Gifford Pinchot’s Rural Roads Program

As warm weather begins to rouse the plant and animal life from their winter slumber, so too does it drive people to take to the roadways. The Sunday drive is a time-honored tradition for many folks wishing to enjoy the natural beauty of our region. Not only appreciated by locals, the scenery of the Delaware River Valley attracts sightseers from around the world, most of them arriving by car.

            At Grey Towers National Historic Site, we are gearing up to welcome many of these visitors to our site for the 2021 season. Our interpreters are looking forward to sharing the legacy of Gifford Pinchot with visitors while they enjoy the home, gardens, and landscape throughout the property. As the first American born professional forester, Pinchot was the founder and first chief of the USDA Forest Service, and a two-term governor of Pennsylvania.

            During Gifford Pinchot’s second term as governor, from 1931 to 1935, he took drastic measures to fulfill his campaign promise of improving public infrastructure in the state of Pennsylvania. Breaking ground in York County in 1931, Pinchot’s Rural Road Program employed 55,000 people who paved approximately 20,000 miles of road. Known colloquially as “Pinchot Roads,” this project was intended to “get the farmer out of the mud.” This slogan came about because most roads in the state were simple dirt roads, often unreliable due to inclement weather.

Beyond the tangible benefits of the project, it also provided employment opportunities for thousands of Pennsylvanians during a time when the national unemployment rate rose to 25 percent due to the Great Depression. While many of these roads have been expanded and improved over the years, original sections of Pinchot road can still be found in some rural parts of Pennsylvania. Repaved, but still recognizable.

            Learn more about the Pinchot family and their impact on the Conservation movement as well as Gifford Pinchot’s time as governor by visiting Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford, PA or on the web at

Jared Simister is an Interpretive Specialist with the USDA Forest Service at Grey Towers NHS in Milford, PA. Established in 1963 by a donation from the Pinchot family, Grey Towers serves as a conference and training center to help continue the legacy of Gifford Pinchot around the world, educate the public. The grounds are open to visitation from sunrise to sunset year round. For more information, visit, call 570-296-9630, or email