A History of the York-Pullman Automobile

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, there were a number of manufacturers in eastern Pennsylvania producing both passenger cars and trucks. Much of the activity centered around Reading, where in addition to the famous Duryea, the Acme, Boss, Daniels, Dile, Meteor, Middlebury, Reber, Riviera, Snader and S.G.V., not to mention the “Read­ing Steamer,” were made – all...
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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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Lee of Conshohocken

Shortly after the end of World War II, Pope Pius XII received a small group of GIs from the U.S. Occupation Force. Following the benediction. he asked them where they lived in America. “New York, New York,” answered one. “Very big … bigger even than Rome,” the Pontiff replied as he turned to another, “And you?” “California, Los Angeles.”...
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America’s Dream Highway

Almost no one could have foreseen, fifty years ago, that an experiment in trans­portation engineering mean­dering across the rugged southern Alleghenies could profoundly affect the way tens of millions of Americans tra­vel. But from the very day it opened on October 1, 1940, the Pennsylvania Turnpike did just that – despite the fact that its first section ran from nowhere to nowhere. The...
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Those Beautiful Bodies of Yesteryear

On a balmy spring day in 1880, a seventeen-year-old youth from Ire­land’s County Galway arrived at Boston. An orphan with scant formal education, he had spent his meager savings for the transatlantic ship passage. He had neither friends nor close relatives in the United States. He did not even have the promise of a job. But Joseph J. Derham knew he would succeed. America was the golden...
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Moonbeams and B-Movies: The Rise and Fall of the Drive-In Theater

In June 1933, J. Borton Weeks, president of the Keystone Automobile Club, wrote to Richard Hollingshead, Jr., a Camden, New Jersey, businessman, congratulating him on a project “finely conceived and splendidly executed for the convenience, comfort, and entertainment of the motoring public.” Weeks predicted that Hollingshead’s brilliant venture would be copied across the country...
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Larger than Life Along the Lincoln Highway

What are unsuspecting motorists’ typical reactions when they encounter a seven-foot praying mantis standing alongside a highway? Or a giant shoe, three stories tall? How about a huge steamboat, complete with paddlewheels, miles from navigable waterways? They might range from exclamation – “wow!” – to sheer dis­dain – “tourist trap!” – but the...
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Now Presenting American’s Oldest Playhouse: The Walnut Street Theatre

It all started with the circus. Early in the nineteenth century, the New Circus, as it was called, was located at the corner of Walnut and Ninth Streets in Philadelphia, several blocks west of the State House (now Independence Hall). On February 2, 1809, an advertisement in the newspaper Aurora announced that “Messrs. Pepin and Breschard, Professors of the art of Horsemanship and agility,...
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My Memories of Harrisburg and the Flood of ’36

In 1923, I was four years old when my family moved from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. My father, Einar Barfod, had been appointed chief investigator in the securities department of Pennsylvania’s ban.king department by Governor Gifford Pinchot. My earliest memory of Harrisburg was a summer when my mother hired a farmer to plow the field next to our house, then having all the neighborhood...
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Pennsylvanians-at-Arms: The Pennsylvania Military Museum

From provincial militia units that predate the American Revolution to this very day, Pennsylvanians have mustered their courage and taken up arms to defend their homes, defeat tyranny abroad, and champion the freedom of people at home and throughout the world. By accepting their call to duty, Pennsylvania’s brave citizen-soldiers have built a proud military tradition that, ironically, grew...
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