America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Nolde Mansion House

Nolde Forest

This is a state park that's mostly about the land, and in some ways, reclamation. No, not recent reclamation, as the forest that has now grown on this acreage is over one hundred years old, the vision of the Nolde family when they purchased it, and later handed it over to the state for environmental education and a walk in the woods. If you're in the area and like to hike, take a chance on Nolde Forest. The trails aren't the longest (total ten miles) or the most demanding, but they do wind through grounds that in the summer hold a feast for tall tree advocates, and on roads and trails built, for the most part, by a private family. It's unique. It's often dark. It's a great walk in the park. Image above: Mansion in Nolde Forest used as headquarters with environmental center nearby. Mansion is open for self-guided tours most Sundays of the year.

  • Nolde Forest

    It was the early 1900's and there was only one tree here. Yes, hard to believe, because today, after over one hundred years, it's all trees. When Jacob Nolde, a hosiery titan, bought the acreage, it was meadow, but he wanted a forest. So, after hiring an Austrian who knew something about trees, they planted a coniferous forest that's so tall, and in the summer, dark and foreboding, you might need bread crumbs to find your way around. Well, not really, but you should pay attention.

    For the last forty-five years, the over six hundred acres have been available as a state park and environmental center, with mansion tours available on some Sundays in the home son Hans Nolde built for his family. It's fifteen thousand square feet in size, with unusual rooms built from thick stone in Tudor style. If you're there on a Sunday when self-guided tours are available, step inside. It's different and actually, in some way, seems smaller than its stated size. Today, it houses offices for the state park.

    Near the mansion is an environmental center with frequent progams for kids. But the best part of this tall tree environment is walking the trails within the forest. Yes, there are tree stump waystations where some of the programs take place in the woods, but it's really in the walk among a forest built from not much, that one lone pine, that tells the story and history of the land.

    Image above: Late fall view of one of the trails within Nolde Forest. Fall is one season where you can actually see sunlight in the forest. In summer, it becomes a very thick place.

    Trails within Nolde Forest

  • Nolde Forest

    What's There

    Nolde Mansion - Now serves as offices for park staff, but at one time was the 15,000 square foot home of the Nolde family built in 1926. Tudor in style. House tours, self-guided, with two videos about its history, are available from the Nolde Forest Friends Group during their Sunday open houses.

    C.H. McConnell Environmental Education Hall - Located next to the Nolde Mansion, the hall provides year round programming for visitors and school groups. It is run by the state park system.

    The Sawmill - Located north of the mansion, small outbuildings still remain plus the stream that rambles past the parking lot. Good place to get on a trail if the mansion lot is closed.

    The Trails - Ten miles winding through the six hundred and sixty-five acre forest. Be mindful where you are here, especially in the summer. The forest gets so dark due to the tall trees that orientation is harder than at some sites. There are some hills here, but many trails are not especially long or steep. Check the map or office for the best trails for you. Pets on leash are allowed.

    Picnic Tables - There are many picnic tables in the area around the Nolde Mansion and Nolde Mansion parking lot, as well as some in the Sawmill Parking lot area.

    How Much to Visit

    Free - Hiking Trails, Grounds, and Sunday House Tour.

    Hours Open

    Grounds are open sunrise to sunset every day. The mansion parking lot and office are open Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Special programs, such as the Sunday Mansion tours, also provide openings for the mansion parking lot. See site for program details.

    Where Is It Located

    Nolde Forest State Park and Environmetal Education Center is located at 2910 New Holland Road, Reading, PA 19607-9448. It is several miles southeast of Reading, Pennsylvania, near the suburb of Shillington. Reading is located approximately sixty-five miles west of Philadelphia; twenty miles north of Lancaster.

    Website - Nolde Forest State Park and Environmental Center

  • Area Historic Sites

    So what else is there to do near Nolde Forest? Well, there's National Park history about iron forges at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, as well as a large recreational state park next door to there in French Creek State Park. Not far from the area are the historic sites and attractions of Amish culture in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

    Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
    French Creek State Park
    Visit Lancaster

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