Cumberland Valley boasts historic attractions

Eddie Applefield

Recently I made my first trip to Carlisle, Pa., n the area called the Cumberland Valley. The borough of Carlisle was founded in 1751 as George Washington selected the site for the army’s first arsenal and school. One of the most famous citizens was Olympic champion Jim Thorpe, who was a student at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

The area is well known for its car shows and for Dickinson College. The college was chartered in 1783 and was the first college in the United States to be chartered after the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War. I suggest a stroll on campus.

Some of the attractions in the town include the Major General John Armstrong House, the Old Graveyard, St. Patrick Church & Cemetery, the Old Prison, the Blaine House and the High Street Train Station.

One of the key attractions is the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center, the army’s primary historical facility, formed in 1999.  It consists of the U.S. Army Military History Institute, Army Heritage Museum and the Army War College. One of its missions is to purchase or accept donations of relevant contemporary and historical materials. There is a visitor center that serves to welcome and orient visitors with 7,000 square-feet of exhibit space and a store.  

Since 1974 Carlisle has been hosting collector car and truck events at the fairgrounds. They can include special vehicle displays, auction, parts vendors, demos, stunt shows, music, special guests and kids’ events. One big event is the Spring Carlisle Collector Car Swap and Corral. It can have as many as 8,000 vending spaces and 2,000 cars for sale and auction.  The Ford Nationals can have as many as 3,000 vehicles, mainly Fords, Mercurys and Lincolns. The Chrysler Nationals can produce include 2,700 vehicles from all eras of the Chrysler product line.

Not to be overlooked is the extremely popular Corvette Show, touted as the largest event of its kind in the world. It can show upwards of 5,000 cars. I didn’t go this year but I had friends who did. They sent me pictures and I couldn’t believe the enormity of the event. I think I’ll go next year.  I don’t have a Corvette but I want to experience this show just once.   

For lodging I recommend the Comfort Suites on South Hanover Street. There are 105 suites, a fitness and business center, and a complimentary hot breakfast. There is also a very fine restaurant, 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion.  

Small towns close by worth a look include Boiling Springs and Shippensburg. Carlisle webFor more information on the Cumberland Valley, call 888-513-5130 or go to           

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