Craighead House - PA conservation History

The Craighead House

Nestled among trees along the banks of the Yellow Breeches near Carlisle, PA, the Craighead House is an old Victorian building, built in 1886, that has seen many naturalists walk through its doors.

Three of the most well-known nature lovers to spend their summers at the Craighead House home were twin brothers Frank Jr. (deceased 2001) and John Craighead (deceased 2016) and their sister Jean Craighead George (deceased 2012). Frank and John are best known for their study of grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park. Jean wrote more than 100 children’s books related to nature, including Newberry Award winners Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain. She was recognized as a Conservation Hero by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013, and was inducted into the New York State Writers Halls of Fame in 2016.

Jean also wrote The Summer of the Falcon, which is a “thinly veiled fiction about her life as a teenager at the Craighead House.” In the novel, the adolescent heroine, June Pritchard, learns to train her sparrow hawk, Zander, which broadens her knowledge of herself and the world around her. The experiences Jean had at the Craighead house – exploring the forest and viewing the Yellow Breeches from her bedroom window – not only shaped who she was, but shaped the lives of countless readers in the decades to follow.

In 2012, the Craighead House Committee was formed to preserve the house and use it as an education center. Over the years, the house had fallen into disrepair and was at risk of being lost forever. The Friends of the Craighead House Committee donated in subsequent years to fix up and modernize the house, pay the mortgage, and provide resources for the educational programs.

Photo of the House used by permission of the Friends of Craighead House