The Source: Native American Quarries in Pennsylvania

Sitting in a folding chair in front of an informational table at the annual Danville Heritage Festival, PennDOT archaeologist Susanne Haney considers an inch-and-a-half-thick, dinner-platesized fragment of metarhyolite. Susanne is one of the most accomplished flintknappers I know. Flintknapping is the prehistoric art of producing stone tools by shaping various kinds of suitable rock with stone...
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High on a Mountain: Pennsylvania’s Legacy of Country Music

In 1607 Great Britain commenced the establishment of two colonial plantations. One of these was Jamestown in Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America. The other was much closer to home. The Ulster plantation was formed in the nine northern counties of Ireland. The goal of the colony was, in part, to extend British and Anglican hegemony over the Catholic and...
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Castanea … From Blight to Backcross Breeding

Not far from my home at the base of the South Mountain in Cumberland County, there is a wide spot in the road where you can park a couple cars at the edge of a block of public land. From that place, the visible but overgrown bed of a Colonial-era haul road ascends the mountain. Scattered along the road are the small, flat and circular remains of 18th- and 19th-century charcoal kilns that...
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“Restless Progress in America”: Drawing the Mason-Dixon Line

“When I found I had crossed that line,” recalled Harriet Tubman, “I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything . . . I felt like I was in Heaven.” Such was the power of the Mason-Dixon Line. Within 75 years of its completion to resolve an eight-decade-long dispute between two colonial proprietors, a boundary line drawn in the 1760s by two English...
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The Ship Hotel: Afloat with the Lincoln Highway’s Most Unusual Landmark

In 1931 the first and only baby was born at the Grand View Point Hotel, 18 miles west of Bedford, Bedford County. Little Clara was the pride of her grandfather Herbert J. Paulson (1874-1973), a Dutch immigrant who had built the hotel on the side of a mountain along the winding, two-lane Lincoln Highway. Clara grew up in the hotel, which “Captain” Paulson turned into the ship-shaped...
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Celebrating a Century and a Half: The Geologic Survey

The Pennsylvania Geo­logical Survey, offi­cially known today as the Bureau of Topo­graphic and Geologic Survey, and one of the bureaus of the Department of Environmental Resources, is one of only a very few of the Common­wealth’s executive branch agencies whose history can be traced to the first half of the nineteenth century. Created in 1836, the survey spawned three subsequent geologic...
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The French in Northwest Pennsylvania, 1753-1759

Every summer numerous va­cationers from both within and beyond Pennsylvania’s borders come to the northwest comer of the state to use the recreational facilities of Presque Isle State Park. Probably few of the summer visitors sunning themselves along the state park’s beaches, or swimming in Lake Erie, pause to ask themselves how the park and peninsula came to bear a French name. It...
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Currents

Doctor! Doctor! During the eighteenth century, and throughout much of the nineteenth cen­tury, most Americans attempted to heal themselves, as their ancestors had for centuries. Professional medical assis­tance was either too far away, too expensive, or both, and even affluent and urban families usually engaged in some sort of home health care before the doctor was summoned. Such care was...
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Soaring Above “This School in the Clouds”

Each fall, when north­west winds blast down from Canada, knowledgeable bird watchers hurriedly make their way to the Appalachian Mountain ridges that zig west, then zag south through the center of the Keystone State. Binoculars in hand, they climb and hike the rocky ridge tops to await the thousands of hawks, eagles, and falcons flying south­ward. Autumn’s winds have beckoned people to...
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Hummelstown Brownstone: A Victorian Era Treasure

Builders and contractors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries prized brownstone as one of the best and most versatile masonry materials in the United States. Whether used for curbing, windowsills,steps, lintels, stoops, foundations, and tombstones, or to grace the finest mansions as intricately carved statues or coping, brownstone filled the bill. Eminent American architects...
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