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Dauphin County - Fort Hunter Park

5300 N. Front St.
Harrisburg, PA 17110

(717)599-5188 Phone

Explore Fort Hunter Park!

Dauphin County - Fort Hunter Park - BEST Places to PicnicFort Hunter Park commands a magnificent view of the Susquehanna River and Blue Mountains beyond. It was originally settled in 1725 by Benjamin Chambers, who later founded Chambersburg. 

Samuel Hunter, Chamber's brother-in-law, inherited the well-favored property which included grist and saw mills. 

The bustling settlement thus became known as Hunter's Mill. Faced with the mounting threat of the French and Indian War, the British built a series of small forts from Harris Ferry (Harrisburg) to Fort Augusta in Sunbury.

Among these was Fort Hunter, ideally situated at a bend in the river, thereby serving as a alarm station and supply depot. The Fort was a 10' by 14' log blockhouse surrounded by a stockade and manned by volunteer soldiers, mostly farmers' sons.

In 1763, following the defeat of the Indian Nations, the Fort was left to decay. It was in 1787 that Captain Archibald McAllister, a dashing young officer who had served directly under General George Washington in the Revolutionary Army, bought the land including the abandoned Fort, Hunter's Mill, and farm.

Under his spirited leadership, McAllister's farm grew into a self-sufficient frontier village with grist and saw mills, country store, blacksmith shop, school, artisan's shops, a fine tavern and a most successful distillery. 

River landings permitted barges and other craft to anchor and the 1834 official opening of the Pennsylvania Canal encouraged a healthy trade.

Daniel Dick Boas, a prominent Harrisburg citizen, bought the property in 1870 and later willed it to his daughter Helen, and son-in-law, John W. Reily. For half a century the Reily dairy farm, graced with strutting peacocks and grazing sheep, was a familiar landmark and social center for Harrisburg.

As the Reilys had no children, they left the property to their nine nieces and nephews, One niece, Margaret Wister Meigs, of Washington, D.C. recognizing the historical significance of the site, had the foresight to buy the remaining shares and to establish the Fort Hunter Museum.

In 1956, Mrs. Meigs and her family set up the Fort Hunter Foundation and organized the Friends of Fort Hunter with its volunteer membership to initiate a restoration and education program. 

Presently, owned by the County of Dauphin and Board of Trustees for Fort Hunter, Fort Hunter Historic Park provides beautiful recreational facilities embracing the Mansion and estate-style grounds.

Facilities and Overview

Spectacularly located on a bluff overlooking the Susquehanna and Blue Mountain, Fort Hunter Park consists of about 50 acres. Donated in 1980 by the Meigs family, the park includes ten historic buildings, two picnic pavilions, two sets of playground equipment and a play field. 

The park offers a variety of programs and festivals throughout the year and the Mansion is open for guided tours.

Location

From US 22/322, exit onto Route 443 and proceed west 1/2 miles. Turn left onto Front Street. The park is located on both sides of Front Street.

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