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 Field Camp Alumni 1919-1954

1925 Field Camp, probably in Bedford County. Credit: Rudy Slingerland

Field Camp 1919-1954
Staff in University Archives in Paterno Library were very helpful in finding materials for this article and in scanning photographs.

1919-1939: The Bedford County Years

The General Catalog of The Pennsylvania State College first listed a summer field geology course, that lasted more than one week, in 1919-1920.  The Geology Department in the School of Mines (later Mines and Metallurgy) required a three-week course in Geologic Surveying in the summer and Field Geology during the Fall Semester of the senior year.  Those requirements stayed the same until 1932-1933, when both the School name and the course requirements changed.  The course, Summer Field Geology, became eight weeks in length and was required for the Geology Curriculum in the School of Mineral Industries.  The first three weeks of that course were the same as Geologic Surveying, a course that was also required for the Curriculum in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering.  Those requirements remained the same until 1942-1943.  At least some of those summers were in Bedford County.  A February 16, 1932 clipping (University Archives): "Geology Students of Pennsylvania State College and those engaged in studying petroleum production are making plans to attend the Penn State summer geology camp which will be established again in Bedford County.  The camp will open June 7 and continue to June 28 for the petroleum engineers and to July 31 for the geologists.  Professor C A Bonine, Head of the Department of Geology, will be in charge of camp and field instruction.  The students in camp last year mapped surface strata, and this year they will study formations of the underlying Silurian beds."  Prof. Chesleigh A Bonine (EM, Lehigh '12) came to Penn State in 1918 and established the summer field course (University Archives).  He was also Geology Department Head from 1923 until his retirement in 1947.

Prof Chesleigh A Bonine
Professor C A Bonine says something is wrong with the map of John Ferm.  May, 1945.  Credit: Bob Folk

1940-1960: The Stone Valley Years

In 1942-1943 an Earth Sciences Department was formed with Geology, Meteorology, Geophysics, and Geography.  All four Curricula required Geologic Surveying and in addition Summer Field Geology for the Geology Curriculum and Geophysical Field Work for the Geophysics Curriculum.  Those requirements were the same until the 1946-1948 Catalog. 

Michael Bezilla, in Penn State: An Illustrated History, writes: "Several departments in the schools of Engineering, Mineral Industries, and Agriculture needed land for summer camps and other field work. In 1940 the Hetzel administration signed a lease for 4,500 acres of forest and farm land in Stone Valley, Huntingdon County, about fifteen miles southwest of State College. The United States Department of Agriculture's Farm Security Administration had acquired the land several years earlier as part of a plan to relocate families from submarginal farm land. The USDA then leased the property to the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters, which in turn subleased a tract to Penn State for 99 years. A lodge, reservoir, access roads, and other improvements costing over $35,000 were made jointly by the College and the federal Soil Conservation Service."  Records in University Archives show that the Mineral Industries Lodge, a wood frame structure with 4,398 sq ft over two stories and a porch, was constructed in 1938, the same year that the Forestry Lodge was built.  The Civil Engineering Lodge, across Stone Creek, was built two years later.
     Today the Forestry Lodge is the Environmental Center.  The MI Lodge became park headquarters in 1960 and burned to the ground in 1980.  The CE Lodge still exists and is used for group affairs by Stone Valley.

The 1946-1948 Catalog was the first specifically to mention the Mineral Industries Lodge. "Exceptional displays of folded and faulted strata in central Pennsylvania provide an inspiring, as well as instructive, natural geological laboratory of which use is made by the organized field excursions and special studies of the regular College courses, and by summer work at the Mineral Industries Camp.  The main lodge of the camp, in its attractive, woodland setting, is adjoined by permanent sleeping cabins; equipment includes plane tables, alidades, and Paulin altimeters."  That Catalog also sets forth a revised academic structure, with an Earth Sciences Department that had Curricula in Geology-Mineralogy and Geophysics-Geochemistry.  Geology-Mineralogy students took summer Geologic Surveying and Field Geology, whereas Geophysics-Geochemistry took only Geologic Surveying.  The Field Geology course included three weeks at the MI Camp and a one week tour.  Prof. Bonine continued as MI Camp Director.

The courses established in 1946-48 remained in place in 1948-1950.  John Eliot Allen (PhD, Berkeley '34) was Summer Camp Director from 1946-1949.  In 1951-1952 the Geophysics-Geochemistry requirements were extended to include Field Geophysics.  Philip H Osberg (PhD, Harvard '52) was Director of the Geology Summer Camp in 1952-1953, and in 1954-1955 Wakefield Dort, Jr. (PhD, Stanford '55) was Director of the Mineral Industries Camp.

     Over the years between 1940 and 1960, field camp students mapped in the Allensville, Alum Bank, Bedford, Donation, McAlevys Fort, Ogletown, Pine Grove Mills, and Schellsburg quadrangles.  This work was incorporated into the map Bedrock Geology of Pennsylvania issued by the Pennsylvania Geological Survey.  For a discussion of the close of Stone Valley as the field camp site, click here for the 1960 page.

Prof SwainProfessor Fred M Swain (MS Penn State '39, PhD Kansas '43) taught at the field school in 1949 and was Director in 1950.  He went on to the University of Minnesota and is an international expert on ostracods.  He writes: "The field program at Stone Valley Camp was begun by Prof. Bonine and continued by John Eliot Allen, who left for Portland State about 1949.  The students were put in groups of four.  Sections of Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian rocks around Huntingdon and Mount Union were measured and described, while field methods were learned: Brunton compass, plane table use, air photo and topo sheets, etc.  Graduate student assistants plus the director constituted the teaching staff, but we occasionally had someone come out to give specialized instruction. I believe both Profs. Krynine and Swartz did this.
      The work area in the lodge was used for daily map updates, discussions, microscopic and hand specimen work on lithologic and paleontologic material.  A lot of the mapping involved soil interpretation, topographic expression, dip and strike structural  studies, and structural cross-section sketches.  Transparent overlays were used on the air photos  The students in each party ended with a map common to the  party.  These were combined, as I recall, at the end for the whole area, and  each student wrote a report, due any time prior to the beginning of fall term. The last week or so, if time permitted, was spent going to various well-known geologic features in Pennsylvania such as Cornwall, anthracite strip mines, and Delaware Water Gap.
      The camp area was kept up by university landscapers.  There was a central lodge with a big dining room, kitchen, and map work area on the second floor.  A local couple did the cooking and servicing of the lodge.  There were eight cabins housing staff and students.  The director and family had one cabin."

Click here for another photo and a few of the students who attended between 1940 and 1954.  For years after 1954 see individual webpages.


Click on the thumbs to enlarge:


Alumni Field Camp Before 1955 Photos
Geology class field trip, Oct 1914. Penn State Archives
Geology class field trip, Oct 1914. Penn State Archives
Geology class field trip, Oct 1914. Penn State Archives
GSc 470 class at Whipple Dam, 1960s. Penn State Archives
Field camp in1922 in Bedford County. Penn State Archives
Field camp in 1922 in Bedford County. Penn State Archives
Camping at field camp in Bedford County, 1922. Penn State Archives
Picture from the 1953 Mineral Industries Bulletin. Penn State Archives
Plane table surveying, probably in the 1950s or 60s. Penn State Archives
Mineral Industries Lodge, built 1938. Penn State Archives
Mineral Industries Lodge, side. Penn State Archives
John C Ferm on the alidade. Geology field camp, May 1945
2006 view of the site of the MI Lodge, which burned to the ground in 1980.
Civil Engineering camp, Stone Valley, late 1930s
CE Lodge, 2006
CE Lodge across Lake Perez from the MI Camp area, 2006
Lake Perez, 2006