Letters to the Editor

Letters presents readers' comments and reactions to specific articles in Pennsylvania Heritage, the initiatives of PHMC, and other developments in the historical, cultural and museum communities of Pennsylvania.

Pitcher This!

The picture of the beautiful silver pitcher in the “Currents” section of the spring 1990 edition was worth a thousand words, but I would like to know more about it. Do you have any additional information?

Constance Shiffer
Newport, R.I.

The silver presentation pitcher was made in 1842 by the firm of Bailey and Kitchen, Philadelphia silversmiths active from 1833 to 1846. The piece bears the inscrip­tion:

Presented as a
testimo­nial of their esteem and respect
Wirt Robinson C.E.
by his Corps of Engineers on
the Philadelphia Reading and Pottsville Railroad
September 25, 1843

The scene wrought in silver depicts the Black Rock tunnel in Phoenixville, Montgom­ery County, probably the most significant construction project along the railway. The tunnel – ­measuring 2,043 feet in length­ – passed through solid rock! The bridge crossing the Schuylkill River consisted of four arches, each of which which was a 72-ton masonry span. Anthracite (hard coal) was the principal cargo of this extension of the railroad line. The first locomotive used this line of the Philadelphia, Reading and Pottsville Railroad on January 10, 1842. The railroad subsequently purchased the Schuylkill Canal and effectively put it out of busi­ness, ending the rivalry between the canal and the railroad. As for the pitcher, it will remain on view at the Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, through September 2 [1990] as part of “Two Hun­dred Years and Counting: The Statistics of Change,” a major exhibition analyzing the role of the U.S. Census in the county since 1790.


Liberty Bell

The “how” and the “when” of the Liberty Bell’s housing in the new glass pavilion in Philadelphia is not included in the article by William C. Kashatus III, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All The Land,” which appeared in the winter 1990 issue. It was a dark and stormy night. My husband, our four children and I stood in the freezing rain to see the Liberty Bell moved from Inde­pendence Hall, across Chest­nut Street and to its new home on Market Street. Unfortu­nately, many of the planned festivities were rained out. Those who stayed at home to see it as part of the nation’s televised New Year’s Eve cele­bration were disappointed as the drenching rain shut down media coverage.

Frances J. Doherty
Reading, Pa.

The relocation of the Liberty Bell from Independence Hall to the pavilion at Independence Mall officially opened Philadelphia’s observance of the Bicentennial of the American Revolution. Plans for the program, which began at 11 P.M. on December 31, 1975, included the reading by stage and screen actor Lee J. Cobb of “The Bell Moves Forward,” a poem written by James J. Smart, a Philadelphia historian and news­man.


Teller Re-Told

Grif Teller Paints the Pennsy” by Dan Cupper in the winter 1990 issue got my adrenalin flow­ing! Having been raised near Frankford Junction in Philadel­phia provided many varied and exciting views of trains on the Pennsy’s main line to New York City. In 1937 at the age of 20, f had this wish to ride in the cab of the new electric GG-1. I wrote to the railroad president, and approval came quickly from W.C. Higginbot­tom, the company’s general manager. A few weeks later the trip was taken from the Broad Street station to Man­hattan. As we approached the tunnel, the engineer said, “It will look like it will not fit but it does every time.” I cherish my 1950 calendar by Grif Teller-and the order to the engineer and the conductor. By the way, I did pay for my ticket.

Lawrence J. Exner
Ambler, Pa.