The Man for the Moment: Tom Ridge and the 9/11 Inflection Point

  On the cloudless, blue-sky morning of September 11, 2001, Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, unaware the State Police in Harrisburg were looking for him, was at his Erie home enjoying the crisp air while he cleared his raised flower beds of dead stems and dried leaves. Gardening was a favorite pastime for the Vietnam War veteran and former congressman. For Ridge, that peaceful moment in his...
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Editor’s Letter

Twenty years ago, Pennsylvania became the setting for one of the most tragic but heroic episodes in recent U.S. history, when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a meadow in Somerset County after passengers fought back at al-Qaeda hijackers who had planned to use the aircraft for an attack on an unknown target in Washington, D.C. In this issue we mark the somber anniversary of 9/11 with the...
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Looking Back at 2018

This past year marked the centennials of the end of World War I and the start of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Of special significance to Pennsylvania was the 300th anniversary of the death of founder William Penn. What follows is a brief glimpse of 2018 on the Pennsylvania Trails of History, a few highlights among many.   William Penn’s Legacy To commemorate the 300th anniversary of...
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Executive Director’s Message

“How tall is the statue?” It’s a question visitors repeatedly ask guides and guards as they enter The State Museum of Pennsylvania’s Memorial Hall and encounter Janet de Coux’s towering bronze casting of a young William Penn (1644-1718) clasping a diminutive figure in his left hand. Museum staffers explain that the statue stands nearly eighteen feet high and weighs...
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Executive Director’s Message

“Do not think of the Pennsylvania Railroad as a business enterprise. Think of it as a nation.” Even if we allow for such a hyperbole – in this case by a writer in the May 1936 edition of Fortune Magazine – it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) – or “the Pennsy” as it was seemingly known to all – dominated...
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History and Community: Pennsylvania’s First Lady Makes The Connection, An Interview with Michele M. Ridge

When flood waters threatened the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg in January 1996, Michele M. Ridge quickly transformed herself from First Lady to First Curator of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Within hours, she assembled a team of National Guardsmen, weekend staff at the resi¬≠dence, and specialists of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to move endangered works of art,...
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Sparking a Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution: An Interview with Dick Clark

For many baby boomers – members of that much-touted generation who came of age in the fifties and sixties – rock ‘n’ roll provided a defining point in their adolescent lives. Few will ever forget the first time they jitterbugged to Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets, or took to the dance floor with The Twist by Chubby Checker. Many cherish the memory of...
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Erie Maritime Museum: A New Museum Opens a Window to History

Nearly two centuries ago, a newly built squadron of United States Navy warships set sail from the shores of Lake Erie to battle a contingent of the British Navy, the most formidable naval force in the world. The ensuing battle of the War of 1812 shocked the British admiralty and boosted the morale of the U.S. Navy and the entire nation. The legacy of this battle is graphically chronicled by the...
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Pennsylvanians-at-Arms: The Pennsylvania Military Museum

From provincial militia units that predate the American Revolution to this very day, Pennsylvanians have mustered their courage and taken up arms to defend their homes, defeat tyranny abroad, and champion the freedom of people at home and throughout the world. By accepting their call to duty, Pennsylvania’s brave citizen-soldiers have built a proud military tradition that, ironically, grew...
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Shorts

To observe February 2000 as Black History Month, the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a special driving tour which includes the John¬≠son House in Germantown, a station along the Underground Railroad, and Camp William Penn, the nation’s first recruiting and training camp for black soldiers, where eleven thousand troops were trained. The country’s first...
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