In 2016 the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) presented its first Community Initiative Awards to recognize organizations, agencies, municipalities and individuals throughout the commonwealth for their historic preservation successes. The program has become a key component of PA SHPO’s statewide historic preservation plan, #PreservationHappensHere, encouraging Pennsylvanians to discover, share and celebrate historic places in their communities. The past year’s four recipients were Lazaretto, the site of the first quarantine hospital in the Western Hemisphere, repurposed for municipal use, in Tinicum Township, Delaware County; the Mahoning Drive-In Theater, restored for classic screenings, in Lehighton, Carbon County; Roxian Theatre, rehabilitated as a public entertainment venue, in McKees Rocks, Allegheny County; and Fighter’s Heaven, the training camp of heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, recently restored as a historic site, near Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County.

The latter awardee is the subject of this edition’s cover story (“Fighter’s Heaven“). The world-renowned Ali lived at the rustic complex of log cabins he had built in the Pennsylvania wilderness, training there between 1972 and 1981 to escape the distractions of the professional boxing world. Regular Pennsylvania Heritage contributor Todd M. Mealy takes us into the camp — with the accompaniment of both historic and present-day photographs by Jeff Julian — recounting Ali’s intense preparation in the log gym and surrounding forest for his most phenomenal matches — including Rumble in the Jungle, the 1974 World Heavyweight Championship bout in Zaire with George Foreman, and the 1975 Thrilla in Manilla with Joe Frazier — as well as activities at the site as Ali hosted celebrities and media figures and invited young, up-and-coming fighters to spar with him at his boxer’s dreamland. A sidebar in the feature covers the restoration and preservation of Fighter’s Heaven as a historic site and destination.

The preservation impulse is also at the heart of “Gallantly Saving Railroad History,” focusing on the individual who was the catalyst for the development of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the world-class PHMC Trails of History site in Strasburg that showcases and interprets the commonwealth’s leading role in the railroad industry through exhibits of preserved rolling stock and railroad artifacts, a restoration shop, and education and research centers. Archivist Kurt R. Bell narrates the story of free-spirited founding director George M. Hart and his lifelong pursuit of documenting, preserving and sharing railroad history — through statewide photography jaunts and tourist railroad rambles in classic engines — leading to his work in assembling the amazing collection of the Railroad Museum in the 1970s.

History is also preserved in the foods we eat, and Pennsylvania has a rich and diverse culinary heritage, emerging from its many ethnic traditions and its abundance of agricultural resources. William Woys Weaver has been tracing the commonwealth’s food history for more than 40 years in books and articles and occasionally in the pages of this magazine. In “Chicken and Waffles,” he explores the Pennsylvania origins of the combo dish through menus and other ephemera, following its evolution from a Dutch Country farmhouse staple to hotel-and-tavern tourist fare, through its eventual rise to national popularity in the mid-20th century.

Hershey’s Chocolate is a confectionary brand that has become synonymous with Pennsylvania. Seventy-five years ago, on October 13, 1945, company founder Milton S. Hershey died, leaving an “empire” that remains one of the leading producers of chocolate in the world. But it was more than just a quality product that led to Hershey’s rapid success. In “Sure to Attract Much Attention,” historian James D. McMahon Jr. examines the marketing acumen of the founder, showing his ability to follow popular trends as a way of captivating consumers, through early exotic packaging, slogans that touted nutritional values, collectible postcard candy-bar inserts, promotional films, and product placement in motion pictures.

We are pleased to be able to continue our work in preserving history with another edition of Pennsylvania Heritage produced through the miracle of teleworking as we navigate the challenges of another quarter of the COVID-19 pandemic. After reading this issue, be sure to visit our online archive of past editions at to supplement your armchair explorations of the commonwealth’s rich and diverse history.

Kyle R. Weaver