Just east of the Tuscarora Trail in Franklin County lies an 18.5-acre state park known as Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park. This heavily forested park has picnic areas and a stream, Buck Run, known for its native trout population. But this pocket of land also hides a unique monument to one of the most reviled presidents in United States History.
Here, you’ll find a 31-foot-tall pyramid built on the site where James Buchanan, the country’s 15th president, was born. The monument was built from locally quarried stones and made to look rustic.
Buchanan was born at the site in a log cabin. Back then, his father owned the property, which was called Stony Batter. It was a small hub for frontier activities and commerce, and included a smattering of dwellings, barns, and stores.
Buchanan lived at Stony Batter until he was six. He later grew up to become one the 15th president of the United States (single term by choice), during which time his influence was instrumental in the Dred Scot case (which ruled that anyone of African descent, enslaved or free, did not qualify for American citizenship), and immediately preceeded the civil war, which was referred to by some as Buchanan’s war. He was also the only president to have never been married, and upon transfer of presidency to Lincoln, ran back to Lancaster with his tail between his legs, telling Lincoln “If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland [his estate near Lancaster, Pennsylvania], you are a happy man.”
Interestingly, the park was the first land donation in Pennsylvania to be turned into a park.
Know Before You Go
The park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.