Fulton County Heritage

Settlement of Fulton County began as early as 1719 and was influenced by the settlement patterns of our first pioneers.

By 1850, many residents of this region wished to create a new county from the eastern edge of Bedford County. The original draft of the Pennsylvania House of Representative bill provided that the new county be named Liberty; however, the passage of the bill in the Senate depended upon the action of Senator Parker of Lycoming County. He agreed to support the bill provided he be allowed to name the county. This proposition was accepted, and thus on April 19, 1850 the new county became Fulton instead of Liberty. The name was chosen in recognition of Robert Fulton of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, inventor of the steamboat.

In the 1740’s Adam McConnell and his three sons settled in the Great Cove of Fulton County, having followed the pack horse trail from Lancaster. The first public road through Fulton County was established by son William McConnell in 1761, and amounted to a bridle path from Cove Gap to join Forbes Road near Breezewood. Today Routes 16 and 30 (the Lincoln Highway) follow this early road.

Daniel McConnell deeded land for the town of McConnellsburg in 1786, which later became the seat of government for rural Fulton County. McConnellsburg is nestled in the heart of the picturesque Great Cove, and this delightful small town of about 1200 folks found itself as a stopping place on the main route to the great west from Philadelphia. The town developed around the road, and its growth throughout the 18th and 19th centuries flourished as the road grew in importance. The creation of the Lincoln Highway in 1913 brought further significance to the road, and new prestige to McConnellsburg as the nation’s first transcontinental paved highway became the town’s “Main Street”.

McConnellsburg’s historic district was recognized by the United States Department of the Interior in 1993 when it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The district consists of 144 structures that contribute to its historic character. Of notable meaning are the numerous taverns, inns, automotive garages and other travel-related structures still in existence today, which includes Daniel McConnell’s original log home. The original rural nature of Fulton County’s 438 square miles is still preserved today as confirmed by the United States Census Bureau which lists the county population in 1885 as 7,564, while in 2000 our folks numbered 14,261. Fulton County offers an escape from today’s faster-paced, more hectic way of life. Our gently rolling mountains and green fertile valleys provide a quiet, peaceful environment for numerous recreational opportunities. We enjoy over 50,000 acres of Pennsylvania State Forest land with lakes and streams that are replete with game and fish. Hunting, fishing, cycling, hiking, boating, camping, swimming, golfing, and hang-gliding are some of the popular outdoor and family activities available.

Fulton County is also centrally located in southern Pennsylvania with easy accessibility to Interstate Routes 68, 70 and 81 plus the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We are within 2 hours driving of Harrisburg, PA, Baltimore, MD, and Washington, DC, and within 3 hours of Pittsburgh, PA and Philadelphia, PA.

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1951 by a spirited group of enterprising folks who shared a common vision in promoting Fulton County as a wonderful spot to live and work. This was followed by the establishment in 1976 of The Fulton County Tourist Promotion Agency to advocate Fulton County as a wonderful area to visit. In 2002, these two organizations merged to form The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism with a renewed emphasis in advancing our community as a great place to live, work and enjoy!