The Early Days of the William Penn Highway: How Present-Day U.S. Route 22 Got its Start

At the dawn of the automobile age, the major roadways crossing Pennsylvania were rutted, dusty, farm-to-market thoroughfares traveled mainly by horses and wagons. Many of these were still privately owned turnpikes, some with wooden-plank road surfaces. Most towns had improved streets, but the paving, if any, usually ended at the city line. Stagecoach lines still operated here and there, but...
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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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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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Daniel Hale Williams

Daniel Hale Williams was born January 18, 1856, the son of Daniel and Sarah Ann Price Williams, in Hollidaysburg, Blair County. When his father died in 1867, his mother, who moved to Annapolis, Maryland, arranged an apprenticeship as a shoemaker for her son. Dissatisfied with shoemaking, Williams later settled in Janesville, Wisconsin, along with his sister Sally. He found work at Harry...
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Pioneering the Civil Rights Movement

Many individuals tend to overlook the political work championed by Black abolitionists during the second half of the nineteenth century. Instead, they celebrate slavery’s demise and then suddenly move on to the civil rights movement of the twentieth century, possibly unaware of what took place on the nation’s streets and in legislative offices and courtrooms from the 1860s through the 1890s. The...
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