Wagner's Camp, located in southern Somerset County was originally a farm owned by the Christian Wilhelms. It was purchased in 1882 by William Wagner, great grandfather of the present owner. Appreciating the stand of many maple sugars on his land, William started the sugar camp. Many of those original sugar maples remain and some are over 200 years old. Being a cooper (craftsman) by trade, William made wooden spiles, keelers (wooden buckets), hauling casks, storage tanks, sugar troughs, sugar molds, sugar storage chests, shipping crates and barrels, mauls, paddles, and many other items used in the production of maple syrup. Some of the wooden equipment was branded with the WW (William Wagner) or "10" identifying his craftsmanship. His handmade kettle crane for lifting the iron kettles of syrup off the fire still remains in the original camp.

Tableland Fair Candy

Products taken to the Tableland State Fair

 

Joseph Wagner, William's son, purchased the farm from his father in 1919. Along with his wife, Jennie, "Joe" continued the family tradition of producing maple products. During this era, coal was mined on the farm to use for fuel for the production of the syrup. Some of the maple syrup was taken to the Tableland Fair, sponsored by Gimbels in Pittsburgh and attracted the attention of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Pittsburgh Press. These and other groups began coming to the sugar camp to see how the syrup was made. Their interest helped start the growth of the Maple Industry in the area.

 

Making Taffy

Leona and Jenny Wagner stir sugar in a wooden trough

 

 

 

In 1949, the farm was purchased by Leona and Dorothy from their father and they continued the tradition of producing maple products. In the late 1950's, the old wooden building was replaced by a cement block structure. The picturesque old building with hand hewn timber was the subject of a painting by artist Tom Schenck and a reproduction of the painting decorates some of the maple syrup containers still used today. Original keelers were replaced with plastic tubing. In 1978 a new stainless steel oil-fired evaporator replaced the original coal system which had been custom built in Pittsburgh. Even with this modernization, some of the techniques of our forefathers, such as the finishing of syrup in the iron kettles and the making of sugar in wooden troughs which continued until 1981.

 

In 1982, Dale Jeffery, the fourth generation of the Wagner family, built a modern camp beside the original structure. He implemented many new technologies of maple production such as a vacuum system to collect the sap, reverse osmosis to concentrate the sugar content of the sap, and various styles of evaporators to boil the sap to syrup. In an effort to improve and sustain production he planted a grove of "super sweet" maples directly above the sugar camp. In the not to distant future, these trees will be large enough to be tapped for production. Since 2004, the camp has been operated by Dale's sister, Sue. As ne technologies develop, we continue to modernize the process producing the highest quality products. At our camp, we offer the tourist and opportunity to see old as well as the new. We are fortunate to have our forefathers tools and many of his crafts on display in our antique room. We welcome all to visit our farm and will be glad to give you a tour of the camp.

 

As anyone can see, after 150 years of mapling we can say "Maple is our Heritage".