Editor's Letter is an introduction to the contents and themes of each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage by the editor.

There are more than 90,500 districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In Pennsylvania alone there are more than 3,300 listed properties. The National Register was created as part of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), now in effect for 50 years and enacted on the assumption that preservation of “irreplaceable heritage is in the public interest so that its vital legacy of cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, economic, and energy benefits will be maintained and enriched for future generations!’ The specific section in the act about the National Register calls for the U.S. secretary of the interior to “maintain and expand” a list of properties “significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture” that warrant preservation. The program is administered by the National Park Service and managed by each state government through State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), also established by NHPA. SHPOs carry out a number of preservation functions including identification of properties eligible for the National Register and coordination of nominations to the list for approval by NHPA-required state advisory boards and then the National Park Service (see National Register section on PHMC website). Although being listed is not a guarantee of protection, it does give greater visibility to places that are important to communities and can offer opportunities for preservation through a number of other programs.

In each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage we highlight one of the state’s recent National Register additions in a department called A Place Time, which is alternately authored by the three regional National Register program coordinators in Pennsylvania’s SHPO: April Frantz, managing the eastern third of the state; Dave Maher, handling the central part; and Keith Heinrich, dealing with the west. In this edition, April writes about the Gosztonyi Savings and Trust building in Bethlehem, Northampton County, which not only has been listed in the National Register but also was preserved and rehabilitated as a restaurant-distillery through Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives, a program initiated by a 1976 amendment to NHPA and coordinated in Pennsylvania by its SHPO.

Two of the features in this issue are about National Register properties that have benefited from long-term preservation efforts. Eckley Miners’ Village in Luzerne County (listed as a historic district in 1971) is the subject of “Coal Patch, Take Two,” in which PHMC architect Andrea W. Lowery traces the preservation story of the site, from mining patch town to Hollywood motion picture setting to its current status as a historic site that is the pride of the Coal Region. In her discussion, Andrea illustrates how NHPA brought about a new democratization of history, with an increased focus on the social and industrial past, prompting recognition of sites like Eckley.

The National Register is usually associated with buildings or historic districts, but there are several other types of properties that can be and have been added, such as railroad locomotives and rolling stock. In “The Lindbergh Engine,” Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania director Jeffrey Bliemeister tells of Pennsylvania Railroad Locomotive No. 460 and its Washington-to-New York race with an airplane in 1927 to deliver newsreel footage of Charles Lindbergh receiving presidential honors after his legendary flight. Infused with meaning, the race represented a last stand for old technology in a period of transition, leading to the engine’s National Register listing in 1979 and its full cosmetic restoration currently in progress at the Railroad Museum in Strasburg, Lancaster County.

Also in this issue we continue our focus on natural history in Pennsylvania. In the Winter 2015 edition, we featured an article by Iren Light Snavely Jr. on Alexander Wilson and his endeavor to create and publish his masterwork of bird cataloging, American Ornithology (1804-14). Iren now goes from birdman to bugman with a profile of another Philadelphia zoological genius of the Early Republic. “Thomas Say, Pennsylvania Entomologist” tells the story of the cofounder of the Academy of Natural Sciences who joined the 1819 and 1823 Long expeditions to study previously uncatalogued insects, recording his findings in his illustrated three-volume American Entomology (1824-28), another Pennsylvania-published classic.

As spring begins, be sure to augment your Pennsylvania Heritage armchair journeys with explorations of the Keystone State’s fascinating historic landscape as we commemorate 50 years of NHPA, the National Register and the preservation of Pennsylvania’s treasures.

Kyle R. Weaver