General Thomas L. Kane

History of Kane

Nestled at the edge of the Allegheny National Forest, Kane has a rich history. It was named for the Civil War leader of Pennsylvania’s Bucktail Regiment, Thomas L. Kane. General Kane founded the town in the early 1860s, and originally called the area “Clarion Summit,” then it became “Kane Summit” and finally “Kane.” General Kane was wounded in battle and was taken as a prisoner of war as well. He also fought at the Battle of Gettysburg, and is revered by the Mormons for single-handedly helping avert an all-out war between the Mormons and the U.S. government in the late 1800s. A county in Utah is named for him, and a full-size statue of Kane occupies a central position in the rotunda of the Utah State Capital building in Salt Lake City. Although not a Mormon himself, General Kane was repulsed by the persecution of the Mormons and fought for their human rights. Kane also was a friend of several U.S. Presidents, including Grant, Buchanan, and Polk.

General Kane was not the only well known Kane family member. His older brother was Elisha Kent Kane, America’s most prominent Arctic explorer before the Civil War. The General’s wife, Elizabeth and three of their four children became physicians in Kane. Their oldest son, Evan O’Neil Kane, M.D., made medical history twice when he demonstrated the efficacy of local anesthesia by performing surgery on himself–once repairing an inguinal hernia, and once removing his own appendix.

Kane is located on the Allegheny Plateau and known as the Black Cherry Capital of the World. The story of the black cherry dates to the turn of the 20th century, when the local forests were clear cut. The light that hit the forest floor allowed for the explosion of the Black Cherry species. Within a 50 mile circumference from Kane, some of the best cherry veneer in the world can be found. This exceptional veneer is turned into fine furniture and cabinets and sold all over the world.  

With an average snowfall of 105” a year and chilly winter temperatures, Kane is also referred to as the “Icebox of Pennsylvania.” During the summer months, allergy suffers flock to Kane to enjoy the naturally low pollen counts and the fresh mountain air. The local forests provide a heat barrier, and allow local residents to claim that we are “air conditioned by nature.”