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Just north of the Mason Dixon Line in southcentral Pennsylvania, Franklin County broke away from Cumberland County to grow into a thriving location for business, while still maintaining a lot of its natural beauty. It is also a location filled with interesting stories and rich history. 

In his new book, Secrets of Franklin Mountain: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History Along Pennsylvania’s State Line, award-winning writer James Rada, Jr. tells the stories of Franklin County, its people, and its places.

Residents of Northern Frederick County are familiar with nearby Franklin County, Pennsylvania, as a place to shop or enjoy a local park. However, the county is filled with interesting stories of notable people, unusual events, and fascinating places. Secrets of Franklin County tells more than three dozen of these stories and features dozens of photographs.

You can scale buildings with a human fly; mastermind a jailbreak from the county jail; and survive tornadoes, floods, and blizzards.

Learn about the English duchess born in the county, the participant in the Lewis and Clark expedition from Franklin County, and the governors of three states who came from Franklin County.

There are stories of a building’s rent paid with a single rose each year, the two professional baseball teams Franklin County once had, and the wedding that took place in the jail.

These are just a few of the stories included in Secrets of Franklin County. They tell the tales of ordinary people living their lives under unusual conditions at times. Taken together, they paint a picture of the character of the people who live along the Mason Dixon Line in southcentral Pennsylvania.    

“These are stories that caught my attention in one way or another,” Rada said. “They aren’t the types of stories you find in history books about the county, but they are part of the area’s past.”

Rada considers “secrets” in this book as stories that aren’t widely known. He gave as an example a presentation he did at the Garrett County Historical Society about his book Secrets of Garrett County. He told the audience about a half a dozen of the “secrets” from the book.

“Before each one, I would ask, ‘Who has heard of…’ and say the secret. I thought that I would be preaching to the choir, and the group would know even more about the stories I was telling than I did. Most of the group had only heard about two of them,” he explained. “That’s the type of stories I look for, interesting, but not well-known.”

Secrets of Franklin County contains 54 black-and-white photographs and illustrations that help bring the stories to life.

“I love writing about history,” Rada said. “I love finding interesting and unusual stories about people and places, and I haven’t come across an area that doesn’t have plenty of these stories.”

Secrets of Franklin County is the seventh in a series of books Rada writes about regional topics. Other titles in the series include Secrets of Catoctin Mountain, Secrets of the Gettysburg Battlefield, and Secrets of the C&O Canal.

James Rada, Jr. is an award-winning writer who Midwest Book Review called “a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.” Small Press Bookwatch said that Rada’s coal-mining book, Saving Shallmar: Christmas Spirit in a Coal Town was “highly recommended.” He has two dozen writing awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, Maryland State Teachers Association, and Utah Ad Federation.

He has been writing about history for more than 20 years and still finds it fascinating and new.

“History is not boring. It’s full of love, adventure, comedy, and mysteries that still aren’t solved to this day. It’s those types of stories I like to write, and I believe I’ve pulled together a great collection of them for this book,” Rada said.

Rada is the author of 38 books, most history and historical fiction. His articles have been published in magazines like The History Channel Magazine, Boy’s Life, and Frederick Magazine. He also writes monthly for The Catoctin Banner.

Secrets of Franklin County: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History Along the Pennsylvania State Line retails for $19.95 and is available at local booksellers. For more information visit