Tourism: Historical Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania

Historical Burnt Cabins, Pennsylvania
by Danielle M. Angeline

Over the river and through the woods, beyond the Maryland State line and off Route 76, lies one of many gateways to America's history. Once known as "Westsylvania," Fulton County, Pennsylvania originally belonged to the Iroquois. In the early 1740's, as settlers moved westward, many established residency at the foot of a high peak, which they named Sydney's Knob. Sydneysville, as it became known, grew with the assembly of eleven log cabin homes. Since the land still "belonged" to the native people, Chief Canassatego complained to Governor James Hamilton in 1744 about the unauthorized settlers and how they disturbed the hunting and the land. Government representatives were sent, demanding the settlers to vacate. Only a select few obeyed the orders while other settlers only pretended to pack and move on. Once the governor's representative was gone, they returned to the land, reclaiming their frontier life.
Later, in May of 1750, troops were sent again, this time under the leadership of Benjamin Chambers and George Crogan along with the delegates of the six Nations (Seneca, Oneida, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga and Tuscarora) and interpreter Andrew Montour to remove the unlawful tenants. Provincial forces ordered the settlers to remove their families, cattle, and belongings before the cabins were burned by order of the state government.
By 1767, Dublin Township wherein Burnt Cabins lies, was the second oldest township in Fulton County after Ayr Township. When settlers began to arrive again, they changed the name of Sydneysville to Burnt Cabins in memory of the first settlers. Several years later, John Burd was given a land grant, where he built a hotel, a trading post and the first grist mill--a mill that grinds grain--that provided waterpower. Unfortunately, the mill was destroyed in 1840 but was rebuilt by Frederick Dubbs. Other mill owners through the Grist Mill history include such family name as Freaker, Kelly & Keebaugh, and three generations of Baldwins. Currently, the mill is owned by the Blattenbergers.
The Burnt Cabins Grist Mill is a place to ignite one's senses and experience a part of our forefathers' history stretching back hundreds of years. Ye Olde Mill Campground is open from April 15 through November 15, annually, with thirty-two available campsites that include today's modern conveniences such as electrical and water hookups, cable TV, flush toilets and hot showers.
The real treat is that visitors can see the Mill in operation and meet the Master Miller as he narrates a tour that will entertain and educate. A detailed description of how grains are milled into flour is demonstrated by the use of the Mill's twelve-foot overshoot wooden water wheel located inside the Mill. The flow of water over the wheel turns the bull gear and powers the buhrstones that grind the grains. These wooden and iron gears are still in excellent working condition.
Products generated at Grist Mill are available for sale including cornmeal, buckwheat, whole wheat, and rye flour. A variety of pancake and waffle mixes plus all-natural syrups are also available for shipping. It is noted that no preservatives are added to any products.
The Burnt Cabins Grist Mill owner, John Blattenberger, invites you to not only visit during the summer but to return during the Annual Fulton Fall Folk Festival the third weekend of October, as there will be many activities to enjoy throughout Fulton County.
Group tours are available by appointment and can be scheduled by calling Burnt Cabins, PA at 717-987-3244. The Fulton County Website: www.fultoncountypa.com or the Fulton County contact Anita Mellott at fultoncountypa@earthlink.net.
Directions to this historical gateway is as follows: North or South take Route 522, enter Fulton County, follow signage to campground. East or West: Take Route 30, at McConnellsburg exit, take Route 522 North to Burnt Cabins (12 miles).