social history

the History of Cook Forest

Created in 1927 after a long campaign by the Cook family and supporters, Cook Forest State Park today preserves the old-growth pine and hemlock stands which include our “Forest Cathedral,” today a National Natural Landmark.  This page will compile clippings, photos, and ephemera related to Cook Forest and its history, updated as often as possible.

An abbreviated genealogy is included here for the curious, but the best resource for those with a deep interest in the park’s founding is the book on that topic by the inimitable I. M. McCreight, “Cook Forest Park: Story of the Sixteen Year Battle to Save the Last Stand of Historic Penn’s Woods: The when, the why and how of it” (1936), available from Penn State libraries and linked below as a single PDF for your convenience.

Andrew Cook family tree

A greatly simplified genealogy of Andrew Cook (1824 – 1891), son of John, son of Daniel (Cook or possibly Koch). Andrew’s children [only those surviving to adulthood are shown] formed the A. Cook Sons Co., and many transferred their properties to Anthony W. Cook Sr., to facilitate the creation of the state park in 1927.

Cook Forest Park by I.M. McCreight, 1936​

“A brief history compiled from the records by one of the many thousands comprising the great army of patriotic citizens who fought to preserve the giant pines for future generations to see and enjoy.” Details the years of effort that went into the establishment of Cook Forest State Park, now a National Natural Landmark.

Clarion River raft band
Cooksburg Band on the Clarion River - 1896
Judge Andrew Cook
Judge Andrew Cook

Deeds executed by Andrew Cook and his wife, Rebecca Ann Maze Cook, scanned from the Forest County courthouse in Tionesta, PA, are included here for anyone with an interest in old deeds, and for archival purposes.  Note that some have been transcribed from the original. 

The Cook Forest Conservancy page on local Maps has a few of the initial parcel landowner maps – click here to see these.   Local county boundaries shifted in the 1900s, so do keep this in mind when researching old plats and deeds. 

Several other families and organizations have donated land to Cook Forest since its formation in 1927.  Among those donors are Thomas Liggett, for whom a trail is named in the park, and who appears here in an excellent photograph which one hopes resolved amicably; Arthur E. Braun of Pittsburgh, who spared part of the Tom’s Run area from purchase by a logging company; and the MacBeth family, who still operate cabins and a store at the Route 36 bridge (see the panorama below for their site, to right of the bridge in the image).   Most recently, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy obtained 275 acres near Slocum Spring and transferred it to the state park. 

Liggett vs bear
Mr. Thomas Liggett Sr., and friend
Parke-birds-eye-cooksburg-191x
glass negative scan of fisheye view of Cooksburg by Bert Parke, in the 1910s