From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

Pennsylvania is widely recognized as one of the most visited states in the nation. Tourists flock here to see authentic places and national historical landmarks such as the Gettysburg Battlefield, Washington Crossing Historic Park, Fallingwater, and Independence Hall. But they also come to explore our historic cities and towns, pristine landscapes, and the diverse cultural traditions of Lancaster County, the Laurel Highlands, and the Endless Mountains.

More than three thousand buildings in Pennsylvania are listed in the National Register of Historic Places; nearly two hundred are honored as National Historic Landmarks. Thirty-two communities have achieved recognition as Preserve America Communities.

This summer, we invite you to see Pennsylvania through new eyes and be a tourist in your own state. The Pennsylvania Trails of History offers a tantalizing menu of the Commonwealth’s historic sites, including the Brig Niagara, Erie, that carried Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to victory in the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie; Brandywine Battlefield, Chadds Ford, site of the crushing defeat of the American forces by the British on September 11, 1777; Drake Well Museum, Venango County, the world’s first successful oil well; Cornwall Iron Furnace, Cornwall, arguably one of the world’s best preserved eighteenth-century iron furnace complexes; and the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, Strasburg, housing a magnificent collection of rare rolling stock, equipment, and memorabilia. Pennsylvania Heritage Society members receive free admission to all PHMC sites along the Pennsylvania Trails of History.

We know historic places attract sightseers for many reasons. Visiting historic sites and museums ranked as the third most popular outdoor recreation activity in a recent survey of state residents published by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as part of its 2009–2013 statewide outdoor recreation plan. Only walking and picnicking reported higher participation rates — and they’re also great reasons to visit historical organizations that preserve landscapes and open space, as well as buildings and structures.

Get outdoors, explore a new region of the state, and learn more about history! PHMC’s annual theme for 2011, “William Penn’s Legacy: Religious and Spiritual Diversity,” offers a number of incentives to plan your own tour. Nearly three hun- dred state historical markers searchable on PHMC’s Web site under the topic of religion take you to every corner of the Commonwealth and allow you to explore sites related to Moravians, Quakers, Seventh Day Baptists, Harmonists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, Swedenborgians, and Dunkers, in addition to Catholics, Jews, and major Protestant denominations. Many of PHMC’s historic sites and museums include exhibits on religious themes, among them Ephrata Cloister, Old Economy Village, Joseph Priestley House, Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, Eckley Miners’ Village, and Pennsbury Manor.

Pennsylvania’s Civil War Trails guides you on road trips through some of central Pennsylvania’s most picturesque and historic communities. You can purchase a copy of Tom Huntington’s informative Pennsylvania Civil War Trails: The Guide to Battle Sites, Monuments, Museums and Towns, copublished by PHMC and Stackpole Books.

Even if you plan to stay home, history can come to you. The Civil War Road Show, a project of Pennsylvania Civil War 150, is scheduled to visit twenty-two com- munities this year as part of a four-year tour that will reach each of our sixty-seven counties.

You need not venture far this summer to travel back in time and discover the intriguing places and compelling stories that Pennsylvania offers. History is just beyond your door. Experience it.

Barbara Franco
Executive Director, PHMC