Benjamin Henry Latrobe: The Artist as Commentator

Benjamin Henry La­trobe (1764-1820) is generally acknowl­edged to be America’s first professional architect and engineer, practicing in the United States from 1796, when he immigrated from England, until his untimely death from yellow fever in New Orleans in 1820. He worked, during that period, in cities as diverse as Richmond, Philadelphia, Balti­more, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, and...
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Crawford County: Welcoming the 21st Century

We passed over some good land since we eft Venango, and through several extensive and very rich meadows, one of which, I believe, was nearly four miles in length, and consid­erably wide in some places. Twenty-one year old George Washington, who would in time become a major landholder and land specula­tor, described Crawford County in 1753 as he carried a dispatch demanding the com­mander of the...
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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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Lycoming County: Many Call It Romantic

Its heritage is so rich that it’s hard to adequately­ – and accurately – portray the roles Lycoming County has played in the Commonwealth’s history. Since its settlement in the mid­-eighteenth century, it has had, according to Sylvester K. Stevens, author of the 1946 guide to the Keystone State’s sixty-seven counties, My Penn­sylvania, “one of the most...
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Poor John Fitch, The Inventor Few Remember

Philadelphia, August 22, 1787. With the promise of some relief from their intense debate and the heavy summer air, delegates to the Constitutional Convention strolled a few blocks from the State House (now Indepen­dence Hall) to the banks of the Delaware River. Along the river puffed an oddity, a curiosity that the statesmen had never before seen: a steam-operated boat­ – the first of its...
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Circles and Cycles – Working the Monongahela River Towboats: A Personal Portrait

A river is not defined by its banks. If it were, a simple line drawing would suffice to delineate it. People who work on it and live along its banks tell us what the Monongahela River is: it is about the people as much as the geography. This was a valley of steel and is still a valley of coal. The river defines the char­acter of the valley and affects people in ways they always aren’t...
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