The Fires of Penn’s Woods

The Fires of Penn’s Woods

New Book Details Wildfires Across Pennsylvania and How Pennsylvanians Responded to the Challenge

What is Happening in the Western States Now, Happened in Pennsylvania. Wildfires Raged Across Pennsylvania More Than a Century Ago

Carlisle, PA, December 29, 2017: Almost everyday news accounts show video and still photos of entire towns devastated by wildfires. Terms like “largest in history,” or “a community destroyed by a wildfire,” are common as news reporters in yellow firefighter shirts stand before the cameras. A hundred and twenty years ago the same kind of devastation was found in Pennsylvania. But it doesn’t take a 300,000 acre fire to be significant. If it is your family, house, barn or place of employment that was burned, it is immaterial whether the fire burned a thousand acres or two acres. The fire was significant!

As the great forests of Pennsylvania were cleared, the slash and debris left by loggers was prone to burn – and it did! Huge fires once raged through the forest of Pennsylvania. While certainly not on the scale of the fires that have burned across the American West in the recent years, the wildfires that have burned in Pennsylvania took lives, disrupted families and businesses, burned homes, farms and even entire towns. The fires provided the impetus for the founding of the science of forestry and wildfire control in the Keystone State.

The Fires of Penn’s Woods is a detailed historical account of how fires –some quite large and some quite small – impacted Pennsylvania and shaped what is today a sustainable forest that has re-grown from the Great Pennsylvania Desert – the land that was left after industrial logging virtually cleared the state of its trees by the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

Until now there has not been a comprehensive history that has documented wildfires in Pennsylvania to this extent. This thoroughly researched and meticulously detailed book describes how the science of forestry, wildfire prevention, and fire control has grown in Pennsylvania. This book is a must read for firefighter, foresters and others with an interest in Pennsylvania history.

The author, Michael Klimkos is retired from the PA Department of Environmental Protection. For twenty-five years he was a volunteer firefighter and a member of wildland firefighting crews. He has previously authored, A History of Trout Unlimited and the Environmental Movement: 1959 – 2000, (2003), and compiled and edited The Letort: A Limestone Legacy, (2015). He is the past editor of Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide magazine. Mike is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association. He writes from his home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

The book is available through Amazon, as well as other retail booksellers. For information on how to obtain a signed copy, or find out where the author is doing a book signing or presentation, visit the author’s website at

The Fires of Penn’s Woods

By Michael J. Klimkos

2017, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Library of Congress Control Number:  2017919450

ISBN: 10: 1981712410



6” X 9” – Paperback

350 pages, plus index

3 appendices

527 Endnotes

Shop owners and book re-sellers please contact me directly for pricing and details.


Significant Wildfires

As we watch the devastation that is occurring in California every day on the national news we keep hearing terms like, “Second largest in California history,” and “entire neighborhood wiped out.” To be sure the fires are terrifying and tragic. They are huge, seemingly unstoppable, and devastating to thousands upon thousands of people.

What needs to be remembered through all this is there is no such thing as “an insignificant wildfire.” The debris burner who has a fire get away from them and burns a half an acre along with his garage will tell you the fire was significant to him. The arsonist who set a fire to wreak  maximum damage, set a fire that was significant to the firefighters who responded and stopped it before it burned an acre. The firefighters who carried out their fellow firefighter who suffered a heart attack while working a fire set when a diesel locomotive blew hot carbon sparks into the dry brush along the tracks, would call that a significant fire.

A fire doesn’t have to burn 350,000 acres to be significant – despite what the reporters, dressed in spiffy yellow shirts with their network logo embroidered on the front and standing in front of a fire that is roaring up a steep canyon tell you. When you are on the receiving end of a fire it is significant.

Camp Run AMD Project Update

They are now running a couple of dozers, a 988 loader, track hoe and other earthmoving equipment. Things are progressing, but they have experienced a couple of mechanical breakdowns – typical of former Camp Run Project.

The operators told me (I did not get to see it) that when they broke into the ash injection site that the grout moved out about 5 feet from the injection pipe. That was what we planned.

If you plan on going to the site a WORD OF CAUTION!!!  Access the site via the Rock Run Road. There are two reasons for this: 1) the Cole Run Road on top is a mess, 2) Lime trucks are travelling up and down the Cole Run Road daily and you do not want to meet them going either way. Both the mud and tri-axels can be avoided by using the Rock Run Road as long as the winter remains snowless.

As I headed down the mountain last fall they had a rock truck and another loader being put together at the staging area. I suspect the rock truck may be on site – if it is not wedged between a rock and a hard place somewhere along the road. Twenty foot wide trucks and sixteen foot wide roads can make for an interesting journey.