kids encyclopedia robot

William Penn State Forest facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
William Penn State Forest
Pennsylvania State Forest
Ruth Zimmerman Natural Area (3).jpg
Antietam Creek in the Ruth Zimmerman Natural Area of William Penn State Forest in Berks County.
Named for: William Penn
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
Counties Chester, Delaware, Lancaster
Elevation 239 ft (72.8 m)
Coordinates 39°43′26″N 76°06′04″W / 39.72389°N 76.10111°W / 39.72389; -76.10111
Area 901 acres (365 ha)
Founded January, 1935
Management Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
IUCN category Managed Resource Protected Area (IUCN VI)

William Penn State Forest is a Pennsylvania State Forest in Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry District #17. The main offices are located in Elverson in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the United States.

The forest is named for William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. It was originally named "Valley Forge State Forest", for the camp at Valley Forge in the American Revolutionary War. Valley Forge State Park was the first state park in Pennsylvania, and the headquarters of the state forest were located there as well. The state park was transferred to the National Park Service and became a federal park in 1976 for the American Bicentennial. The state forest retained the Valley Forge name for thirty one years.

After the July 1, 2005, realignment of Pennsylvania State Forest Districts, what was then Valley Forge State Forest and District #17 acquired the northern parts of Berks and Lehigh Counties from Weiser State Forest and District #18. In August 2007, "In a bid to eliminate public confusion over the name of the federal park and the state forest district, the Bureau of Forestry renamed the Valley Forge State Forest District in honor of one of Pennsylvania's first conservationists -- William Penn."

William Penn State Forest is located on 901 acres (365 ha) in six tracts: 10 acres (4 ha) in Lancaster County; 200 acres (81 ha) on Little Tinicum Island in the Delaware River in Delaware County; and 602 acres (244 ha) of the Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens in Chester County. Also included are the David R. Johnson Natural Area in Bucks County and the Gibraltar Hill and George W. Wertz Tracts in Berks County. District #17 also includes Berks, Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia counties.


William Penn State Forest was formed as a direct result of the depletion of the forests of Pennsylvania that took place during the mid-to-late 19th century. Conservationists like Dr. Joseph Rothrock became concerned that the forests would not regrow if they were not managed properly. Lumber and iron companies had harvested the old-growth forests for various reasons. The clear cut the[clarify] forests and left behind nothing but dried tree tops and rotting stumps. The sparks of passing steam locomotives ignited wildfires that prevented the formation of second growth forests. The conservationists feared that the forest would never regrow if there was not a change in the philosophy of forest management. They called for the state to purchase land from the lumber and iron companies and the lumber and iron companies were more than willing to sell their land since that had depleted the natural resources of the forests. The changes began to take place in 1895 when Dr. Rothrock was appointed the first commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters, the forerunner of today's Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a piece of legislation in 1897 that authorized the purchase of "unseated lands for forest reservations." This was the beginning of the State Forest system.

The first parcel of land that became William Penn State Forest was acquired in 1935 when the state bought 10 acres (4 ha) of land in Lancaster County from the heirs of the Cornwall Iron Furnace fortunes. The first 10 acres (40,000 m2) contained the Cornwall fire tower which was built in 1923. The second land acquisition did not take place until November 1982 when Little Tinicum Island in the Delaware River was purchased at a cost of $100,000. In December 1982 a second tract of land was purchased. The Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens, consisting of 602 acres (244 ha), were purchased for $239,500 with financial aid from the Nature Conservancy. Both Little Tinicum Island and the Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens are home to unique ecological habitats.

Neighboring state forest districts

The U.S. states of New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland are to the east, south and southwest, respectively

Nearby state parks

Although no state parks are located within William Penn State Forest, there are fifteen state parks in District #17:

kids search engine
William Penn State Forest Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.