Written by Beth Exley

For the 17th year in a row, Cook Forest State Park and the Sawmill Center for the Arts will host a series of living history events depicting life during the French & Indian War on June 8 and 9. Take a walk back in time at the Sawmill Center for the Arts to view British, Colonial, French, and American Indian re-enactors as they portray lifestyles of the 18th century. Highlights of this full two-day encampment include children’s programs, woodland natives, cannon and musket firing demonstrations, sutler camp, council and trading events, nationally renowned living historians, French & Indian War era artisans, and live tactical engagements. Every battle is different. The thunderous echo of the cannon firing demonstrations and the wild yarns of blacksmith and storyteller Dennis Murray are always crowd favorites.

“The biggest thing that’s new for this year is that we plan on splitting battle locations. One site is planned to be in the usual area along Black Bear Trail near the water tower. The new site will be an easy walking distance nearby, but off an access road from the swimming pool field that leads through the woods to the Log Cabin Inn. At the second site, folks will be looking down into a “bowl” where all the action will be.” Stated Dale J. Luthringer, Environmental Education Specialist for Cook Forest State Park.

I wondered how this reenactment all got started in the Cook Forest area since it is not known as an actual battleground for the French and Indian War. His response cleared up any questions I had. Dale stated, “It all started off with an idea posed by a fellow re-enactor, Jim Brown. It all boils down to the fact that Cook Forest has trees alive today that were already at least 100 years old in the mid-1700’s. Being able to re-enact a period of our nation’s history among living witnesses of that time frame is a very rare privilege.”

To learn about other exciting places, events, people, and more in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region, go to or call (814) 849-5197.

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