Historic South Mountain Fruit Belt

Historic South Mountain Fruit Belt.

Pennsylvania, United States


The South Mountain Fruit Belt is a defining element at the northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Mountains in south-central Pennsylvania, United States. For over a century, a specialized fruit industry has flourished here, contributing to a rich agrarian heritage. Recognizing its economic and cultural importance, a network of partners has emerged to sustain the Fruit Belt’s landscape character and quality of life.


Topography, geology, and climate uniquely converge along the eastern slope of Pennsylvania’s South Mountain ridge; loamy soil and sloping hills ensure sufficient drainage, while the ridge buffers harsh weather. This is an ideal fruit-growing condition; 20,000 acres of orchards annually produce more than 300 million pounds of apples and support a growing wine and agro-tourism industry. 


Due to its proximity to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Adams County is one of the fastest growing Pennsylvania counties. Thus development pressures are threatening the Fruit Belt’s unique landscape character and heritage. Collaborative efforts are focused on preserving the working landscape, sustaining the Fruit Belt’s economic viability, and enriching the local sense of place for the region’s citizens. Much work is underway:


The State Historic Preservation Office and Pennsylvania State University compiled a Historic Agriculture Context.

Interpretative signage has been installed at key Fruit Belt locations.
Partners are preparing documentation for National Register of Historic Places listing.
The Adams County Office of Planning and Development is preparing a Fruit Belt Economic Impact Study.
The South Mountain Partnership encourages stakeholders to protect, preserve, and enhance the local landscape.



For more information, click on the following links:


Adams County Land Conservancy - http://www.lcacnet.org/about/


The South Mountain Partnership –South Mountain is a Conservation Landscape, designated by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and managed as a public-private partnership between DCNR and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The Partnership is a coalition of citizens, non-profit organizations, businesses, academic institutions, and local and state government agencies working to conserve the South Mountain landscape’s resources to enrich the quality of life and sense of place of its citizens and communities.

www.southmountainpartnership.org http://www.adamscounty.us/Dept/Planning/Documents/SouthMountainCLI-StrategicPlan.pdf


Historic Context by State Historic Preservation Office & Penn State http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/pennsylvania%27s_agricultural_history/2584


Destination Gettysburg








Development Pressure. High quality of life and industry job opportunities (found at facilities such as the one on the right) spur modern development just outside of a historic town center (upper left).





 Fruit orchard blocks. Fields are broken into "blocks" according to fruit type or variety via stakes, wide spacing, or narrow access lanes. Constructed irrigation ponds and farms, similar to those in the photo, are located throughout the landscape. A typical farm has many outbuildings for produce storage and processing, and equipment storage and maintenance.







Industry in the Landscape. The South Mountain Fruit Belt demonstrates a cohesive industry where people live and work amid the orchards. Farms, markets, and industry complexes are located throughout the landscape.



By Katie Hess


Bureau for Historic Preservation

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Harrisburg PA