Today’s society has many ways to invest your money, but land is among the most underestimated. Many people consider it a risky and unprofitable investment, and it is a terrible myth because vacant land can generate greater financial resources. Unsurprisingly, land remains a popular investment among the privileged, with the country’s wealthiest individuals purchasing property at dizzying speed.

Driving across Pennsylvania, you will see that it is highly forested. It is believed that the government owns most of our forestland, but in reality, the federal government owns 27.1% of all land in the United States. A large amount of this is owned by private individuals. But who are the largest landowners in the Keystone State? This article will uncover Pennsylvania’s two largest landowners and other interesting facts.

1. The Collins Family – 311,395 Acres

Longstreet Observation Tower in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The Collins Family owns 311,395 acres of land in Pennsylvania.

©iStock.com/Jon Bilous

The Collins Family is the largest private land owner in Pennsylvania, owning 311,395 acres in northern California and western Pennsylvania. They inherited land from the late Truman Collins, the state’s largest landholder, before his death in 1914.

The Collins Companies is a family-owned American forest products firm founded on July 28, 1855. Collins was the first privately held forest products firm based in Portland, Oregon, to have all its hardwood and softwood forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Aside from its forests and sawmills, Collins also creates siding and trim, particleboard, hardwood, and softwood timber and runs retail hardware and lumber yards in northern California. The divisions comprise Collins Pine Company, Kane Hardwood, Collins Hardwood LLC, Collins Products LLC, Collins Builders Supply, and the Almanor Railroad.

How Did the Collins Companies Start?

Truman Doud (TD) Collins founded the Collins Companies in 1855 in Turkey Run, near Whig Hill, Pennsylvania. He and five others, including his brother, Joseph Van Halen (JV) Collins, purchased a steam mill and timber from John Alexander. By 1864, TD Collins had bought out the remaining shareholders, including his brother.

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Before his death in 1914, TD Collins owned many sawmills in Pennsylvania’s Tionesta Valley. He had a son, Everell Stanton (ES) Collins with his wife Mary Stanton Collins. After TD’s death, Everell took over the corporation. He expanded the enterprise westward, acquiring forestlands in northern California, Washington, and Oregon. By the time ES Collins died in 1940, he had overseen the operations of 15 forestry, logging, railroad, and pulp and paper enterprises in four states and relocated the corporate headquarters from Pennsylvania to Portland, Oregon.

Truman W. Collins succeeded his father as president, and he began using sustainable forest management principles throughout his years in the timber industry. Truman Collins carried on the family’s charitable endeavors, including establishing the Collins Foundation, the Collins Medical Trust, and the Collins/McDonald Trust, among others.

After Truman died in 1963, Elmer Goudy, Truman’s brother-in-law, assumed the presidency, succeeded by his son, Alan Collins Goudy. Maribeth Wilson Collins, Truman’s wife, also became active in the company, first as president of The Collins Foundation and eventually as Chair of the Board of The Collins Companies.

How Do the Collins Companies Deal With Environmental Care?

The Collins Companies has pledged to be responsible land and resource management partners with a change-through-leadership approach. According to Collins, independent certification of forest areas is the greatest way to ensure the overall survival of the forest ecosystem.

The Collins Companies began incorporating The Natural Step principles in 1997, an international organization dedicated to helping organizations worldwide use a systems-based approach to sustainable practices. By embracing The Natural Step principles, Collins seeks to bring sustainability to all of its business functions.

The Collins Companies joined Climate Leaders, a US Environmental Protection Agency partnership, to create climate change policies as part of their dedication to land and resource management.

2. Kip Fulks – 7,150 Acres

Kip Fulks, co-owner of sportswear company Under Armour, owns a sprawling Pennsylvania hunting estate totaling 7,150 acres. Fulks purchased the property known as North Fork Lodge in 2007 for around $7.8 million as a hunting estate and personal family getaway. The property is located in Elk County, Pennsylvania, about three hours from Pittsburgh and five hours from Philadelphia. The land, adjacent to the Allegheny National Forest, dates back a hundred years. It was built in the 1920s as a hunting lodge and still has that feel.

Kip Fulks was captivated by the size — not only in terms of land but also the number of accommodations. It also comprises an adjacent kitchen and dining facility with additional lodging, a ski hut, and an auxiliary building. Among the natural pleasures are a lake, a stocked bass pond, a private ski slope, skeet and trap shooting sites, and lots of space for deer, bear, and turkey hunting. In addition, the estate boasts over 150 kilometers (93 miles) of private roads and several new bridges.

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