Backcast: Pennsylvania’s Legacy of Split Cane Fly Rods

  It’s important not to rush this. A mistake will obliterate a month of work. I take care to make sure that my workbench is uncluttered, the lighting is adequate to the task, and the tools I’ll need are handy but not in the way. Before me is a tapered hexagonal shaft composed of Tonkin cane (Arundinaria amabilis McClure), a type of extraordinarily tough bamboo found mostly in southeastern...
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Before and After the Act: Historic Preservation in Pennsylvania

In 1816 the City of Philadelphia purchased Independence Hall to save it from demolition. This was the first historic preservation effort in the United States. One hundred and fifty years later, the historic preservation movement found its footing as a national priority when President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Historic Preservation Act into law on October 16, 1966. The act codified the...
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How They Served: Recovering the Experiences of Five Pennsylvanians in the American Civil War

Pennsylvania supplied approximately 362,000 soldiers to the Union effort in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. This was more than any other Northern state except New York. The Keystone State suffered the loss of 33,183 sons to death while in war service, and virtually every aspect of Pennsylvania society was affected by the pervasive nature of the great conflict and its staggering cost in terms of...
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Monument to Confederate Soldiers

In 1898 Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act allowing the printing and publishing of postcards by private companies and launched a craze in the early years of the 20th century. Prior to this legislation only the U.S. Postal System was authorized to produce these cards. Billions of what are known as “real photo” postcards – depicting rural villages, picturesque panoramas, community...
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Rebels’ Revenge: The Burning of Chambersburg

Out of the predawn mist thundered the enemy, their horses’ hooves pounding the town’s dusty streets apocalyptically. Al­though grimy, weary and starv­ing, the cavalrymen were formidable, battle-hardened veterans, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. They had come to this little town to execute an order – a command which, when carried out, would add another bitter meas­ure...
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Watts’ Folly

When he is remem­bered at all, Fre­derick Watts is likely to be men­tioned in connection with the McCormick Reaper, the Cum­berland Valley Railroad, the establishment of the Pennsyl­vania State University or, more recently, the controversy over the demolition of his farm­stead in Carlisle. It may seem an incongruous legacy but therein lies the charm and the extraordinary genius of this man from...
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Franklin County

Our forefathers never could have envisioned the Franklin County we live in today. The hardships and struggles to merely survive while trying to establish new homes in a new land on a new frontier created memories that will live as long as man cares to remember. Modern major highways, a wide diversification of indus- try, fertile farm lands and persons who still care help make Franklin County,...
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The Black Press in Pennsylvania

I The Black press in Pennsylvania played a leading role in the struggle for Afro-American freedom in the pre-Civil War period. After the war, Afro-American tabloids in the Commonwealth were among the first newspapers to call for the civil rights and enfranchise­ment of Afro-Americans in the South and North. Fre­quently, editors of these newspapers became elected politicians and they used their...
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Mailbox

The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, is compiling a comprehensive listing of works by Pennsylvania artist Lloyd Mifflin (1846-1921), hailed as the “Poet and Painter of the Sus­quehanna River.” Born in Columbia, Lancaster County, Mifflin studied in Europe in the early 1870s and returned to his home­town to devote his life to painting and poetry. In addition to his paintings,...
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Larger than Life Along the Lincoln Highway

What are unsuspecting motorists’ typical reactions when they encounter a seven-foot praying mantis standing alongside a highway? Or a giant shoe, three stories tall? How about a huge steamboat, complete with paddlewheels, miles from navigable waterways? They might range from exclamation – “wow!” – to sheer dis­dain – “tourist trap!” – but the...
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