The Conococheague Institute is a hands-on regional learning center. We are headquartered within Rock Hill Farm, a well-preserved historic farmstead that was established in the early 18th century in southern Franklin County, Pennsylvania, near the village of Welsh Run. Our 30-acre site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes two historic house museums with outbuildings, a research library, two relocated historic log structures, walking trails with access to a pioneer cemetery, and several historic gardens.
The mission of the Conococheague Institute is to develop and foster awareness, understanding, and stewardship of the cultural and natural history of the Appalachian frontier of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The Institute strives to achieve its mission through education, research, and preservation.
The name 'Conococheague Institute' symbolizes our focus on the early 18th Century, when the area was referred to as the Conococheague Settlement, (from the important waterway that gave the region its identity).
Throughout the centuries it has been spelled Canigotschik, Conecocheague, Conegocheek, Conegocheige, Conegochiegh, Conegoge, Conegogee, Conegogeek, Conigochego, Conigotoschick, Conijachola, Connatachequa, Connogocheague, Conocochego, Cunnaquachegue, Cunnatachegue, Cunnatichegue, and Guneukitschik.
In the Lenape language it is translated as 'Water of many turns' and it is phonetically pronounced as 'KAH-no-KAH-cheek'.
From 16,000 B.C.E to the 1700's C.E the land was inhabited by Susquehannoks, Shawnees, Lenni Lenape (Delawares) and tribes that made up the Six Nations (Iroquois). Numerous archaeology finds have shown extensive evidence of this rich cultural heritage, as the area was primarily a hunting and transportation corridor for tribes moving north and south.
Now is a great time to visit the Conococheague Institute. With over 30 acres of a remote rural landscape, you can escape the crowds and enjoy nature's beauty. For Birding enthusiasts, our viewing platform over our wetlands area contains a wealth of healthy bird species from Redwing Blackbirds to our more extravagant Peacocks.
Our Grounds are dog friendly, so enjoy walking your furry friend around our Cemetery Trail Loop (which crosses the Welsh Run three times), or enjoy the shade under our tree line walk.
Nature never takes a break, so check out the flowers in bloom throughout the grounds, or smell the herbs in our Kitchen Garden.
Book an educational program, or visit during our Saturday programming from 10am to 5pm YEAR ROUND.
Even when the buildings are closed, History doesn't stop! We now have walking tours and information packets at dispensers near the Visitor Center and our Interpretive Wayside panels give a rich history of the Buildings and their story.
For those currently unable to visit, we have been producing virtual programs and adding them to YouTube. Check them out at Colonial Living at the Conococheague Institute.
We have some warmer things planned with our free Saturday programs for Winter.
Free historic programs at CI every Saturday year round! Of course every Saturday, the gift shop, exhibits and bathrooms are also open from 10am to 5pm. See you soon.
$1,000,000 Donation for Early American History!
A passion for American history is alive and well in Pennsylvania, with a monumental contribution of $1,000,000 to support the Conococheague Institute and Mercersburg Academy. This generous donation made by philanthropist Robert Kurtz Jr will be equally split between these two remarkable institutions, each providing new experiences for students and stimulating a passion for early American history in the community.
“As our endowment builds, we'll unlock new avenues of growth and become eligible for additional grant funding opportunities, further enhancing our mission,” said Matthew Wedd, Executive Director of CI. “Planning for the future, we can now look at 5 and 10 year goals, and can't wait to share the journey with the community. The students who engage in our programs are a huge reason for this donation, as they prove to our donors that history matters to the next generation!”
Mercersburg Academy and the Conococheague Institute have a wonderful history of collaboration with students actively participating in preservation and conservation efforts. Students have been instrumental in cemetery restoration, tree plantings, invasive species removal, and gardening projects.
Last year, thanks to Mr. Kurtz's previous endowment, a new annual program was introduced "Can You Live 18th Century"; This initiative allows 12 high school students to immerse themselves in 18th-century life, complete with period clothing and technology, during a two-week experience at CI. Due to its novel nature the program received the prestigious PA Museums Institutional Achievement award.
More recently, Mr. Kurtz's support enabled the Conococheague Institute to create two paid high school intern positions, providing early career development opportunities to budding historians and preservationists.
The future of the frontier is looking bright, and every contribution helps.
You too can celebrate with us by making a tax deductible donation.
Head to https://cimlg.org/support-ci/donate/ to learn more!
Americana Corner Preserving America Grant Program Enables New Exhibits and Educational Programs
In 2022 we were among the Inaugural recipients of the Americana Corner grant program which greatly helped in expanding our education programs.
The Conococheague Institute is is proud to announce that we’ve been selected again for the 2023 @AmericanaCorner Preserving America Grant Program!
The program was established to assist non-profit organizations like us in the telling of the incredible story of America from its founding era through its first century as a nation.
We'll be going in further this year, using it to support our educational programs and offer in-school opportunities, but also installing a brand new exhibit on the history of firearms, and acquiring new historic gardening tools that will mean more students hands on in the garden during every program. Which of course in turn means more tasty crops that we can give back to the community. Truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Our sincerest thanks to Tom Hand of AC for his generosity in supporting so many wonderful organizations that instill a “love of country” – the Amor Patriae – in our communities.
Visit americanacorner.com for details. #americancornergrants
Franklin County IMPACT! Grant Program Supports CI's Outdoor Spaces!
We are pleased to share the news that CI was awarded a $70,000 grant through the Franklin County IMPACT! Grant Program.
With this funding, we have finished additions to our outdoor spaces for the community including new picnic areas, bike rakes, children's learning play area and equipment. Come check that out any day from dawn to dusk.
Funding through Franklin County’s IMPACT! Grant Program was available to nonprofit organizations, municipalities and municipal authorities located within Franklin County to support local recovery efforts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Franklin County Commissioners distributed grants for 127 projects across Franklin County.
The IMPACT! Grant Program was made possible through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
We are grateful to the Franklin County Commissioners for this grant and for supporting our project.
September 2023 Pioneer Times is Out Now! Read it here...
Interested in learning more about the recent happenings at CI? Check out our Quarterly Newsletter "The Pioneer Times". This issue has 10 pages of donations, programs and upcoming exciting events!
You can read old issues below too.
Historic Programs in the Cabin and Gardens every Saturday year round
Every Saturday join our staff in the Historic areas of CI for some hands on programs. With a focus on daily life in the 18th Century, you're sure to learn something new every time.
December 2nd - Seasons Greeting: Hearth Cooking
Join staff for a day of hearth cooking fun! Recreate period recipes, and take home some new ideas for your own feast
December 9th - Drop in Workshop: Making Games
Need a last minute gift? Come learn how to make a historic Game of Graces, Nine Mens Morris, or Hare and Hound
December 16th - Colonial Christmas
Christmas is right around the corner! Come see some colonial Christmas traditions with a day full of activities!
December 23rd - Interactive Yule Log
Have you watched a yule log video and wondered what it would be like in person? Join us as we keep the fire going and teach about the tradition of the yule log
December 30th - New Years Resolution: Learn Calligraphy
Have a New years resolution to learn Calligraphy? We have everything you need to check it off before the end of the year. Come learn the basics and write out your list for next year!
Stop by the porch of the Visitor Center where boxes contain Children's 'Explorer' activity packs. This free activity pack is a great way for families with young children to enjoy History and Nature at CI.
For more information on upcoming events, become a Member and sign up for our email newsletters.
To stay up to date on the progress here at the Conococheague Institute, make sure to follow our Facebook page...or stop by and see the progress yourself!