Clearfield County: Land of Natural Resources

Clearfield County, believed named for the cleared fields found by early settlers in the area, belies its name; 83 percent of the county’s 1,143.5 square miles is still forested today. Its present timber, however, is second and third growth. Although its forest lands support some lumbering, the county’s economic life depends mostly upon coal and clay in­dustries and the manufacture of...
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The All-Too-Youthful Proletarians: Breaker Boys of the Anthracite Coal Region in the Early 1900s

Many Pennsylvanians have long forgotten one of the state’s major claims to national prominence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-the anthra­cite coal industry. In those years, clean-burning anthracite heated more homes in the northeastern United States than any other fuel, and a 1,700 square-mile area in northeast Pennsyl­vania produced almost all of the nation’s...
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Geography and Resources: The Story of Adaptation

The country itself, in its soil, air, water, seasons, and produce, both natural and artificial, is not to be despised. – William Penn Man is a creative and inventive creature capable of either adapt­ing to the environment, when need be, or adapting the environment to suit his particular needs. In the words of Max Savelle, “the history of the Anglo­American colonies is . . . a history...
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Susquehanna County: A Touch of New England, 1869-1927

Susquehanna County, one of several counties formed from territory originally claimed by both Connecticut and Pennsylvania, reflects a blend of New England and Pennsylvania traditions. Although the land would remain part of Pennsylvania, the majority of pioneer settlers to this northern tier region were actually from Connecticut and other New England states. It was not until 1787, however, that...
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A Glimpse of Mercer County

Mercer County, situated on the western edge of the state about midway between Erie and Pittsburgh. takes its name from Hugh Mercer, who emi­grated to Pennsylvania from Scotland. Mercer settled in Franklin County where he established a medical prac­tice, but he achieved prominence as a military man fighting in the French and Indian War and serving with Gen­eral Washington in the early campaigns...
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Pastimes and Festive Customs in Early Mine Patches

Preservation of coal mining heritage has become a growing concern of oral historians in Pennsylvania. As inter­view projects have grown, however, several gaps in the collections have been identified by the Coal Miners Research Association, a national organization whose function is to coordinate research efforts into the subject. One phase of die mini11g experience which needs to be documented...
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Fayette at the Crossroads

Fayette County has always been at the crossroads, both literally and figuratively, its destiny shaped by its location, the incredible riches of its natural resources and the vi­tality of a people descended from al­most every nation of Europe. It has a son of dual personality, geo­graphically divided between mountains and lowlands, historically divided into two almost equal eras of economic...
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A Culture of Sharing: Family and Community in Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Region, 1900-1940

Prior to the establishment of widespread governmental assis­tance programs such as social se­curity and various other forms of social services, the working people of industri­al America devised their own means of survival and support. Drawing on the resources of family members and neigh­bors, ordinary individuals created tight­ly-knit communities in which limited in­comes, food and emotions were...
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Back to the Land! Pennsylvania’s New Deal Era Communities

The economic collapse of 1929 ushered in a decade fraught with deep, often tremu­lous, questioning of the na­tion’s development and future. Many were the cries to re­turn to the land. As a result, two all-new rural communities founded in Pennsylvania in the mid-1930s – Norvelt, in Westmoreland County, and Penn-Craft, in adjacent Fayette County – remain today as testimony to...
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A Most Deadly Business

During the early morning hours of December 5, 1885, John Lynot labored hundreds of feet underground in the stale air of his “breast,” a black chamber in the coal seam the size of a small room, preparing an explosive charge. An anthracite miner for the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal Company, Lynot earned eighty-five cents for each two ton mine car he filled. Finding the weakest point...
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