The Conservation Fund transfers historic Pennsylvania Underground Railroad Site to Susuqehanna NHA
THE CONSERVATION FUND TRANSFERS HISTORIC PENNSYLVANIA UNDERGROUND RAILROAD SITE TO SUSQUEHANNA NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA
Permanently preserved 87-acre Mifflin House and farmstead near Wrightsville in York County will be the home of the future Susquehanna Discovery Center & Heritage Park
Wrightsville, PA (December 15, 2023) — The Conservation Fund (TCF), a leading nonprofit in U.S. land and water protection, has transferred ownership of a property that played a key role in the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania to the Susquehanna National Heritage Area (SNHA). The historic Mifflin House and 87-acre farmstead had been under threat of demolition and development before TCF acquired it in 2022. Now it will serve as the future home of the Susquehanna Discovery Center & Heritage Park, with the Susquehanna National Heritage Area making initial public access improvements to the property in 2024. Susquehanna National Heritage Area will continue to fundraise to support the acquisition and development of the site.
The Mifflin House, located in Hellam Township in York County, was an important stop on the Underground Railroad in the 1800s, serving as a safe haven for freedom seekers passing through central Pennsylvania. With the assistance of the Mifflin family, their fellow Quakers, and other local Black and white residents, those escaping slavery found a safe place to rest and cross the Susquehanna River on their journey north.
“Preserving the Mifflin House is not just about protecting a physical structure; it’s about honoring the stories and contributions of those who came before us,” said Kyle Shenk, Northeast Regional Director at TCF. “We are proud to have played a role in ensuring that this important piece of history remains a source of inspiration and education for generations to come.”
The site’s permanent preservation showcases the power of partnerships in preserving our nation’s history, involving a years-long collaborative effort between The Conservation Fund, Susquehanna National Heritage Area, Preservation Pennsylvania, community stakeholders, local foundations, state agencies, and local, state and federal elected officials.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Mifflin House into the Susquehanna National Heritage Area family,” said Mark Platts, President of Susquehanna National Heritage Area. “This acquisition aligns seamlessly with our mission to connect the people and communities of Lancaster and York Counties to one another and to the nation through stories about this nationally important place. We look forward to working with the community to ensure the Mifflin House continues to be a beacon of cultural significance for generations to come.”
The Conservation Fund and Susquehanna National Heritage Area extend their gratitude to all partners, supporters, and the local community for their dedication to the preservation of the Mifflin House and farmstead. Preservation Pennsylvania led early efforts to highlight the importance of the Mifflin site and hold off development through public awareness and legal challenges. The late Tim Kinsley, through Kinsley Properties, facilitated the transaction with the Blessing Family to allow time for TCF and SNHA to raise funds and purchase the property at a bargain sale. Funding for the project was made possible by the PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources C2P2 Program, County of York through its Open Space & Land Preservation Grant Program and other discretionary funds, PA Department of Community & Economic Development through ARPA funding and a state gaming grant to Wrightsville Borough, and generous local foundations, including the Powder Mill Foundation, Arthur J. & Lee R. Glatfelter Foundation and J. Wm. Warehime Foundation.
With acquisition now complete, Susquehanna National Heritage Area will begin a multi-year planning, design, fundraising, and development effort with the community to transform the Mifflin site into The Susquehanna Discovery Center & Heritage Park.
About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund protects the land that sustains us all. We are in the business of conservation, creating innovative solutions that drive nature-based action in all 50 states for climate protection, vibrant communities and sustainable economies. We apply effective strategies, efficient financing approaches, and enduring government, community and private partnerships to protect millions of acres of America’s natural land, cultural sites, recreation areas and working forests and farms. To learn more, visit www.conservationfund.org.
About Susquehanna National Heritage Area
The Susquehanna National Heritage Area is a designated State and National Heritage Area focused on preserving, interpreting, and sharing the natural, cultural, and historic resources of Lancaster and York Counties and their shared landscape along the Susquehanna River. Through collaborative efforts, the National Heritage Area seeks to celebrate the region’s history and foster a deeper appreciation for its unique communities and landscapes.