Off the Beaten Path: Wildasin Meeting House and Burial Grounds in Hanover, PA

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I’m not sure what it is about Bob and I… but we are sort of adventurous travelers.  No, no, not in like, a mountain-climbing-cliff-diving-shark-swimming kind of way.  More like a pulling-off-the-highway-to-check-out-the-World’s-Largest-Ball-of-Twine-a-la-Clark-Griswold kind of way.

So last month while we were camping at Codorus State Park, we started to kick around ideas and even consulted Google to find possible places of interest nearby to explore.  We put the finishing touches on our game plan over a kid-free (she was at her grandparents’ house for the weekend) lunch at the local Red Lobster.  We made an after-lunch pit stop at Starbucks and our adventure commenced.

And that’s how I found myself 25 weeks pregnant, sloughing through the hot and humid Pennsylvania wilderness in search of an obscure piece of history.

We were looking for the Wildasin Meeting House and burial grounds located in the woods of Codorus State Park. You could explore this park every weekend for a year and still not stumble upon this hidden pocket. This family-turned-public burial ground dates back to 1782 with the meeting house being built a few decades later. This spot is very much off the beaten path – but well worth the effort.

As you drive along Bankert Road, you will find a parking lot tucked back off a bend in the road.

Look for a gravel road that looks like it disappears into the wilderness.

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After a 3/4 mile walk down this path (it took us about 15 minutes and we were NOT in a rush), the white corner of the meeting house will poke out of the trees.  As you walk around the side of the meeting house, the property opens into a clearing with an old cemetery located inside a metal fence.

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The meeting house is actually opened to the public – the doors are kept unlocked and visitors are welcome to check out the inside (which is filled with wooden pews – not sure if they are original or not).

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The cemetery itself was extremely unique and interesting.  We found graves noting veterans of a couple different wars, including the Revolutionary War.  Some of the stones were nothing more than a piece of slate rock.  A bunch of the stones had various Pennsylvania Dutch symbols on them – very out of the ordinary.

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We spent about an hour reading the various stones and taking in the history of the meeting house itself.  Believe it or not – we weren’t the only ones there.  When we arrived, we met a family enjoying the shade of the meeting house with their young kids.  The woman explained to us that she lived nearby and that some of her earliest memories were of her grandmother bringing her down the winding lane to the meeting house.  She would pretend that the pulpit area was a stage and sing songs, recite prayers, etc.  It was really neat to have a tangible family memory to link to the history of the property.

You can read all about the history of the Wildasin Meeting House and Burial Grounds.

Before long, it was time to begin the trek back to the car.  We were hot, sweaty and I don’t even want to discuss the size of my cankles by the end of the walk.  It was worth the effort though – such a cool discovery!

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