Conodoguinet Creek and Water Trail


What makes this Mill Dam so special to the Condoguinet Creek and Water Trail?

While the Heishman’s Mill Dam creates the opportunity to restore the water powered mill to working order, the mill dam creates an obstruction on the creek.   Due in part to this obstruction and the lack of public access points to the Water Trail, the Conodoguinet Creek Water Trail currently ends at North Middleton Park, off route 74 north of Carlisle. The Conodoguinet Creek is a waterway of the Commonwealth, which means that it is open to the public, however accessing the creek can be a problem when the property is privately owned.

The Mill owners have graciously agreed to work together with the Friends of Historic Heishman’s Mill to establish a safe and permanent portage around the mill and mill dam which will make possible a 25 mile westward expansion of the Trail from North Middleton Park to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s State Game Lands 169 (Newburg).  The Friends of Historic Heishman’s Mill is seeking funding through grants from both the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission  (PAFBC) and PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) to create the necessary improvements for the portage around the mill dam. Friends of Historic Heishman’s Mill has agreed to maintain and repair the portage for the life of the improvements.

Heritage of the Conodoguinet Creek

(Taken from the Cumberland County Planning Department’s, “Conodoguinet Creek Water Trail Guide”, 2017)

Early pioneers envisioned the waters of the Conodoguinet as an avenue of commerce linking the Susquehanna and Potomac rivers. Plans for a canal joining the headwaters of the Conodoguinet with the headwaters of the Conococheague Creek never materialized. However, the Conodoguinet was far from abandoned. The Conodoguinet Creek powered many mills. The mills of C u m b e r l a n d County were the small industrial centers of their time. Besides grain, cider, nails and wood, these mills refined diverse products such as sumac leaves, which were made into tanning and dyeing materials. Distilleries were also located at a number of these sites. In 1840, the Conodoguinet Creek provided power for more than 140 mills throughout the county. But by 1909, only 13 mills remained, and today the industry is largely forgotten. Today, the Conodoguinet Creek is most valued for its water resources and recreational opportunities. Communities in the eastern part of the Cumberland Valley pump millions of gallons per day from the creek to meet residential, commercial and industrial water demand. Much of the water returns to the stream, but not before passing through one of several treatment plants in the basin. On a typical summer day, one can also find avid canoeists and anglers enjoying the creek’s ribbon of greenery, alive with herons, kingfishers and other streamside creatures. Osprey and eagles may also be seen over the stream. In winter, after prolonged periods of cold, the creek’s waters freeze and give the Conodoguinet an idyllic Currier-and-Ives picture-postcard beauty

Conodoguinet Creek at North Middleton Park

For a detailed description of the current Conodoguinet Creek Water Trail see:

The Conodoguinet Creek Watershed is rich in history.  A commemorative booklet, A long way with many bends, was published by the Conodoguinet Creek Watershed Association in 2021 as well as a video story guide to the creek and it’s history