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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U.S. Brig Niagara

Commissioned as the Commonwealth’s official flagship in 1990, the United States Brig Niagara is a re-creation of the sailing warship commanded by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry during the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813. Today, the vessel – crewed by professionals and volunteers – gives visitors a rare opportunity to see, firsthand, the workings of a nineteenth century...
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A Century of Conservation: The Story of Pennsylvania’s State Parks

Pennsylvania’s state park system is celebrating its centennial as one of the country’s largest and most popular recreational attractions. Each year, thirty-six million people visit one (or more) of the Keystone State’s one hundred and fourteen parks to picnic, hike, swim, boat, camp, ski, snowmobile, fish, hunt, or raft white water rapids. This sprawling collec­tion of open...
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Bookshelf

Deep Water Sailors, Shallow Water Soldiers by Gerald T. Altoff The Perry Group, 1993 (203 pages, paper, $7.95) Subtitled Manning the United States Fleet on Lake Erie – 1813, this book exam­ines the composition of the crews of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet that took part in one of the most signifi­cant naval encounters during the War of 1812. According to the author, these...
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Currents

Exciting Erie Before the arrival of white settlers, the southern shores of Lake Erie were inhabited by the Eriez Indians of Iroquois stock until they were virtually eliminated, by 1655, through war with the Seneca nation. A century later, the French, recognizing the military and trade advantages that Lake Erie and its waterways offered, found a harbor ideally suited for a fort, which they named...
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Currents

Hello, History! The former Chautauqua Lake Ice Company warehouse in Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District will come to life on Sunday, April 28 [1996], when it officially opens to the public as the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center. Renovated by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, which has been protecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of the...
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Carved Duck Decoy by Frank Buchner

In the opening paragraph of an article entitled “Duck-Shooting on Lake Erie,” a writer for the Illustrated London News of January 5, 1889, observed, “In no part of the world is there better duck-shooting than on Lake Erie.” Duck hunters familiar with northwestern Pennsylvania had known that for some time. Migratory waterfowl have traditionally followed seasonal flight...
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Executive Director’s Message

For the first time in two decades, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) will open a new museum when the Erie Maritime Museum makes its grand debut in May. Planning for the museum began in 1986, but a suitable site was not secured until 1991. We needed not only a museum location but also a new berthing facility for the U.S. Brig Niagara. It was at this time that the Erie...
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Lost and Found

Lost In 1845, less than five years after entering politics, William Bigler (1814-1880) built a handsome Italianate-style residence in Clearfield. Before settling in the Clearfield County seat, he apprenticed with his brother John at The Centre De­mocrat, published in Bellefonte, Centre County. In Clearfield, he amassed a fortune in the lumber business. He served in the state senate from 1841 to...
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Old State Line

The modern-day map of Pennsylvania reveals an anomaly most puzzling – a triangular appendage of land extending to the City of Erie and providing the Commonwealth with access to Lake Erie. Early maps show that the original border of Pennsylvania ran south of its present boundary of Lake Erie. Originally, Pennsylvania was fundamentally rectangular, with an undulating eastern border defined...
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