The Delaware Station of the Philadelphia Electric Company

The monumental Delaware Station of the Philadelphia Electric Company is situated on the edge of the Delaware River in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood. Completed in 1923, it was for decades a major provider of electricity to the city’s industries and homes, but today plans are underway to rehabilitate it for new uses. The Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) was founded in 1899 and...
read more

Delaware County: Where Pennsylvania Began

Delaware County is part of the densely populated belt around Philadelphia, stretching from the city’s western boundary to the circular Delaware state line. Covering approx­imately 185 square miles, it is the third smallest Pennsylvania county yet the fourth largest in population. Its southern boundary is formed by the Delaware River, from which the county takes its name. The site of early...
read more

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...
read more

“The Greatest Thing That Ever Happened to Us Country People”

On a Halloween night early in the 1930s, a barn caught fire a few miles from Corry, Erie County. A passer by, Harry Burrows, hurriedly tied his horse and ran to help free the trapped animals. In the excitement no one noticed that the farm’s hired man was missing, but later they learned that his kerosene lantern was the cul­prit in starting the fire. “Some time, some way, he knocked...
read more

Pennsylvania’s First Television Station: “Loving What We Were Doing”

No champagne corks popped at Philadel­phia’s old Philco plant on October 17, 1941, to celebrate. The achievement failed to rate even a few lines in local newspapers as reports of the increasingly grim drama unfolding in Eu­rope took chilling precedence. Like so many of the seemingly minor events that herald major changes in our way of living, America’s first commercial network...
read more

The Battles Bank: When Honesty Was Collateral and Chickens Paid the Interest

On the day the pri­vately owned R. S. Battles Bank in Girard, Erie County, closed, it had been in operation for eighty-seven years. For nearly a century its owners had steadfastly offered services to their depositors despite panics, recessions, depressions, robberies, even a presidential proclamation. Oddly enough, the doors of the vine covered brick building were ultimately closed in 1946 by...
read more

Expanding A Vision: Seventy-Five Years of Public History

Three-quarters of a century ago, it proba­bly surprised no one that the first act of the Pennsylvania Historical Com­mission, not long after its creation in 1913, was to survey all monuments and memorials in the Commonwealth’s sixty­-seven counties. At that time it was universally assumed that public history involved com­memoration and the rituals associated with recognizing significant...
read more

Rural Bust and Boom: Snyder County, 1880-1920

Between 1880 and 1920 a dialectic of sorts operated in Snyder County. These were years of decline. This decline was both absolute, in population and the generation of wealth, and relative, when compared to the growth in numbers, wealth and cultural richness occuring elsewhere. The area did not have easily tilled fertile soil; its minerals were neither accessible nor rich; its population was...
read more

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...
read more

Presence from the Past: A Gift to the Future Through Historic Preservation

The United States is a nation and a people on the move. It is in an era of mobility and change … The result is a feeling of rootlessness combined with a longing for those land­marks of the past which give us a sense of stability and belonging … If the preservation movement is to be successful, it must go beyond saving bricks and mortar. It must go beyond saving occasional historic...
read more