Bald Eagle State Park

Bald Eagle State Park is a 5,900-acre recreation and wildlife area in the Bald Eagle Valley of Centre County. It opened in 1971 and is known for its popular lake, which is surrounded by forests, wetlands, and fields.

The park is named for the Lenape chief, Woapalanne, which means “bald eagle.” Chief Woapalanne lived in the area briefly during the mid-18th century.

The 1,730-acre reservoir was created by damming the Bald Eagle Creek to control flooding downstream. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the 100-foot high and 1.3-mile wide Foster Joseph Sayers Dam in 1969. It forced the controversial displacement and destruction of many homes, farms, churches, and cemeteries in the area, as well as the relocation of old State Route 220.

Bald Eagle State Park is managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The dam and reservoir are named for Sayers, a Centre County resident and private first class in the U.S. Army, who received the Medal of Honor from Congress for his gallantry in 1944 during World War II. Born in Marsh Creek, Sayers was 20 years old when he was killed in action near Thionville, France.

During an attack on entrenched enemy forces, he ran up a steep hill and set up a machine gun, attracting fire while other soldiers in his unit reached their objective. According to the Medal of Honor citation, Sayers embodied the “indomitable fighting spirit, aggressiveness, and supreme devotion to duty live on as an example of the highest traditions of the military service.”

Bald Eagle State Park has a diverse geology which provides habitat for a variety of wildlife. The lake is home to yellow perch, small- and large-mouth bass, black crappie, and other warm-water species.

The park’s location attracts a large array of birds, including finches, cardinals, warblers, flycatchers, bluebirds, herons, wood ducks, ospreys, and bald eagles. Animals in the park include gray squirrels, rabbits, porcupines, bobcats, white-tailed deer, and black bears.

Recreational activities include boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking, biking, and camping. The park has 14 miles of trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, including the Butterfly and the Lakeside trails. Hunting is permitted in 4,900 acres of the park.

The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle, which overlooks the lake, has sixteen guest rooms and meeting spaces. The inn is designed to be ecologically sound and was awarded a LEED Gold Rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Ford Risley


Sources:

Bald Eagle State Park. https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/BaldEagleStatePark/Pages/default.aspx (Accessed May 31, 2021).

United States Army Medal of Honor. https://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/keeble/medal/citations22.htm#S (Accessed May 31, 2021).


First Published: June 13, 2021

Last Modified: September 29, 2021