Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

James Buchanan never lost an election when he became the 15th President of the United States. He had already served as a Pennsylvania assemblyman, U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, Foreign Minister to Russia and later to Great Britain, and has also been Secretary of State.

President Buchanan took office in 1857 during a time of turmoil in the country about the issue of slavery. He kept the Union together, but after explaining his policy in a special message to Congress in January 1861, northern newspapers called his policy weak. Three months later, in President Lincoln’s inaugural address, the same newspapers called Lincoln’s policy “forceful, brave, patriotic, manly, and full of decision and firmness.” Ironically, only a few papers acknowledged Buchanan and Lincoln’s policies “occupied exactly the same ground.”

Since Buchanan was a bachelor, his acting first lady was his niece, Harriet Lane. Her parents died when she was only 11, and Buchanan became her guardian. He made sure she received both academic and social training. When he became President, she guided social functions and was active in hospital and prison reforms as well as humanitarian treatment of Native Americans.

It was Harriet who willed the funds to create two monuments to her uncle, including his birthplace monument located in Franklin County, near Cove Gap, Pennsylvania. Located on 18.5 acres, construction of the monument began in 1907. When the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania accepted the land and monument on March 22, 1911, it was the first gift of land to the state’s park system.

The Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park includes signs sharing history about James Buchanan’s life. A short walkway leads to the pyramidal monument made of native stone. Rising 31 feet high, it includes 50 tons of hammered American gray granite for a tablet, bench and capstone. The tablet is inscribed: “This monument marks the birthplace of James Buchanan Fifteenth President of the United States Born 23 April 1791 Died 1 June 1868.”

The park is wooded and provides pavilions, drinking water, restrooms and a peaceful picnic area.

Nearby Cowans Gap State Park offers a variety of recreational activities.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Short walk to monument. Peaceful woodland setting. Nice picnic area.


Limited activities.


Historically significant
Family friendly
Picnic tables
Near lake or river
Covered picnic areas
ADA accessible
Potable water
Bird watching



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