Rock Ford Plantation

Nestled in the rolling terrain of Lancaster’s Central Park, near the banks of the Conestoga River, sits historic Rock Ford Plantation, the stately Georgian-style manor of Revolutionary War general Edward Hand (1744-1802). Built in 1793 the nearly 200-acre farm offered respite from the bustle of nearby Lancaster for the Hand family. The property also included two barns, a tenant house, a...
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Pennsylvania Governors Residences Open to the Public

Pennypacker Mills Pennypacker Mills possesses a lengthy history dating to about 1720 when Hans Jost Hite built the fieldstone house and a gristmill near the Perkiomen Creek, Schwenksville, Montgomery County. Purchased in 1747 by Peter Pennypacker (1710-1770), the house was enlarged and a saw mill and a fulling mill were constructed. The property acquired its name for the three mills. Peter...
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Trails for the Holidays

As summer turns to fall and you start to wonder where the time went, rest assured that the Pennsylvania Trails of History still have much to offer before 2014 winds down. Take some time to explore your favorite site – or make a first visit – and see if the pace doesn’t slow just a bit. Between changing exhibits, special events and our regular offerings, it isn’t difficult to find...
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Looking Back at the Year: 2013

As 2013 draws to a close it’s time to look back at several of the highlights we covered in the Trailheads blog this year. As always, the historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History faced challenges with patience and perseverance, as paid and volunteer staff worked to provide engaging programs, tours and exhibits for visitors and for their local communities. The ongoing...
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Historian of Pennsylvania Exceptionalism: Samuel W. Pennypacker

Reflecting on “the play of forces” that propelled him to Pennsylvania’s governor’s office in 1903, Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker (1843–1916) confidently declared, “there is no such thing as an accident” (a notion popularized by Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis). This was not to say chance plays no part in history because he pronounced with equal certitude: “To every man certain...
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Washington County: From Ice Age to Space Age

Southwestern Pennsylvania was for centuries a happy hunt­ing ground for Indians who were living there as long as two thousand years ago. In fact, as the result of archaeological discoveries made at the Meadowcroft Rock Shelter near Avella between 1973 and 1975, University of Pittsburgh anthropologists have proven conclusively that Ice Age people roamed the forests of Washington County even...
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The Pocono Forests and the Military Movements of 1779

The forests of Monroe County’s Pocono Mountains are widely known for their “flaming foliage” of autumn and their springtime laurel and rhododendron blossoms. In this era of ecological and conservation concerns, those who know the Poconos hope that this natural beauty may be a heritage for unnumbered future generations to enjoy. The Pocono Forestry Association perceives in these...
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Fayette at the Crossroads

Fayette County has always been at the crossroads, both literally and figuratively, its destiny shaped by its location, the incredible riches of its natural resources and the vi­tality of a people descended from al­most every nation of Europe. It has a son of dual personality, geo­graphically divided between mountains and lowlands, historically divided into two almost equal eras of economic...
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If Only the Walls Could Talk: The Story of the Federal Barn

“There is no building that does nor develop some unexpected charm with age; but the early American barn, taking into consideration its reason for being, I’ve found to be an exceptional and impressive subject. The growth of moss, the dust of hay, the powdering of mortar in joints, the mellowing of cut stone, the aging of wood – all things thought to be unfortunate – are...
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McKean County: Where the Gold is Green

The great gold and silver rushes of the late nineteenth century to places such as the Black Hills, Colorado, Arizona, California and Alaska have long been hailed in story and song for their excite­ment, riches and heartbreak. But, the rush for “green gold” to McKean County during the same century was equally or more exciting. First, there were the forests – immense forests of...
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