WWII Target: Altoona

The tale of the bold but fizzled 1942 Nazi plot to sabotage the Horseshoe Curve railroad landmark near Altoona, Pennsylvania, has been told in books and articles almost since the day the spy-thriller story began to unfold. First came a juvenile-fiction account in 1944 titled The Long Trains Roll by Stephen W. Meader. It recounts the story of Operation Pastorius, a wry allusion to the theme of...
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Cambria County: Coming Full Circle

Located in the highlands of west­-central Pennsylvania and amidst forbidding mountains – the Allegheny escarpment and the Laurel Ridge standing sentinel on its eastern and western borders­ – the territory that would become Cambria County was not easily accessible to early Pennsylvanians. Migrants bound westward during the second half of the eighteenth century avoided its...
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Transportation in Pennsylvania in 1776

During the Revolution, Pennsylvania was a central stage from the standpoint of geography, leadership, manpower, and supplies. Therefore, its transportation facilities were of special significance. The southeastern part of the State produced large quantities of the very materials needed by the Continental Army. A modest network of roads made possible the transporting of those materials to Valley...
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A Salute to the Bicentennial of the Keystone State

The current Bicentennial celebration commemorates not the birth of the United States, but the proclama­tion of thirteen British-American colonies that were “free and independent states” as of July 4, 17.76. When they formed a loose compact in 1761, their articles of confederation declared that “each state retains its sover­eignty, freedom and independence.” The...
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‘Stopper Hitches’ on the Allegheny Portage Railroad

The Allegheny Portage Railroad was built in 1834 to carry freight over the mountain from the ends of the canal, located at Holidays­burg and Johnstown. It was thirty-six miles long and reached the summit of the mountain at 2700 feet above sea level. There were ten Inclined Planes, five on each side of the mountain. These were numbered #1 to #10, beginning on the west side. These planes were of...
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Blair County: Center of Transportation

Blair County was among the last counties created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. One factor which delayed the establishment of an additional county in the southern portion of central Pennsylvania was geography. The rugged, eastern slopes of the Appalachian Mountains, in which Blair County was eventually located, diverted settlers to other areas. Only after the discovery of iron ore...
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Butler County: A Story in Diversity

The story of Butler County is one of many stories. It is the story of an unusual religious commune. Of an engineer whose invention made the Brooklyn Bridge a reality. Of a European baron who con­structed a German castle he named Bassenheim. Of an oil boom town which sprang up­ – and crashed nearly overnight. Of the birthplace of that be­loved American automotive institution, the jeep. Of...
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John White Geary’s White Star Identity Badge

John White Geary (1819–1873) was a courageous individual who gallantly served his country, fighting in both the Mexican War of 1846–1848 and the American Civil War, and dutifully led his Commonwealth as governor for two consecutive terms, from 1867 to 1873. Born near Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, he attended Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Washington County, from which he graduated in...
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