Day Tripper: Downtown Waynesboro
Waynesboro is Rich with History and Tradition
Fall is fabulous in Waynesboro PA, situated in the southeastern part of Franklin County. The vibrant beauty of South Mountain is exceptional in the fall, and what better time to visit than downtown Waynesboro’s Market Day, October 1, 2022. It is a great celebration of small-town America and everything fall. With a downtown district recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, it is a one-of-a-kind backdrop for family fun with food and craft vendors, a chili cook-off, a scarecrow contest, music, and fun and games for kids.
Waynesboro originated with the purchase of land in 1751 by John Wallace, and through the years was known as Wallacetown, Mount Vernon, and Waynesburg. Finally, in 1831, the name became Waynesboro when the borough was incorporated. The name honors General Anthony Wayne. John Wallace’s son, also John Wallace, named the town for General Anthony Wayne after serving under his command in the Revolutionary War.
Along with early American history, Waynesboro has both Underground Railroad and Civil War era history. Its proximity to the Mason Dixon Line and the ridge line of the South Mountain made the area a thoroughfare for freedom seekers. It offers natural limestone caves and also footpaths, which today are part of the Appalachian Trail. The greater Waynesboro area was named the 34th Appalachian Trail Community in 2014.
Waynesboro’s Civil War history correlates to the Invasion of Pennsylvania in June 1863 and the Battle of Gettysburg. Waynesboro spent fifteen days under the Confederate flag in late June to early July 1863. The Battle of Monterey Pass was fought on and along the Blue Ridge Summit on the retreat from the Battle of Gettysburg during the late hours of July 4 and early hours of July 5. The Monterey Pass Battlefield Park is more than 125 acres of nature, history, and recreation. It pairs well with any visit to Waynesboro.
Annually, Waynesboro holds a Main Street Scarecrow Contest where businesses, non-profits, and civic and youth groups pair up imagination and craftiness to create entries that are mounted on the Main Street lamp posts. It is so much fun to see all the creativity during Market Day. Past entries included lots of twists of the traditional scarecrow and some appearances by Elvis Scarecrow, Tooth Fairy Scarecrow, and Benjamin Franklin Scarecrow.
While checking out the scarecrows on Main Street, take the opportunity to learn a little more about the history and lovely buildings of Main Street Waynesboro with the Waynesboro Historical Society’s Walk of History. Copies are always available at the Mainstreet Waynesboro, Inc. office, 13 West Main Street.
Waynesboro was recently named by Livability.com as one of the top 11 up-and-coming places to live in Pennsylvania. Waynesboro’s resurgence is a labor of love, kicked off by the start of the Arts Alliance of Greater Waynesboro, created ten years ago. The Arts Alliance focused on the power of art in strengthening quality of life and economic development. Destination ARTS, one of the Arts Alliance’s successful, early efforts, used art in empty store fronts and developed curated galleries to synergize revitalization. Today, visitors enjoy quality art in a gallery setting at Gallery 50, West 42 Arts, and Gallery 35 East, live music on Friday evenings at Music Makers plus demonstrations by artists and a variety of workshops.
Downtown partner Main Street Waynesboro added its strength to the Arts Alliance’s efforts and supported the Waynesboro Community Theatre Project, helping to raise $650,000 to renovate the Waynesboro movie theatre. The theatre was known in earlier days as the Arcade Theatre and dated back to 1916. Another transformative project is Main Street Park at 21 East Main Street. It is home to the Market in the Park, a farmers’ market with 35-plus vendors from May through October, as well as the site of live entertainment and activity in every season of the year.
Antiquing is another anchor of Waynesboro. The community offers a Passport to Antiquing, and it is a great way to spread out across southern Franklin County. Another way to explore more of Franklin County is the Barn Quilt Trail, which is featured adjacent to several of the stops included on the antique passport. Walkways display several barn quilt squares and showcase vignettes of Waynesboro’s history.