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.

What A Guy!

The article on Governor Earle [“An Activist Government in Harrisburg: Governor George H. Earle III and Pennsylvania’s ‘Little New Deal’” by Kenneth C. Wolensky, Winter 2008] was incredible. With this article I learned so much about this period in Pennsylvania’s history and how the New Deal – the big one in Washington, D.C., and the not-so-little one in Harrisburg – helped millions of people weather the trying years of the Great Depression. Comparing today’s leaders to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Governor Earle, I can only conclude, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore.”

It’s amazing to consider that FDR and Earle came from similar, privileged backgrounds and that both worked tirelessly for the benefit of ordinary individuals. They truly embodied the meaning of egalitarianism. Governor Earle certainly put his money where his mouth was. What a guy!

Frank O’Toole
Philadelphia, Pa.

Congratulations to PHMC for adopting the seventy-fifth anniversary of the New Deal as its theme for 2008. This was an extremely important period in our history and every school student today should understand the importance of the economic relief forms that helped raise Americans from the depths of poverty and unemployment. It was a brief period when government worked for the people. Great job!

John L. Gibbons Jr.
Pittsburgh, Pa.


Revisiting Blooming Grove

Congratulations on the most interesting and informative article, “Into the Woods: The Blooming Grove Hunting and Fishing Club,” by Louis M. Waddell [Summer 2007].

As part of the 1930 land exchange between the club and the Commonwealth, the latter acquired beautiful, pristine glacial Bruce Lake and the surrounding area. This parcel and the existing state forest land were combined and became a state forest monument, of which Bruce Lake was the centerpiece. This area is located northeast of Promised Land State Park. Later, it was redesignated as the Bruce Lake Wilderness Area. About 1958, it received its present name, the Bruce Lake Natural Area. In 1967, the Bruce Lake natural Area was nominated to the National Registry of Natural Landmarks, administered by the National Park Service. Proximity to the newly constructed Interstate 84, with its resultant traffic, was a deciding factor that denied the area this designation.

Fifty years ago, in 1957, State District Forester E.C. Pyle showed me numerous blasting holes drilled into rocky ledges on the east side of Bruce Lake. Pyle related to me that the club had originally planned to build a road around the lake. I have often wondered about the origin of the name of Bruce Lake because old maps referred to it as Root’s Pond. After reading Dr. Waddell’s article, I am wondering if the club renamed it in honor of Colonel Sanders Dewees Bruce, an early officer.

In 1935, Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-139, at Promised Land State Park, constructed a forest fire access road to the north end of the lake, which also served as a footpath for the public.

Sanford Shelton
Equinunk, Pa.

Sanford Shelton retired as park superintendent of Promised Land State Park in 1990.

The article’s author, PHMC historian Louis M. Waddell, confirms that the lake was named for Colonel Bruce.



Mary Jane Schneider, author of “From the Ashes at Boyertown – Safety Legislation for All,” which appeared in the Winter 2008 edition, asks that we provide additional information about this feature to readers. The projectionist, Harry Fisher, was from Bridgeton, New Jersey, and not from Carlisle, Cumberland County, and he was showing slides of Scotland, not of the Holy Land. Several passages in the article were not part of the original copy submitted by the author but added by the magazine staff, including the pull quote accompanying the image of Thomas J. B. Rhoads on page 28, the prominent placement of which may be construed to place blame for the catastrophic 1908 opera house fire on Dr. Rhoads. The editor regrets these errors and extends his apologies to the author.