About the Inn
Nestled in a horseshoe curve on the National Wild & Scenic Clarion River at the mouth of Toms Run Valley, the Inn at Cook Forest is situated in an idyllic location. Surrounded by primeval forest with trees dating back to near the time when Christopher Columbus landed in America, the Inn is a reminder of the Cook family's long standing tradition of forest conservation.
Previously known as the Cook Homestead Bed & Breakfast and the Cook Forest Inn, the Inn was built c1870 by the Honorable Anthony and Rebecca Cook. Anthony, known by many as Judge and sometimes called Andrew, was the son of John Cook, the first Cook to settle in the area. Mr. Cook built his home with six large rooms downstairs, eleven bedrooms on the second floor and two extra-large rooms on the third floor to accommodate some of his employees.
Mr. Cook's home was passed down through his female descendants over the years. Although it functioned as a boarding house from 1941-1948, it was first operated as a Bed & Breakfast by Barb & Denny Kocher in 1994.
In 2008, the Kocher's retired and found a new buyer for the property, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks. Staff at Cook Forest State Park spent the next three years renovating the building with the intention to operate it as an Inn. The Inn at Cook Forest opened for its first guests in April 2012.
The Cook Family
Much can be said about the Cook family, but perhaps most importantly their foresight and perseverance is directly responsible for the existence of Cook Forest State Park. Cook Forest would have been logged along with the majority of Pennsylvania at the turn of the 20th century. Today Cook Forest is one of the premiere old growth forests in Pennsylvania and in the entire United States. With currently over 2,300 acres of old growth forest and numerous record trees, it is THE place to see ancient old growth white pine and hemlock stands in the Northeastern United States.
From the beginning, John Cook limited cuts of the tall white pine. Logs were felled in winter and skidded by oxen to Toms Run, where they floated through a series of bracket dams to the mouth of the stream. The logs were then fastened together into rafts, near the present day PA 36 bridge over the Clarion River, and floated to Pittsburgh, from which point workers returned overland laden with supplies.
John fathered seventeen children with his first and second wives. Of those children, Anthony and Philip became the most prominent. Largely through the efforts of Anthony (also known as: Judge, A. Cook, Andrew, Mr. Cook), the Forest Cathedral area of Cook Forest was preserved.
The conservation ethic that began with John Cook was passed down through the generations. Their generosity, perseverance and wisdom over the years made Cook Forest State Park an exquisite scenic and historic wonder recognized throughout the United States for its biological significance.