Great outdoors! Great history! Great entertainment! Great relaxation! Your great moments are waiting in Franklin County. Let the Franklin County Visitor’s Bureau help you plan your visit to the beautiful Cumberland Valley.

Totem Pole Playhouse Opens For 66th Season

Totem Pole Playhouse is Pennsylvania’s premiere summer theatre located in Caledonia State Park on the Lincoln Highway, midway between Chambersburg and Gettysburg PA. Doors open on May 17 with a special pre-season, eight-show run of Lovesick Blues. Robbie Limon and Denise Patton bring the greatest hits of Hank Williams Sr. and Patsy Cline to Totem Pole in this tribute show. Running until May 22, the show is sponsored by Paul Orange, MD

Emmy Award-winning actress Loretta Swit, well-known for her portrayal of M*A*S*H’s Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, is starring in the opening show of Totem Pole’s 66th summer season, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, a touching comedy. Starring opposite Ms. Swit is David Engel, a veteran of numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and a six-time Los Angeles Ovation Award winner. The comedy revolves around a formidable retired woman living in St. Petersburg, FL, who hires a much-younger, acerbic dance instructor to give her dance lessons – one per week for six weeks. What begins as an antagonistic relationship blossoms into a beautiful friendship while dancing the Tango, Waltz, Swing, Foxtrot, Cha-Cha, and Contemporary Dance. Michael Bloom, who ran the Tony Award-winning Cleveland Playhouse for 10 years, will direct the production. The comedy will run at the playhouse from May 27 through June 12. The show is sponsored by M & T Bank and Ludwick Eye Center.

One of the most successful musicals in Totem Pole’s history, Forever Plaid, will return June 17 through July 3, in an all-new production directed and choreographed by Christine O’Grady.  The show features such 1950s classics as: “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Heart and Soul,” “Moments to Remember,” “Perfidia,” and “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.” Forever Plaid is being produced by Theatre A Go-Go, Inc. and is sponsored by Edward Jones and Richards Orthopaedic Center.

Los Angeles actress, Betsy Randle, who played Amy Matthews, the mom from the long-running 1990s ABC television series “Boy Meets World” will play the mother of the bride in comedian and actor Lewis Black’s new stage comedy, “One Slight Hitch.” Joining her as the father of the bride will be veteran TV actor, Granville Van Dusen. The bride-to-be is set to marry a conservative, straight-laced, all-American guy when her recent, long-time, free-spirited college boyfriend shows up at the front door apparently unaware of the day’s significance and refuses to go away. Rand Foerster, a long-time collaborator of Mr. Black’s will direct the play which also features New York actor and Chambersburg native, Jonathan Cable. The comedy is PG-13 for its subject matter, runs July 8 to July 24 and is sponsored by F&M Trust.

Totem Pole’s Producing Artistic Director Rowan Joseph will star in the Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Shane Partlow will co-star. Joseph and Partlow competed on Emmy Award-winning CBS reality series “The Amazing Race.” A non-stop laugh-fest, Forum is a joyous musical romp through Ancient Rome filled with desperate lovers, scheming neighbors, a bevy of beautiful courtesans, and secrets behind every toga. Totem Pole veteran and audience favorite, Paris Peet, will also star in the musical comedy opposite New York actress, Becky Barta. The show will run from July 29 through August 14 and is sponsored by the law firm of Walker, Connor & Spang.

For the fourth year in a row the Franklin County Visitor’s Bureau is the sponsor of the entire 2016 summer season. Tickets can be purchased online at www.totempoleplayhouse.org or by calling the playhouse’s box office Monday through Friday, 9 AM-4 PM, at 717-352-2164.

FCVB & Capitol Theatre announce the return of Acappella & Unplugged

Take a chance at winning $500 when the Franklin County Visitors Bureau and the Capitol Theatre team up again to bring back Acappella & Unplugged as part of 1864 Weekend.

Returning after the success of last year, auditions for the popular vocal competition will be held June 1 from 6pm to 8pm and June 2 from 8pm to 10pm at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Chambersburg.

Performers of all ages are invited to audition and can be solo or groups with vocals or unplugged instrumental. Those auditioning are asked to be able to carry their instruments on stage, and that it does not require electricity. Microphones will be provided. Acts must be appropriate for a variety of ages and be celebratory – lively and inspiring, something that will make the audience come to life. There is also a $10 entry fee per group.

Last year, nearly 30 competitors performed before judges during the audition stages, including a barbershop quartet, a sibling group, local singers and even a performer from Lebanon County. Last year’s winners, sibling duo Taylor Piper and Kristopher Potter, took home the $500 grand prize and performed in front of the crowd gathered for the 1864: The Burning light show.

Over the past five years, 1864–the light show and story of the ransoming, burning and rebirth of Chambersburg – attracted thousands of visitors. It showed the local events that were part of national history. Moving out of the 150th commemoration of the Civil War, celebrating the people, who rebuilt Chambersburg, is a main focus. The musical competition is a way of celebrating those people and their incredible spirit.

Top performers from the audition will be invited to perform and compete in Acappella & Unplugged ROUND 1 on June 25 at 7 p.m. on stage at the Capitol Theatre, where a panel of judges will select the top six acts.
From here, ROUND 2 will be public voting. Beginning Monday, June 27 at noon, friends, family and the general public can vote by liking the act on the Franklin County Visitors Bureau Facebook page –www.Facebook.com/FCVBen.
Voting for these finalists will go on until July 13, when the top three will be invited to perform on the courthouse steps the evening of July 16 as part of the festivities leading up to the “1864: The Burning” light show.

After the performance, the winner will be selected by tabulating in-person votes and Facebook votes. The act with the most votes wins the $500 grand prize.

All previous year’s participants, except the winning performers, are invited to return to Acappella & Unplugged 2016.

To register to audition, participants can register through Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-cappella-unplugged-auditions-tickets-24778128048.









Historic Martin’s Mill Covered Bridge Reopens in Southern Franklin County

Since the early 1700s, Franklin County PA was America’s frontier, and one of the earliest families to settle along this part of the frontier was the Johnston family. Dr. Robert Johnston was the original owner of the tract of land on which Martins mill bridge is located. Dr Johnston served as a surgeon in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, where he befriended George Washington. In fact, when Washington was on his way to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, Dr Johnston entertain him along with Alexander Hamilton at his home in Greencastle.

Years later, a subsequent owner of the land, Samuel Martin, built a sawmill and grist mill on the land along the Conococheague Creek. Martins mill bridge was constructed to replace a creek fording, which became impossible to cross when the creek’s water was high. Bridges in Franklin County PA are the responsibility of the county, so the Franklin County Commissioners  contracted Jacob Shirk to construct the bridge in 1848. The wood used to construct the bridge was sawed at the Martins Mill, hence the name Martin’s Mill Bridge.

The trusses of the bridge use the design of Ithiel Town, a Connecticut architect who popularized the use of a truss consisting of a lattice of heavy timber with each crisscrossing intersection pinned with a minimum of two, 2-inch diameter wooden pins. Such construction could bear a span of up to 200 feet without additional support. The Martin’s Mill Bridge is 205 feet. Bridge constructor Jacob Shirk wanted to assure sturdy construction and added a stone support halfway across the bridge.

Martin’s Mill Bridge was nearly swept away by the Conococheague Creek in June 1972 when Hurricane Agnes created powerful floodwaters. Local engineering firm Nassaux Hemsley and hydraulic crane construction company Grove Manufacturing work together on the reconstruction. Adding the labor of local volunteers, the US Army 377th Engineer Battalion, and the US Army 357 transportation company made the reconstruction of Martin’s Mill bridge possible. It was rededicated in June 1973.

The bridge was recently rededicated in mid-October after a fourth renovation was completed. The process of planning and funding the fourth renovation began in 2007. Total cost to renovate Martin’s Mill Bridge was $1.1 of which $700,000 was allocated from the Federal Highway Administration Covered Bridge Preservation Program, according to a Antrim Township documents.  The project was directed by P. Joseph Lehman Inc. Consulting Engineers of Hollidaysburg, PA. Work included installation of a steel support beam, new siding and portals, replacement of the roof, replacement of decayed wooden structural pieces, and staining.

Martin’s Mill Bridge is one of two covered bridges in Franklin County with the another– Witherspoon Bridge–located near Mercersburg PA. Martins Mill Bridge is the second largest covered bridge in the state of Pennsylvania and the largest lattice truss bridge. It is included on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge is located at Martin’s Mill Bridge Park, which includes picnic tables, grills a pavilion, restroom facilities and access to the Conococheague Creek for kayaking. It is a dawn to dusk facility.

Student Life in Franklin County

Submitted by Colleen Hoover


I have attended school in the Franklin County area since I was three years old. Starting with pre-school at a local church in Waynesboro, PA to attending middle school and high school in Chambersburg, undertaking dual enrollment classes at Wilson College (while still in high school) to ending my long journey by achieving my Bachelors of Business at Shippensburg University.

There are so many countless opportunities that lie within the area, especially for someone like me that did not want to move away from home while going to college. Even if you aren’t eligible for the college life yet, the school districts around the region are one-of-a-kind. The Chambersburg Area Senior High School or otherwise known as CASHS is where I have made all my memories as a young teen. Other great schools are Greencastle, Waynesboro and Mercersburg Academy.

The colleges that surround Franklin County would be Penn State Mon Alto, Wilson College and Shippensburg University. Some of the smaller and further distance ones would be Harrisburg Area Community College and Hagerstown Community College. All of which are great options and so many to choose from. We are in such a great location with many of these schools right at our fingertips.

As I finish out my last year of college at Shippensburg University, I look back on the many years I have spent here in this beautiful town and realize all the wonderful memories I have made. I also come to appreciate all the knowledge I have gained without moving hundreds of miles away to achieve it.

Trail Riding in Franklin County

Submitted by Colleen Hoover

Riding in Franklin County’s majestic mountains on the back of a horse is absolutely breath taking. Franklin County has many options for riding one of the most popular is Caledonia State Park: Michaux Forest which is part of the Appalachian Trail.  A few other locations such as Steel House Hollow in which you can see across several valleys and Tea Berry trail (a part of South Mountain).

Located close to Franklin County is Gettysburg which gives a historical riding experience.  It’s just magical being able to ride right through Pickets Charge, Devils Den and close to the Eisenhower farm.   Another option is Rail-for-trails which was created to have a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines. This is a very popular riding trail.  There are many versatile trails in Franklin County for you to choose from.

My family and I have ridden in many other locations but Franklin County is one of our favorites simply because of the beautiful mountain trials and scenery.




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