Holtwood Dam

  In October 1905 McCall’s Ferry Power Co. began construction in Martic Township, Lancaster County, on what would be the second of four hydroelectric dams built to harness the power of the Susquehanna River below Harrisburg, Dauphin County. Twenty miles from the tidewater of the Chesapeake Bay, it was then the third longest dam in the world, built of solid concrete, 55 feet high. The...
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Pennsylvania Architectural Heritage: The Preservation Movement in the Keystone State, 1800-1950

The primary focus of this series of four articles is the architectural heritage of Pennsylvania through the past three centuries. However, in the context of history, architecture is neither an isolated creation nor an assured cultural resource for the future. As buildings ore the products of the interaction of many facets of a society, so. too, the preservation of architecture is the result of...
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Okie Speaks For Pennsbury, Part II

In its attempt during the 1930s to re-create William Penn’s 1683 manor house in Bucks County, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in­advertently unleashed a storm of con­troversy over the way in which the site, its archeological evidence and its ar­chitecture should be interpreted. Long before reconstruction of the manor house was completed in 1938 (landscap­ing and furnishing occurred...
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Preserving Pieces of Pennsylvania’s Past: An Inside Look at the Building of the Commonwealth’s Collections

Associations between butterflies and buttons, Conestoga wagons and cannon, sculpture and arrowheads, or fossils and founder William Penn’s original Charter may seem tenuous, even obscure and, perhaps, nonsensical. But a relationship does exist: they are among the one and a half million objects and thirty thousand cubic feet of manuscripts, records, maps and photographs in the custody and...
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“I Would Have… A Brew House”

The quality of the beer in his new colony was important enough to William Penn for him to include it in his descrip­tion of Pennsylvania to entice prospective settlers. “Our Drink has been Beer and Punch, made of Rum and Water. Our Beer was mostly made of Molasses, which well boyld, with Sassafras or Pine infused into it, makes very tolerable drink; but now they make Mault, and Mault Drink...
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Shenks Ferry Revisited: A New Look at an Old Culture

In their efforts to trace the changing ways of life of ancient human societies, archaeologists have had to devise labels for each individ­ual culture they discovered. Often, these names seem strange and confusing. For example, in the Eastern United States, the term Late Wood­land Period has been given to all Indian cultures which prac­ticed large scale agriculture, and which existed between...
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Celebrating Fifty Years of State Historical Markers

On a September day in 1946, three men stood alongside U.S. Route 22, fourteen miles east of Harrisburg, inspecting a distinctive blue and gold sign that had just been erected. They were James H. Duff, chairman of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (who in four months would be inaugurated the Commonwealth’s thirty­-fourth governor), and Commission members Charles G. Webb and...
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Grave Sites, Petroglyphs, and Relics: The Turn of the Century Archaeology of David Herr Landis

Thousands of years ago, travelers from northeastern Asia­ – ancestors of Native Americans – followed the animals they hunted into what had once been inaccessible regions of Alaska. Over the newly-formed land bridge at the Bering Strait they came, eventually spreading across the North American continent, including the territory that became Pennsylvania. In the Commonwealth, as...
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Preserving The Past, Protecting The Future: The State Museum Of Pennsylvania

Part of a museum’s mission is to collect, safeguard, exhibit, and interpret relevant objects and artifacts, and The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg fulfills this goal with singular distinction. Since 1905, the institution has preserved vast collections that chronicle the Commonwealth’s history and natural heritage from earth’s beginning to the present (see...
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Archaeology in Black and White: Digging Somerset County’s Past During the Great Depression

In 1994, a small team of archaeologists drove south from temporary lodgings in Somerset, in southwestern Pennsylvania, on State Route (S.R.) 219, to a point just north of Meyersdale, turned left into Indian Dig Road, and then left again onto Pony Farm Road. The archaeologists traveled a short distance up hill along this unpaved dirt road, before pulling their battered – and much maligned...
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