Ruthless Tide by Al Roker

Ruthless Tide The Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood, America’s Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster by Al Roker William Morrow, 303 pp, cloth $28.99 The Johnstown Flood of 1889 retains  its fascination. The flood was caused by the breaking of a dam owned by the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club, a group of Pittsburgh industrialists and financiers. In a horrifying display of the...
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Clinton County: Still Part of Penn’s Woods

Clinton County, one of the sixth-class counties of Pennsyl­vania, occupies 900 square miles of river valley and mountain land near the geographical center of the state. Nearly two-thirds of the area re­mains forested, al though most of the trees are second growth after a near denuding of the land by a booming lumber industry in the second half of the last century. It was in the wood­lands of...
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The Dream of Security: Johnstown and Flood Control

They don’t take rain for granted in Johnstown anymore. Walking down Market Street or cruising Route 56, pedestrians may pause and drivers may slow as the first drops land. Anxious glances skyward reveal the unspoken thought: will it happen again? They are re­calling the terrible night in July 1977 when the rain fell and fell and the dream of a flood-free Johnstown shattered for­ever. That...
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L. V. Kupper: Dirt-Street Town Photographer

In the closing decades of the nineteenth century, northwestern Pennsylvania was predominantly a region of dirt-street towns, each serving a neighboring farm popula­tion. As such, these communities were home to blacksmiths, harness makers. and their like – practical mechanics whose utilitarian skills were very much a pan of the agricultural landscape. And among these champions of the useful...
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Cameron County: Where Legends are Legion

Tucked high away in Pennsylvania’s once foreboding northern tier, the little county called Cameron was a segment of the vast wilderness known for many years as the Com­monwealth’s last frontier. In fact, the county was not for­mally established until 1860, the sixty-sixth of the sixty­-seven counties apportioned and organized by the state legislature. Actual settlement of Ca­meron...
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Perry County: A Sportsman’s Paradise

Despite its proximity to Pennsylvania’s bustling and heavily urbanized capital city, Perry County remains a sportsman’s placid paradise with its thickly forested moun­tains and lushly verdant val­leys. Much like its neighboring counties – Franklin, Cumber­land, Juniata and Dauphin­ – Perry County claims a topogra­phy that is neither unique nor unusual: its mountains give...
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The ‘State’ of Allegheny

One of the first centers of the organization of the Re­publican party and scene of its first national conven­tion in February, 1856, Allegheny County was strongly for Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860. As the vote count proceeded, one of the leaders kept sending telegrams to Lincoln’s home in Illinois, keeping him up on the news that “Allegheny gives a majority of …...
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Setting the Standard for Others

With a rich heritage rooted in colonial military formations – such as the forces furnished in 1740 for a disastrous English expe­dition against Cartagena, Spain’s principal seaport in South America, and Benjamin Franklin’s ten thousand mem­ber military Association, estab­lished in 1747 – the 28th Infantry (Keystone) Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, is the...
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The Romance of Pennsylvania Agriculture

When a small group of men met at Lancaster’s Leopard Hotel in August 1916 to organize the first Pennsylvania Farm Show, they did not have in mind mammoth displays of fifty thousand dollar tractors, mountains of steaming baked potatoes or presentations of grand champion livestock ribbons. They didn’t envision a state fair of the type that had become so popular in places like Iowa,...
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The Valley That Changed the World: Visiting the Drake Well Museum

“They’ve struck oil!” They were only three words, but they thundered triumphantly throughout the valley along northwestern Pennsylvania’s Oil Creek during the days following the long-anticipated breakthrough – one that would change the world forever – on an otherwise quiet Saturday in August 1859. To many it was a miracle, one on which great fortunes would be...
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