Bordner Cabin 
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It's all about Clean Water.  Post your pictures of our events, water conservation, floods, pollution.  Share your memories about the Swatara....  Our projects and areas of interest include the Bordner Cabin, Eagle Scout Projects, PA Conservation Corps, Swatara State Park, Swatara River, Swatara Sojourn, Swatara Water Trail, Tenaska, Swatara Watershed Park, and Water Companies

 Planning a Swatara Outing? Tips:

bullet Updated Map  
bullet Swatara Water Trail map and guide 7MB 10.12.2017.pdf
bullet Public     access points about every 7 miles.

For comparison, when the Harpers gauge at our launch @ 1929 Blacks Bridge Road, Annville reads the following heights:

5.5’, the Road to site #1 is almost covered, not             accessible and partly flooded;  


7’ our ramp is covered to the top gravel border; 


9’ the swell puts water onto sites 1-4 & site 8; and


10.56', only sites 26-35 do not flood. 

Depth  USGS Guages  National Weather Service provides forecasts for Harper's and Hershey gauges. Check the gauge nearest your start point.  Beginners should reschedule at 2.2' deep.  Reschedule if experienced, but water is rising between 3.5' & 4', or below .4'.  Kayaks may float a bit lower.  Memorial Lake is an option when the Swatara is too high or too low. 

bulletUse caution at dams:  With groups, avoid low-head dam in Jonestown.  Uneven portage on left bank, which disappears  into tree line in high water.  Hershey dam portage is also on the left.  Long, but flat, mowed route.  Take out at feeder stream on left before warning sign.
bulletU-Tow Canoes Available

Canoe Use agreement: CANOE USE CONTRACT.pdf


Seasonal Primitive Camping Camp/2019 Campsite Agreement.pdf  Fishing, hiking, picnicking 


Visit the Bordner Cabin in Swatara State Park:  Bordner Cabin Drive thru Swatara State Park 9AM-3PM the 2nd Fri & Sat monthly & 4th Fri & Sat Mar, Apr, Sep & Oct.


Most recent Newsletter: 

2017 Swatara News .pub.pdf


newsletters/Swatara News 2018 final.pdf



Envisioning an Environmental Legacy for the Swatara EELS, the Book in pdf file


Mills and Bank Barns Mills and Bank Barns Book.pdf\


 Minutes/Statement of Importance of the Swatara Creek.pdf

About the Swatara Watershed


Watershed Description


Virtual Driving Tour


Maps of the Watershed


Swatara State Park (position papers: Bordner Cabin and Old State Road


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Armar Bordner Cabin

Drive thru Swatara State Park 9AM-3PM the 2nd Fri & Sat monthly & 4th Fri & Sat Mar, Apr, Sep & Oct.

YouTube 17:37 on the Bordner Cabin narrated by 89 year old Armar Bordner Interview 1993

YouTube channel with interviews of Armar and people who knew him:

Drone Footage


Take a Hike map to the Bordner Cabin            

Armar Bordner Masters Thesis Vocational Schools.pdf


The Bordner Cabin was a "point of interest" on the proposed Heritage Trail in Swatara State Park and is a point of interest on the Swatara Water Trail; a place for artists to paint nature; a picnic spot; or a platform for people to sit and gaze at the falls. 

Bordner's Cabin was created from oak logs and stone found on the site.  Each log and stone is masterfully hand hewn or cut.  Look closely at the bottom side of each log, and you will see a convex arch running the length of each log allowing the upper log to sit snuggly upon the log underneath.  Between each log, you will find the original horse hair chinking.  Look down the side of a stone wall or the fireplace, and you'll see how straight the stone for the walls was cut.  Most homes and barns in the area use field stone that may be rounded or jagged, but not cut with precision.  Notice the natural heat-a-laters in the sides of the fireplace.  Cool air was drawn into the bottom holes as the warmed air escaped through the top holes. 

In addition to growing up at the Coleman and Brock estate where Stella, his mother, cooked for Deborah Norris Coleman Brock, Armar studied Frank Lloyd Wright, and construction pictures show logs that cantilever towards Aycriggs Falls.  Piers stabilize the cantilever system.  No doubt, Armar picked up skills from master craftsmen who worked for the Colemans and Brocks, visited National Parks, and other architectural sites, to combine everything he liked into one cabin that he called home.

Next, the only deviation we can determine from the original blueprints is a lowered floor in what was Armar's drafting room over the garage.  From the outside, you can see where a window was filled in with logs.  Within the room, you can see where logs were cut off about 2' up the side walls.  Also, the rafters are notched slightly to raise the height of the ceiling in this room.

In the drafting room, there's a trap door where, during nasty weather, he could hand groceries or firewood up to Peg, his wife. 

The master bedroom was along Rattling Run, and Linda, Armar's daughter, used the middle room.  Guests stayed in the balcony room.  Look on the floor, and you'll see lines were built-in cupboards ran the length of each side. 

Armar had fought eminent domain by the old DER who wanted to build Swatara State Park and a dam, and was able to live out his life in his hand-built home.  He died looking up at Aycrigg's Falls in a bed in front of the fireplace, .

Saving the building from condemnation and dismantling, on June 12, 2006, Swatara Watershed Association signed and returned their first lease to DCNR, which was returned fully executed in August 2006.  Repairs to Labor and Industry standards were completed in December 2015.  A second 10-year lease was executed through December 31, 2025.  Please consider a donation to help with ongoing maintenance, supplies and/or volunteer to adopt the cabin for a month.  Projects to be funded:  a porta-potty May 1 through October 31 annually, walkway, repair fireplace, stain building, solar tubes at entrance.

Please follow all Park rules.  Do not enter the Park before sunrise.  Exit the Park by sunset.  Carry out your trash....

Who Volunteers wanted to help with projects and maintenance at the Bordner Cabin.  Please fill in and forward the Adopt-A-Cabin form. Email to .

Wish List of Cabin projects:  You have an opportunity to sponsor a project with a bequest, donation, and/or your gift of time and talent to help us take the Bordner Cabin to a condition that will last another 7 decades so that future generations will be able to learn, explore, and appreciate real workmanship with a passion.  So what would we like done?


Restore spokes in the wagon wheels by Aycrigg's Falls.


Build a bench for the porch.


Repair the chimney.


Improve the walkway, perhaps with a pebbled epoxy finish.


Install two Amish solar lights inside the entrance to brighten the cabin and stairs on overcast days.


Stain the Bordner Cabin to preserve the hand-hewn oak logs.

Stewards for all months!  J Adopt-A-Cabin to monitor and spruce up for a month (sweep, pick up litter, pull weeds, clean the Plexiglas with a special solution, deter vandals and graffiti with your presence, share the history and answer questions posed by visitors) Take along a broom, dust pan, hammer and nails:


January, Dick and June Blouch


February, Don and Stephanie Mock


March, Bob Arnold, Dave & Ann Lasky

bullet bullet

April Becky L. Soliday & Pete Silldorff
May, Dale & Marty Miller


June Lisa Carter, Joan and Tom Hawk, Mike Willeman


July, Ed and Elaine Ludwig, Mike Willeman


August, Marta Trainer & husband Mike


Sept, LC Conservation District.


October Becky L. Soliday


November Bill and Genie Potters


December Fred Rogers

Many of the cabin users are there Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 12-6 with the heaviest usage 12-4.  Adopt-a-cabin volunteers are encouraged to visit during those hours to garner support and stewardship for the cabin.   

Where: Bordner Cabin—Take Route 72 north from the City of Lebanon.  Continue north through the Lickdale intersection past Swift Trucking. 

  1. At the next intersection, turn right onto Monroe Valley Road (towards the golf course), then left onto Old State Road to Swatara State Park, under the Route 81 bridges to the Appalachian Trail/Waterville bridge ( a total of 2.7 miles).  Park, and hike, bike, ski, or horseback ride another 2.6 miles past the Appalachian Trail Bridge toward Schuykill County.  The cabin lane is on your right. 

  2. From Swopes Valley Road, hike on the Rail Trail (Old State Road/Bear Hole Trail) about 2.5 miles toward Lebanon.  After the electricity lines stop, the lane to the Bordner Cabin is on your left.  Look for large stones just past the driveway, and Rattling Run, which passes through culverts under the road.

  3. The shortest route, (1.6 miles) to hike in is from the Sand Siding Trailhead.  The parking lot is about one-half mile down a dirt road that enters the Swatara State Park from Route 72 just south of Twin Grove Park, 1445 Suedburg Rd., Pine Grove PA  17963.  Hike the Rail Trail towards Lebanon to a Park Bench.  Turn left, and cross the new footbridge across the Swatara Creek.  Continue walking to a "T" in the road, which is Old State Road/Bear Hole Trail.  Turn Left.  Walk about .6 miles crossing two streams to the Bordner Cabin on your right.  The second stream is Rattling Run, which runs from Aycriggs Falls alongside the Bordner Cabin.

Architecture   Partners & Projects    Progress   History  Adopt-A-Cabin    Donations    Your Story    Roofing Instructions  Rules


Original Blue Prints

Approved Labor & Industry Architectural Drawings: 

Projects/Bordner Cabin/Bordner Cabin ext stairrail.pdf

Projects/Bordner Cabin/Bordner Cabin loft stairs r.pdf

Projects/Bordner Cabin/Bordner Cabin New Columns.pdf

Projects/Bordner Cabin/Bordner Cabin plexiglass.pdf

Projects/Bordner Cabin/Bordner Cabin Porch Floor.pdf

Projects/Bordner Cabin/Bordner Cabin Porch Structu.pdf

Projects/Bordner Cabin/Bordner Cabin Shed.pdf

Projects/Bordner Cabin/Bordner Cabin steps&door.pdf

Projects/Bordner Cabin/Bordner Cabin wood plank.pdf

To volunteer or make a donation, contact the Swatara Watershed Association at (717)644-4698, mail a check to SWA, 2302 Guilford St., Lebanon PA  17046, or for more information.  We respectfully request that you remember the Swatara Watershed Association in your will.  Your generous support will ensure that our Clean Water projects will benefit generations to come.  Thank you. 


The Bordner Cabin is created in the Rustic style of architecture, which is defined by the National Park Service as structures built between 1916 - 1942 such as a log cabin that is so highly stylized in its attempt to be non-intrusive that it attracts the immediate attention of those who are accustomed to the simplicity and frequent sterility of contemporary architecture. It may be built of over-sized, rough-hewn logs and stones with its obviously intensive use of hand labor and its clear rejection of the regularity and symmetry of the industrial world, marking it as the work of another age, the product of an attitude far removed from our own.  Perhaps for the first time in the history of American architecture, a building became an accessory to nature... Early pioneer and regional building techniques were revived because it was thought that a structure employing native materials blended best with the environment... 

A survey of significant rustic structures is needed. Often rustic structures are too young (less than fifty years) to receive proper attention under the current criteria of the National Register of Historic Places. Each year a few disappear and a good many more are hopelessly altered by renovation or remodeling done without sensitivity to the original design. In this regard the authors can only concur with Ms. Wilson: "The rustic timber and stone buildings found in our national parks...represent an important irreplaceable architectural resource which should be used and conserved. "3

1. National Park Service, Park Structures and Facilities (Washington, D.C>: Government Printing Office, 1935), 3.
2. Merrill Ann Wilson, "Rustic Architecture: The National Park Style," Trends, (July August September, 1976), 4-5.
3. Ibid., 7.

Recently acquired donation:

89-year old Armar Bordner interview in 1993 by Jim Schucker and Don Rhoades.

Courtesy of the Lebanon County Historical Society

Enhanced by Jo Ellen Litz 6.27.2015

Armar experienced living with Horace and Deborah Norris Coleman (Mrs. Horace Brock)

  1.                       27:56.71  Armar was born in Lickdale.

  2.                       28:25.23  Armar graduated from Lebanon High School in 1924.

  3.                       28:41.69  Armar went to Millersville University to be a school teacher.

  4.                       29:34.85  After 2 years, Armar went to Penn State.

  5.                      31:20.77  After seeing his student s make more money than he did, Armar worked as a draftsman in industry for 16 years.

  6.                      32:47.46  Armar also taught his final 4 years at Northern Lebanon High School, where he retired with a pension.

  7.                      32:58.35  Armar built his cabin over 2 years, and finished in 1939.

  8.                      33:48.72  The cabin is built from oak trees found on the site.

  9.                      37:02.61  As a kid, Armar also worked for Boyer Printing.

  10.                      37:48.61  Armar sold 4 lots from his over 400-acre property.

  11.                      38:22.55  When the State took it over in 1977, Armar had over 100 acres remaining.

  12.                      39:09.90  Armar thought a dam wasn't feasible.

  13.                      45:59.83  They took 200 properties for Swatara State Park.

  14.                      46:40.80  Mytan Vassil knocked down the homes for Swatara State Park.

  15.                      50:43.59  Growing up, Armar lived East of Lickdale near the covered bridge.

  16.                      52:20.43  The L&T hit a woman and killed her.

  17.                      53:27.43  Dr. Samuel Bordner Groh DDS.

  18.                      54:21.72  Francis Ditzler visited Armar from time to time.


Site Work Hours are 8am until 3pm. We must be off of the trail and secured by 4pm. Mike Willeman is our project manager. Volunteers welcome. A signed liability release is required. During repairs, the public will not be able to access the cabin. Please do not cross the yellow caution tape.

WEEK ONE : September 8-10
- Install 18" x 18" x 8" Concrete Pads in (11) Locations...
- September 13 : Volunteer Project Walkthrough at Cabin
- September 13 : fabricate Plexiglas panels. fabricate door panel 9AM-1PM.
WEEK TWO : September 14-18
- Install New 6x6 Wood Post/Columns on 18" x 18" x 8" Concrete Pads in (11) Locations
to Support Log Floor Joists.
- Install New Door Panel at Opening to Garage Area (fabricate door offsite)
- Installed 42" High Plexiglas Panels to Existing Railing.
- September 19 & 20 : fabricate wall panels for job johny
WEEK THREE : September 21-25
- Install New Handrail at Existing Stairway to Loft Area (recreate original, fabricate offsite)
- Build Porta-Potty Shed. (some fabrication offsite)
- Install Stream Flow Diffusion Damn Up-Stream of Piers & Wall Rebuild Work Area.
- Install New Handrail at Existing Exterior Stone Steps.
WEEK FOUR : September 28 - October 2
- Remove Damaged Stone and Concrete Piers Under Porch. (piers 2 & 3). Install Concrete
Retaining Wall and Reinforced Concrete Piers. Piers and Retaining Wall to Have Stone
Veneer Anchored to Concrete with Masonry Ties.
Backfill Behind Retaining Wall and Install Reinforced Concrete Slab to Protect House
- Rebuild Collapsed Area in Retaining Wall, South of Porch.
- October 3 & 4 : stain/treat floor boards
WEEK FIVE : October 5-9
- Replace Wood Plank Fencing Between Piers and Posts Under Porch.
- Install New Porch Railing. top of railing at 42" A.F.F. Minimum Opening 4".
- Porch Floor is 3/4" Planks with Space Between Planks. Install Tongue and Groove Floor
Boards Over Existing.
WEEK SIX : October 12-16
- Punch List Items and Site Clean Up.

Can't help physically, but would like to make a donation for the cause? Please make checks payable to Swatara Watershed Association, 2302 Guilford St., Lebanon PA 17046, or use PayPal from this website.  (left column)