Pennsylvania Polymath: Samuel Stehman Haldeman

Samuel Stehman Haldeman was a pioneer in American science with an uncompromising empirical bent who made definitive contributions in geology, metallurgy, zoology and the scientific study of language. His groundbreaking lifework touched nearly seven decades of science and included identification of one of the oldest fossils in Pennsylvania, elucidation of a plan for an anthracite coal furnace for...
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Pleistocene Preserved: The Lost Bone Cave of Port Kennedy

On October 29, 1895, more than 90 members attended a meeting at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Following the routine business of the publication committee’s report and the announcement of one member’s death, Henry Chapman Mercer (1856–1930) rose to speak about the ongoing exploration of a geological feature known as Irwin’s Cave in Montgomery County. The Philadelphia Inquirer...
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Natural History Trails

Charles Willson Peale’s Philadelphia Museum, although relatively short-lived, influenced the development of similar projects elsewhere. In 1827, the year Peale died, the Harmony Society at Economy in Pennsylvania opened one of the first natural history museums west of the Alleghenies. Like Peale’s museum, the Harmonist effort was largely exhausted by the middle of the 19th century, and its...
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William Wagner Portrait by Thomas Sully

In 1836, eminent Ameri­can artist Thomas Sully (1783-1872) painted a por­trait of William Wagner (1796-1885), Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist, which had, until last year, remained in private hands. More than a century after its creation, the likeness has virtually returned “home” to the Wagner Free Institute of Science, founded by Wagn­er and his wife Louisa Bin­ney...
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From the Editor

If you’re like, you care greatly about the world around you – historic buildings, quaint neighborhoods, beautiful public works of art, local landmarks, and picturesque parks and landscapes – and want to see them preserved for enjoyment today and tomorrow. And if you’re like me, you’ll welcome this new “look” for Pennsylvania Heritage. We developed this...
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Mississippian Amphibian

When people think of fossil vertebrates, they usually think of fossilized bones or footprints, the most common of remains. On rare occasions, paleontologists may come across other fossils that are truly exceptional, such as an entire body outline or impression. A recent rediscovery of a highly unusual specimen hidden away in the vaults of the Reading Public Museum in Reading, Berks County, has...
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Dan Desmond, Eyewitness to Energy History

Pennsylvania news writers have crowned him Pennsylvania’s Energy Czar and legions of admirers look to him as the Keystone State’s energy guru. And it’s little wonder why. Daniel J. Desmond served the Commonwealth for nearly two decades and helped guide the growth of Pennsylvania’s renewable energy industry. He joined the Pennsylvania Energy Office in 1983 and served as...
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Pennsylvania’s First State Geologist: Henry Darwin Rogers

Geology made Pennsylvania what it is today. The mining of anthracite and bituminous coal, the drilling for petroleum, and the production of iron and steel in the Commonwealth long drove the economy of the United States. Elucidating the history of the geological study of Pennsylvania is an integral part of comprehending its history. Henry Darwin Rogers (1808–1866), the first State Geologist of...
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