Powdermill was established in 1956 to serve as a field station of Carnegie Museum of Natural History for long-term studies of natural populations — their life histories, behaviors, and ecological relationships.
Powdermill Nature Reserve is both a place and a philosophy. It stands as a symbol of man's visions — both scientist and philanthropist alike. The museum's need for a natural area which could be used as a laboratory and preserved for the study of natural processes was understood and outlined in 1948 by Dr. M. Graham Netting, then Assistant Director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Since he believed the Ligonier Valley to be the finest natural area in western Pennsylvania, he personally instituted a search for a suitable site for his vision.
Today, as the Reserve approaches its fifty-year anniversary, it is far more beautiful than when it was established, due to the natural growth of protected vegetation and the efforts of many supporters.