Franklin County Visitors Bureau Sets Spring Into History Tour: Social Struggles & An Emerging Nation

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Slavery, the Underground Railroad, John Brown, and the Civil War tested America by pushing it to consider its values and the meaning of freedom. Join the Franklin County Visitors Bureau for a Franklin County Freedom Tour: Social Struggles & An Emerging Nation.

April 16 tour is 9:30 AM to 4 PM

Social Struggles & An Emerging Nation is a Franklin County Freedom Tour.

Franklin County's proximity to the Mason Dixon Line catalyzed significant chapters of American history.

Chapters of American history played out across Franklin County. The county's proximity to the Mason-Dixon Line catalyzed significant chapters of American history, impacted residents’ sentiments, and even brought war to their door steps.

The tour begins at the Chambersburg Heritage Center 100 Lincoln Way East Chambersburg where Franklin County's architectural, transportation, frontier, Underground Railroad, and Civil War history are portrayed. Highlighting this stop is the larger-than-life, 8-ft. tall and gold-leafed statue if Benjamin Franklin, which formerly sat atop the Franklin County courthouse. Also, a nearly full-sized replica biplane hangs from the ceiling of the Heritage Center to honor the first flight over Franklin County in 1911.

Next stop is the Franklin County Old Jail, constructed in 1818 and serving as Franklin County jail until 1970. Inside learn about crime and punishment in the 1800s, explore dungeons and cell blocks, and see the cell that held John Cook, one of John Brown’s raiders, who was ultimately hanged for his participation in the raid on Harpers Ferry.

A few doors down from the Old Jail is the Mary Ritner Boarding House, often referred to as the John Brown House. It is the place where abolitionist John Brown spent several months in the summer of 1859 receiving supplies and recruiting for his raid on Harpers Ferry. It served as the northern headquarters of John Brown's Raid and is a National Park Service Network to Freedom site.

Travel to Greencastle PA and enjoy lunch. Afterwards, head to Allison Antrim Museum on South Ridge Avenue in Greencastle. It is the former home of Alexander Irwin and is a Pennsylvania Civil War Trails site, offering an exceptional view of the history leading up to the Civil War. In its collection is an authentic iron slave collar, once worn around the neck of a slave named Ben. It is a tangible artifact of the cruelty of slavery. Also included in the museum collection are signatures from former PA governors, paintings by African American artist Walter Washington Smith, and a display of Civil War artifacts. The area is the main artery for the invasion of the north during the Gettysburg Campaign.

Final stop on Social Struggles in an Emerging Nation is the Middleburg Mason-Dixon Historical Society, which works to retain the history of the area and preserve objects of the area's heritage. Earl’s Store in State Line serves as the site for the tour, where newspapers and an old community photographs are displayed along with a variety of artifacts. The community was originally called Spiglersburg in 1812. It was officially named State Line in 1830 and saw both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War, including Generals Lee and AP Hill.

Social Struggles & An Emerging Nation is one of four Spring into History Tours that will take place on April 16th. Details are available at

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau invites all to explore Franklin County PA and enjoy the trails of history, arts and architecture, recreation, natural beauty, fresh foods and the warm hospitality of communities like Chambersburg, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Shippensburg, and Waynesboro. Franklin County PA is located just north of the Mason Dixon Line and is an easy drive to Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Discover more... plan a visit soon at or by contacting 866-646-8060.

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Janet Pollard

Lauren Cappuccio
Ben Franklin
since: 04/2013
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