Thaddeus Stevens

Thaddeus Stevens

The Cumberland Valley impressed Thaddeus Stevens, reminding him of the rural beauty of Danville, Vermont, where he was born in 1792. Later, when Stevens purchased land to begin an ironworks, he called it Caledonia because it reminded him of his boyhood home.

As a child, Stevens had a difficult life. His family struggled to make a living by farming. His father was an alcoholic and eventually left his family. His mother, Sarah, kept the family together and realized education was the way to give Thaddeus a better life.

Thaddeus and his brother were both born with club feet. For Thaddeus Stevens, his club foot gave him the experience of “being different.” Growing up poor gave him an understanding of struggle. Education raised him up and gave him a way to make his life better. Thaddeus Stevens never forgot this and became a proponent of giving people access to opportunity through education and through equality.

After graduating from Dartmouth College, Stevens began his career as a teacher in York, PA. He studied law in the evenings and became a lawyer. In 1833, Stevens was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In 1848, he was elected to Congress. He did not run in 1852 but ran and was re-elected in 1858 to Congress.

Throughout his years of service, he advocated repeatedly for equality of all.

Let’s Hike

Let’s Hike

Hiking – one of the most liberating and exhilarating recreational activities in which someone can take part. It adds a source of stress relief and the ability to isolate yourself in pure serenity. It can also help with building a sense of self-discipline as well as organization!

Did you know that this county contains a plethora of different parks and trails? Franklin County is a perfect place to be one with nature and explore. From Caledonia and Michaux State, to Cowans Gap State Park, to Mont Alto State Park, there are more than enough choices for a fantastic hiking experience.

When hiking, it is always important to be safe and build a checklist of essentials. Following are considerations for a short or longer hike.

Short Distance

  • Navigation Tools (Trail Maps/Compass)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Multi-Tool
  • Hydration Source (32 oz Water/Electrolyte Fluid)
  • Trail Food (Nutritional bars, jerky, nuts/grains, something carbohydrate dense/super foods)
  • Hiking Shoes/Boots or durable sneakers
  • Sun Protection
  • Utility pack for carrying essentials

Long Distance

  • All Items listed above
  • Fire Starting Source (Emergency Use)
  • Signaling Device
  • Light Source (Headlamp, Flashlight)
  • Repair Kit (Duct Tape, Paracord, Plastic bags, Etc.)
  • Increased hydration carrying capacity (64+ oz)
  • Increased trail food content

Here’s hoping everyone can soon be back to taking a hike in Franklin County. Now is a good time to be thinking about the gear you need and looking forward to traveling the trails of Franklin County.

Hiking Word Find

Girl Hiker Coloring Page

Story contributed by Evan Crider



Totem Pole Playhouse, America’s summer theatre, located in Caledonia State Park between Gettysburg and Chambersburg, PA will offer the largest production ever staged at the historic 69 yr. old Playhouse, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which is being produced by Theatre A Go-Go, Inc. as the fourth offering in the Playhouse’s new summer subscription series.

The show offers a happy-go-lucky view of small-town vice and statewide political side-stepping and recounts the demise of the Chicken Ranch, a brothel that has been operating outside of fictional Gilbert, Texas, for more than a century. It is under the proprietorship of Miss Mona Stangley, who is on good terms with the local sheriff, Ed Earl Dodd. Governors, senators, mayors, and even victorious college football teams frequent Miss Mona’s cozy bordello, that is until crusading television reporter, Melvin P. Thorpe, decides to make the illegal activity an issue causing political ramifications which force the place to be closed down. The 1982 film version starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds was one of the highest-grossing live-action musical films of the 1980s.

Branson, Missouri veteran performer, Miranda Jane stars as ‘Miss Mona’, the proprietress of the legendary “Chicken Ranch.”  Kristofer Holtz plays the Sheriff, ‘Ed Earl Dodd’ who watches over Miss Mona and her girls. J.R. Stuart, who played the larger than life Producer in Totem Pole’s 2017 production of The Drowsy Chaperone returns as ‘Melvin P. Thorpe’, the crusading television reporter. Shuga Henry plays, ‘Jewel,’ the housekeeper at the Chicken Ranch and Lee Merriman plays ‘the Governor’ who eventually orders the place shut down. Playing other supporting roles are Taylor Whidden as ‘Doatsy Mae,’ ‘Ed Riggs as Senator Wingwoah,’ Michael Krikorian as ‘Mayor Rufus Poindexter,’ Chris Cook as ‘C.J. Scruggs,’ and Michael Amoroso in the dual roles of ‘Edsel Mackey,’ the town’s newspaper editor and the guitar-playing ‘Bandleader’ who serves as the show’s narrator.

Playing the Aggie football players and various other ensemble roles are: Hank Von Kolnitz, Jeremy Weinstein, Connor McGarry, Taylor Wright, Jake Pedersen, Matthew Dant, Noah Ruebeck, Jack Leboeuf; playing Miss Mona’s girls and various other roles are: Lainee Hunter as ‘Angel,’  Katie Emery as ‘Shy,’ Jennifer Flohr as ‘Linda Lou,’ Caitlin Cremins as ‘Dawn,’ Mara Ranson as ‘Ginger,’ Annie Gagen as ‘Beatrice,’ Maria Albani-Cook as ‘Teddy Jo,’ Jenna Najjar as ‘Ruby Rae,’ Emma VanDeVelde ‘Eloise,’ and Haley Nachlas as ‘Durla.’

The remaining ensemble members who will also be playing a variety of parts are: Logan Cook, Rachel Kern, Bryton Zook, Kristine Neiman, and Andrew Zabetakis.

The production is directed by veteran Totem Pole director, David Caldwell, with choreography by Christine O’Grady, the pair who staged the Playhouse’s box-office record-breaking production of Mamma Mia! last season. Totem Pole’s Musical Director, Darren Server, leads the band and provides the show’s musical direction. Scenery is by Jonathan Dahn Robertson,

Lighting by Jeremy Mayo, Sound by Joseph Parisi and Luke Reed serves as the production’s Stage Manager.

As with each of its productions Totem Pole is offering half-price preview performances the first weekend of the show; Friday, August 2 at 8pm and Saturday, August 3 at 2pm and 8pm with all seats general admission and priced at $25.00. The production opens Sunday, August 4 at 2pm and continues through August 18th.

In addition to the three half-price previews, this summer, Totem Pole instituted a new “Date Night Special” with patrons offered 50% off a second pair of tickets when they purchase one pair at full-price.

Tickets and gift certificates are on sale now by calling the Totem Pole Playhouse Box Office Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (717) 352-2164.

Totem Pole Playhouse Presents Mamma Mia

Totem Pole Playhouse Presents Mamma Mia

Totem Pole Playhouse, America’s beloved summer theatre, located in Caledonia State Park between Chambersburg and Gettysburg, PA, has announced that the Playhouse’s production of the mega-hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia! set a new box office record for advance ticket sales in the Playhouse’s 68-year history. To date, over $280,000.00 in tickets have been sold putting the show on track to surpass last season’s box office record-breaking production of Million Dollar Quartet. Due to the high demand for tickets, Totem Pole is reopening the 42-seat Club Section in the rear of the historic theatre which was removed several seasons ago. Mamma Mia! will begin performances this Friday at 8PM and Saturday at 2PM and 8PM with three low cost $20.00 general admission previews followed by the official Opening Sunday afternoon at 2PM. The production is scheduled to run through August 19th, a week longer than the previous three shows in the summer season.

Set on a colorful Greek island, the plot centers on a 20-year old bride-to-be, Sophie, who while reading her mother’s diary discovers the names of three of her mother’s former partners, Sam, Harry, and Bill. She decides to invite all three to the wedding without telling her mother, Donna. Sophie is convinced that she will recognize which one of the men is her father once she meets them. Donna, who was once the lead singer of a musical group, “Donna and the Dynamos,” invites her two former back-up singers, Rosie and Tanya. They all descend on the quaint rustic hotel Donna operates only to end up at a wedding that none of them could have expected.

Emily Ashton Meredith, who starred in Totem Pole’s 2015 production of Shenandoah, returns as Sophie. Playing her mother, Donna, will be Amy Decker who previously appeared at the Playhouse in several shows, most recently last season’s The Drowsy Chaperone. The three fathers will be played by Gil Brady as Sam, Ken Allen Neely as Harry, and Shawn Martin, who starred in last season’s Irving Berlin Revue, I Love a Piano, as Bill. Alexandra Melrose and Erica Hanrahan-Ball will appear as Donna’s former back-up singers, Rosie and Tanya. Playing Sophie’s fiancé, Sky, will be Max Falls with Breanna Ogaldez playing Lisa and Camila Paquet playing Ali, Sophie’s best friends. Taylor Kellas Warren, who played the Pharaoh in the season opener, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, returns as Pepper, and Stavros Koumbaros, who starred in the 2016 production of Forever Plaid, will play Eddie. Rounding out the ensemble are: Leah Hassett, Mary Beth Donahoe, Morgan Southwell, Alison Rose Munn, Hank von Kolnitz, Elijah King, Nathan Richardson, and Cody Parson.

The production is staged and directed by veteran Totem Pole director, David Caldwell, and choreographed by Christine O’Grady, her fifth consecutive summer choreographing shows at the Playhouse. Darren Server, Totem Pole’s perennial musical director, serves in the same capacity for this final production in the Playhouse’s four-show summer season. Jim Fouchard, who has designed sets at the Playhouse since 1982, is the set designer, Stephanie Jones is designing costumes, Kate Wecker is the show’s sound designer, and Jonathan Dunkle is designing the lighting, with Ryan Gibbs serving as the show’s stage manager for the three-week run.

Mamma Mia! is based on the songs of ABBA, one of the most popular musical groups of all time, who topped the international pop charts during the 1970s and early 80s. The musical includes such well-known hits as “Super Trouper,” “Lay All Your Love on Me,” “Dancing Queen,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Money, Money, Money,” “The Winner Takes It All,” “Voulez-Vous,” “SOS,” and the title track. Over 60 million people have seen the show, which has grossed $2 billion worldwide since its 1999 debut in London. The film version of the musical starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan was released in 2008 and a prequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, opened in movie theatres nationwide last weekend.

Single ticket reserved seat prices are $50.00 with $35.00 tickets available for groups of 10 or more. Groups of 30 or more pay half-price at just $25.00 a ticket.

Club section tickets are only available by calling the Totem Pole Playhouse Box Office Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (717) 352-2164; all other seats may be purchased on line at

Stay On The Move in Franklin County With the New FCVB Rec Guide

Stay On The Move in Franklin County With the New FCVB Rec Guide

Franklin County Visitors Bureau announces the release of its newest publication On the Move in Franklin County, featuring year-long recreation for the whole family.

The guide, available in print and in the publications sections of the website, features year-long fun including skydiving, golfing, visiting the local environmental centers, fly-fishing, tennis, yoga, hydrotherapy floats, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, swimming and much more!

Situated in the heart of the beautiful Cumberland Valley, Franklin County compliments four-seasons of outdoor enjoyment. It is home to two national trails— the Appalachian Trail and the Tuscarora Trail, four PA State Parks and the lands of two state forests. Topping off the plentiful state and national trail options are more than three dozen municipal and local recreation areas throughout Franklin County. Whether seeking a family-friendly day of connecting with nature, taking to a quiet trail or meeting an intense outdoor challenge, Franklin County is the spot.

The guide’s release, in late November, is done in perfect time to highlight some of the winter highlights of the region during the colder months, including the beautiful hiking trails.

Franklin County contains all or part of four state parks, including Mont Alto State Park and Caledonia State Park, which are the oldest existing parks in the state. These parks are at the heart of the Pennsylvania conservation efforts and the forest lands are tied to Joseph Trimble Rothrock, the first Pennsylvania Forestry Commissioner, who was an advocate for conservation and helped found the Mont Alto Forestry School, now Penn State Mont Alto.

Other local parks and forests that have beautiful views for hiking includes Buchanan Birthplace State Park, where a large monument for Mercersburg-native and former President James Buchanan stands as well as nearly 19 acres of forest. Enjoy ice-skating, ice fishing and cross-country skiing on the lake at Cowans Gap State Park in the snowy months.

Michaux State Forest in the east, Buchanan State Forest in the west and Tuscarora State Forest in central Franklin County, all have a wide variety of beautiful trees to see while hiking and enjoying nature in all seasons.

Winter is a great time to hit the trails of Whitetail Resort on skis, snowboards or even by snow tube! The resort, located in Two Top Mountain in the Tuscarora Mountains in Mercersburg, has 23 different trails from beginner hills to more advanced trails. Whitetail has gone through several renovations over the years, including longer trails, lighting on terrain for night skiing, halfpipe, a terrain park and snow tubing park with 10 lanes.

On the Move joins the seven yearly specialty publications that the Franklin County Visitors Bureau produces in their mission to promote the county, including the Franklin County Visitors Guide, Military Trail of History Guide, Fresh Food & Dining Guide, Franklin County Wedding & Event Planner and more!