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.

Aiming for the Stars

A friend recently lent me a copy of your very fine magazine with the article on the astronuclear lab [“Aiming for the Stars: the Forgotten Legacy of the Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory” by Willis L. Shirk Jr., Summer 2011]. What a fascinating history! I bet very few Pennsylvanians know about the state’s involvement in the NERVA [Nuclear Energy for Rocket Vehicle Applications] program. the story was nicely told and the visuals were great. Nice work.

Jason Fields
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Where did you find the photograph of President [John F.] Kennedy visiting NERVA’s testing facility at Jackass Flats [Nevada] in your summer issue? I’m working on an honors project and this would help me immensely.

Tyler L. Knox
Allentown, Pa.


We Must Be Alert

As avid hikers and kayakers, my husband and I often visit Pennsylvania. We both loved the article entitled “Peter Kalm in Pennsylvania” [by Myra K. Jacobsohn, Summer 2011]. The photographs of Pennsylvania’s vast forests are exquisite. They also remind us that we must be alert and act as stewards of this precious landscape, especially now that it might be threatened by the drilling for natural gas in your state. When I think of what logging and coal mining did to Pennsylvania, I shudder and hope history won’t repeat itself. Unfortunately, when so much money is to be made, conservation usually takes a back seat.

Ellie Hutchinson
Binghamton, N.Y.


From Cover to Cover

I compliment you on the religion theme for Pennsylvania Heritage. [The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission adopted “William Penn’s Legacy: Religious and Spiritual Diversity” as its annual theme for 2011]. For the second time only since I have been taking Heritage, I sat down and read the magazine from cover to cover and am grateful for what I’ve learned. I do have a few questions and comments about material in the summer 2011 issue, however.

Is Wikipedia the source for renaming Admiral Richard Penn, Admiral Sir William Penn. Why the change?

My German dictionary defines Saal as a hall. Meetinghouse is perhaps good enough. Maybe meeting hall would be closer to German.

Thank you for the piece on Peace Church. I shall have to make a point of finding out when an organ program is scheduled. A question: What church did [the Reverend John] Winebrenner found?

The German translation of Peter Kalm’s book published around 1750 may very well have helped to spur German migration. The article about Kalm’s work raised many questions about which I need to think. Perhaps settlers on hardscrabble farms used burning and produced soil exhaustion, but I suspect that the Lancaster Plain was an area of good husbandry even by 1750.

The present-day spelling of Rhynsburg is Rheinberg [“Our Documentary Heritage: 1769 German Manuscript“]. The Rheinberg referred to as being located north-northwest of Berlin isn’t even on a river — it’s on one of the many lakes of this part of Germany and is a small one at that. More to the point, the largest river to the west is the Elbe; the Rhine River is far to the west, near the border with the Netherlands. So, my point is that Rhynsburg/Rheinberg isn’t on the Rhine River.

I very much appreciate your attention to the history of religion in Pennsylvania and look forward to the next edition.

Ruth Shirey
Indiana, Pa.


The editor thanks the reader for her thoughtful letter which space constraints prevented from being published in its entirety. In his article entitled “Discovering Religious Diversity Along the Pennsylvania Trails of History,” author John K. Robinson correctly identified the founder’s father as Admiral Sir William Penn (1621–1670). In 1830, Pastor John Winebrenner (1797–1860) established the General Eldership of the Church of God, a Baptist denomination, whose early members were called Winebrennerians. The name was changed to the General Eldership of the Churches of God in North America in 1845 and in 1975 to the Churches of God General Conference. Although the denomination might best be described as Fundamentalist Bible, it has often been categorized as a German Baptist or Arminian Baptist.