Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites the public to 1864—a living history portrayal and celebration of the Rebirth of Chambersburg—on July 17, 2021. Nearly 157 years ago, on July 30, 1864, General John McCausland and 2,800 Confederate cavalrymen ransomed Chambersburg for $100,000 in gold or $500,000 in Yankee currency. Chambersburg could not pay the ransom and the town was fired, leaving more than 500 structures in ashes and 2,000 people without homes. Yet, Chambersburg grew out of the ashes of destruction and is once again a thriving community in southcentral Pennsylvania.

“Since the first 1864 event, a common question is: why celebrate a town’s burning?” said Janet Pollard, Executive Director of Franklin County Visitors Bureau, the organization responsible for the annual event. Pollard explained, “1864 celebrates the rebirth of the town and the spirit of the people, who brought Chambersburg to life.”

1864 began as a kick-off event for Civil War 150 in 2011. Partnering with nearby Gettysburg PA, Franklin County highlighted its significant Civil War history. Over the past ten years, the event continued to grow as a celebration of the spirit of people and community.

Join in celebrating the Rebirth of Chambersburg on July 17 with a full day.

  • Old Market Day Street Festival, 9AM – 4 P M, throughout downtown Chambersburg with more than 125 craft, food, and art vendors plus music.
  • Puppet fun and fan-making for kids at 11/30 Visitors Center, 9 AM – 4 PM
  • Civil War Walking Tours, 11 AM – 5 PM, at the 11/30 Visitors Center – FREE
  • “Tourist in My Town” Exhibit at Chambersburg Council for the Arts, 103 N. Main, 9 AM-4PM
  • A Conversation with Grandmother Edna: Fabric Art & Storytelling, 1 PM at the 11/30 Visitors Center, followed by a chance to make a little fabric art – FREE.
  • Pre-Burning Activities – 6 PM – 7 PM- FREE glow-in-the-dark temporary tattoos, face painting, photos with cast of 1864 Ransoming, Burning & Rebirth, children’s activities.
  • PA Army Reserve Rock Climbing Wall, next to 11/30 Visitors Center, 5:30 PM-8 PM.
  • Jim Rada, author & historian, 11/30 Visitors Center, 5:30 PM-8PM
  • A Cappella & Unplugged Finals, 7 PM – Final round of the A Cappella & Unplugged competition with winner announced just after 8 PM
  • 1864 Ransoming, Burning & Rebirth Light Show- 8:45 PM – The re-enactment and light show done completely with atmospheric effects, lights, and actors! Join the thousands that gather to watch as the town is transported back to 1864 and history comes to life.