Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will dedicate an official Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) roadside marker on Saturday, September 14 at 11 AM in the Visitor Center Gallery. Following remarks by Stephen Edge, the grandson of Sanctuary Founder Rosalie Edge, and others, guests will be invited to walk the short distance for the unveiling.
The dedication honors the 1934 founding of Hawk Mountain as the world’s first refuge for birds of prey and coincides with the Sanctuary’s 85th anniversary as a landmark in the American Conservation Movement. The event is free and open to the public.
The historical marker will be placed along Hawk Mountain Road near the trailhead entrance. Other events that day include live raptor programs at 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00, a sale of native plants, and an exhibit of artwork from long-time Sanctuary volunteer and artist Fred Wetzel. The event also coincides with the Sanctuary’s annual hawk migration count, which takes place daily from August 15 to December 15 at the famed North Lookout. Depending on wind and weather, mid-September migrants may include broad-winged hawks, ospreys, eagles, American kestrels, and more.
Once a popular gathering place to shoot migrating hawks, it was in 1934 that Rosalie Edge leased the land, installed a warden named Maurice Broun, and created the first safe haven for passing hawks, eagles, and falcons. In addition to turning away gunners, Mrs. Edge directed Broun to record a daily tally of the number and type of hawks that passed overhead, which effectively established the first systematic count of raptor populations globally and launched the study of raptor migration science.
Today the 2,500-acre nature preserve is one of the best places in northeastern North America to watch and enjoy 16 species of migrating raptors that pass by each autumn. The Sanctuary trails and scenic overlooks are open to the public year round, and the forests also function as a learning center and field station used by educators and Hawk Mountain personnel and research associates for education and scientific study. The Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization: trail fees, membership dues, and other gifts and grants support its ongoing local-to-global research, professional training, and public education programs.
Applications for state historical markers are submitted by individuals or organizations, evaluated by a panel of independent experts from around the state, and then recommended to PHMC for final approval. Robyn Young of Media submitted the nomination for Hawk Mountain as part of her long-time hobby to identify and draw attention to historically significant women in Pennsylvania and their achievements. This is the 20th historical marker that Young has had dedicated in the Commonwealth since 2002.
“I wanted to honor Rosalie Edge because lots of people know about Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and now people will know about its founder, who was an honest, unselfish, independent pioneer for the protection of wildlife and for the conservation movement,” says Young.
Among other accolades, Edge’s grassroots activism helped establish Olympic and Kings Canyon National Parks and toughen protections at Yosemite and Yellowstone. But she always felt her biggest accomplishment was the founding of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
“Hawk Mountain is a true conservation success story…from shooting ground to sanctuary,” said director of development Mary Linkevich. “Today the Sanctuary is a model for other people and places globally, attracting the best and brightest young minds who visit for professional training. All Pennsylvanians can be proud to celebrate its founding.”