the National Campers and Hikers Association convention. There were 26,500 people camped in the fields around Headache Hill. The convention brought national awareness to the park and Pennsylvania.

In April of 1970, Crooked Run Campground opened, the docks at Beaver Valley Marina opened, and the first seasonal park naturalist conducted lectures and walks.

Further improvements like the addition of hiking trails, cabins, and upgrades to facilities continue to make Prince Gallitzin one of the finest recreational facilities in Pennsylvania.

“History of Prince Gallitzin State Park,” Pennsylvania Department of

Conservation and Natural Resources [DCNR], current.

These are the 10 most popular Pennsylvania state parks

BY: CASSIE MILLER - JULY 23, 2020 6:30 AM

Pennsylvania is home to 121 state parks, spread across the commonwealth’s 67 counties. Think you know which ones cracked the top ten of Pennsylvania’s most visited parks?

Take a look at this list, based on data from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’s Bureau of State Parks.

1. Presque Isle State Park, ErieHome to Pennsylvania’s only seashore, this 3,200-acre state park borders Lake Erie. In 2019, it logged the highest attendance rate of any state park in Pennsylvania with 3,719,182 visitors!

2. Pymatuning State Park, JamestownComing in at number two is one of the largest state parks in the commonwealth! Pymatuning, located in Mercer County, is a whopping 16,892 acres and is home to the largest lake in the state – Pymatuning Reservoir. In 2019, the park boasted 2,410,245 visitors.

3. Prince Gallitzin State Park, Patton – Nestled into the forests of Cambria County, Prince Gallitzin is home to Glendale Lake, a favorite among boaters and anglers. In 2019, the park had 2,033,886 visitors.

4. Point State Park, Pittsburgh – Not only is Point a state park, it’s a National Historic Monument for its significance during the French and Indian War. The park sits in Pittsburgh’s “golden triangle”- the meeting place of the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. Last year, Point State Park logged 1,869,602 visitors.

5. Codorus State Park, Hanover – Just before the Maryland border in southern York County, lies Codorus State Park. Codorus has 26 miles of shoreline on Lake Marburg, and is a great place to see waterfowl and shorebirds. In 2019, Codorus had 1,299,826 visitors.

6. Nockamixon State Park, Quakertown – Located in Bucks County, Nockamixon features a lake, similar to four of the top five parks, called Lake Nockamixon. The park is a favorite for Philadelphia residents looking to get away for the day. Last year, the park had 1,252,527 visitors.

7. Moraine State Park, Portersville – Tucked into northwestern Pennsylvania’s Butler County is Moraine State Park. A lake now resides in the former coal and mineral mines of the area, allowing visitors to boat, fish and swim in the reimagined space. In 2019, the park had 1,203,685 visitors.

8. Tyler State Park, Newtown – Also located in Bucks County is Tyler State Park. The park follows the Neshaminy Creek through farm and woodland just 33 miles from Philadelphia. Last year, the park had 1,062,559 visitors.

9. Ridley Creek State Park, Media – Another park within day-trip-distance of Philadelphia is Ridley Creek State Park. The park is located in neighboring Delaware County. In 2019, Ridley Creek had 976,188 visitors.

10. Delaware Canal State Park, Upper Black Eddy – One of the smaller state parks in the system, Delaware Canal only occupies 830 acres, split between Bucks and Northamption counties. Here, visitors can take in the area’s rich history while following the towpath of the only remaining, intact canal of the early 19th century.

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