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5 Questions features Uncovering PA’s Jim Cheney of Carlisle

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Jim Cheney moved to Carlisle in 2021 because he believes it’s one of the best small towns in Pennsylvania.

As the creator, principal author and photographer of Uncovering PA, he’s visited quite a few to choose from.

Uncovering PA is a travel blog that takes readers to tourist sites, hiking trails and other places in each corner of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

Originally from northern Virginia, Cheney attended Messiah College, which is now Messiah University, and lived in Nashville, Baltimore and South Korea before moving to Harrisburg in 2012.

He started Uncovering PA the following year after using his time in Asia to develop his online marking and content creation skills.


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According to it’s website, Uncovering PA was designed to answer one question: What is there to do in Pennsylvania?

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Ten years later, Cheney’s Pennsylvania Travel Map contains just under 1,200 pins that identify destinations he’s personally explored with another 200 to 300 locations he’s visited and still needs to write about.

With hundreds of options to choose from, Cheney said he can’t identify a single location as his favorite, however top contenders include the Abandoned PA Turnpike between Bedford and Fulton counties, Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion in Centre County, Ricketts Glen State Park in Luzerne County, and Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County.

He believes some of Pennsylvania’s hidden gems include more than 200 waterfalls that can be found around the state. Other destinations, such as Independence Hall and the Gettysburg Battlefields are less hidden but still highly recommended, Cheney said.

Uncovering PA has served as his full time job for the past decades, though Cheney said it took a few years to make a living from it. His primary source of income comes through advertisements on Uncovering PA’s website as well as his second site, Uncovering New York.


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Cheney also brings in money by offering photography workshops, brand partnerships and sales of his “Waterfalls of Pennsylvania” book and photo prints.

While every week looks different, Cheney said he visits as many as 30 to 40 spots per month when the weather is warm while colder months typically feature fewer trips. Aside from time on the road, he spends a lot of time at his desk putting together content.

The Sentinel spoke with Cheney for a look at his criteria for Uncovering PA’s destinations and his recommended Cumberland County visits:

Q1: How do you find and choose the places you’ll visit?

A: To find places, I do a lot of internet research, looking around on Google Maps, and I get suggestions for readers. I have a bookmark folder for every county in the state, and when I find something interesting, I add it to that folder, so I can reference that the next time I’m looking to visit the area. I try to get to every corner of the state at least once a year so that I have fresh new content (or updated content) for everywhere in the state that I can share.

Q2: What are some of the places you recommend visiting in Cumberland County?

A: I always enjoy exploring Michaux State Forest, which is home to the ruins of a World War II POW camp and Hammonds Rocks. You can also easily access the Appalachian Trail from there and the midway point of the entire trail is located within the forest, as is a museum dedicated to the trail. I’m also a bit biased as a resident, but downtown Carlisle is also really fantastic. I don’t believe there’s anywhere in the state that has a higher concentration of craft breweries, plus we have a distillery and cidery as well. And that’s not even mentioning the other great restaurants, shops, and the Cumberland County Historical Society Museum. The Army Heritage Center Museum is also a really unique and interesting place to explore.


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Q3: What’s something you’ve learned through this blog?

A: When I started the site over 10 years ago, I really only knew about the big tourist stuff. A big part of why I started in the first place was because I was having a hard time finding things to do, and I figured there had to be stuff to do around the state. Even though I’ve been doing this for so long and have been to well over 1,000 places, I’m still amazed how many spots there still are left for me to visit. We are really blessed in PA with such an incredible number of great places to visit no matter your interests.

Q4: How have you seen Uncovering PA grow throughout the past 10 years?

A: The site has grown tremendously and reaches millions of people each year, all of whom are looking for great things to do in Pennsylvania. I’ve also been lucky to have garnered a following of around 300,000 people between social media and my email newsletter. It’s great to see so many people wanting to find great things to do around the state.

Q5: What’s something you want other people to understand about Pennsylvania through your work?

A: I’m a big advocate for taking big trips to explore other states as well as international travel (I’ve been to more than 30 countries). However, I recognize that whether it’s an issue of time, money or interest, not everyone can or wants to do that. Fortunately, there are a ton of fantastic things to do in Pennsylvania and you could spend years just exploring the state and not see it all (as I’ve proven). So, whether you have a few hours, a few days or even a week or two, there’s no reason you can’t get out and explore somewhere new.

Camp Michaux is located in the Michaux State Forest in Cooke Township near Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The space has existed as Bunker Hill Farm from 1787 to 1919. It was used as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp from 1933 to 1942. From 1943 to 1945 during World War II, the space housed one of three secret POW interrogation camps in the United States. Afterward it became a church camp from 1946 to 1972. Today, a self-guided walking tour leads visitors through ruins still visible at the site.

Maddie Seiler




Photos: An inside look at Camp Michaux in Cooke Township

Maddie Seiler is a news reporter for The Sentinel and cumberlink.com covering Carlisle and Newville. You can contact her at mseiler@cumberlink.com and follow her on Twitter at: @SeilerMadalyn

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