2017 Trails

Another year has passed on the Pennsylvania Trails of History. Exhibits, special events, thousands of visiting schoolchildren, more than a few beer and wine festivals, and several battle reenactments are now recorded in the books. As a way of wrapping up the year, we look back at a few milestones along the way. But before we turn our attention to the World War I centennial and an overview of...
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“Restless Progress in America”: Drawing the Mason-Dixon Line

“When I found I had crossed that line,” recalled Harriet Tubman, “I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything . . . I felt like I was in Heaven.” Such was the power of the Mason-Dixon Line. Within 75 years of its completion to resolve an eight-decade-long dispute between two colonial proprietors, a boundary line drawn in the 1760s by two English...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation Newsletter

Topics in the Spring 2017 Newsletter: PHF Board Meets at Pennsbury Manor The Giving Circle PHF Welcomes Three New Board Members Historical Marker Scavenger Hunt at Pennsylvania Farm Show Join the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation  ...
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Into the Dark World of Catching Crooks, Culprits and Convicts: An Interview with Robert K. Wittman

by Michael J. O’Malley III Robert King “Bob” Wittman in no way resembles the highly romanticized portrayals of FBI agents made famous over the decades by movie studios and television series. He is not the heavy-hitting, gang-busting, chain-smoking G-man, replete with fedora rakishly angled atop his head. Instead, he embodies the old-school preppy style – looking as though...
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Philadelphia Naval Shipyard

The Philadelphia Navy Yard was established in 1801 on Federal Street in the Southwark District of Philadelphia, an area along the Delaware River roughly 2 miles southeast of City Hall (part of this area was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Southwark Historic District in 1972). In 1868 the Navy Yard, later renamed the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, was moved to League...
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Seeing the Light at Glen Foerd on the Delaware

Visitors to Glen Foerd on the Delaware marvel at the decorative plasterwork that surrounds the domed, stained-glass laylight crowning the mansion’s central staircase. On tours they see, from their vantage point on the third-floor landing, beams of light pouring in through the 15-foot interior skylight, bringing into sharp relief the buttery yellow plaster with inlays. But until last...
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William Penn’s Side Chair

Pennsylvania founder and first proprietor William Penn lived in his colony for a total of only four years during two trips of two years each, 1682-84 and 1699-1701. Even before his first visit he had engaged his agent to purchase from the Lenapes land along the Delaware River that would become Pennsbury Manor, intended to be his permanent summer home in America. As fate would have it, however,...
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Digging Deep: 50 Years of Preservation Archaeology in Pennsylvania

On a lovely morning in early autumn, I arrive at an old farm along the Susquehanna River to find Dr. Frank Vento in his natural element. That is to say, he is squatting down at the bottom of a backhoe trench some 8 feet deep, carefully examining the many layers of flood-deposited sediment left behind by the great river. Frank, recently retired from the faculty at Clarion University, is a...
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Shawnee-Minisink Archaeological Site

The Shawnee-Minisink site in Monroe County contains some of the earliest evidence of human occupation in eastern North America, carbon-14 dated to around 11,000 BCE. While other sites from the Paleoindian period have been found, very few have been undisturbed. Buried beneath nearly 8 feet of sediment, the archaeological deposits of Shawnee-Minisink remained protected for ages. Archaeologists...
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Historic Districts in Pennsylvania: An Evolving Sense of Place

Jim Thorpe, originally named Mauch Chunk, is a small and picturesque borough of well-preserved 19th-century buildings perched on the side of a mountain along the Lehigh River in Carbon County. It once served as an important railroad and coal shipping center. As these industries waned in the 20th century, the town sought new economic purpose by marketing its scenic appeal as the “Switzerland of...
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