The Big Engines That Could

On a blustery, chilly day in autumn of 1939, a dapper-looking man in his mid-forties climbed onto a railway station platform in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to watch the approach of a train. Amid billowing steam, shrouds of smoke, and rumbling loud enough to unnerve him, he watched an enormous locomotive scream past his vantage point. The sleek, sculpted machine, effortlessly pulling a passenger train,...
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Soaring Above “This School in the Clouds”

Each fall, when north­west winds blast down from Canada, knowledgeable bird watchers hurriedly make their way to the Appalachian Mountain ridges that zig west, then zag south through the center of the Keystone State. Binoculars in hand, they climb and hike the rocky ridge tops to await the thousands of hawks, eagles, and falcons flying south­ward. Autumn’s winds have beckoned people to...
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Lost and Found

Lost Solomon R. Dresser (1842-1911), who amassed a for­tune in the oil industry, built his palatial residence, Belleview Terrace, in Bradford, McKean County, in 1903 after being entranced by the Michigan Building at the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Many Bradford residents who grew wealthy during the oil boom years erected huge houses (see “Survival of An American Boom...
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Survival of an American Boom Town

No stirring debates reverberate through the chambers of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall; white-hot molten steel no longer pours out of the fiery cauldrons in the sprawling mills of Pittsburgh and Bethlehem; and little coal ripped from the earth by giant steam shovels in Carbon, Schuylkill, Luzerne, and Lackawanna Counties in the Keystone State’s anthracite region. As surprising as...
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Hummelstown Brownstone: A Victorian Era Treasure

Builders and contractors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries prized brownstone as one of the best and most versatile masonry materials in the United States. Whether used for curbing, windowsills,steps, lintels, stoops, foundations, and tombstones, or to grace the finest mansions as intricately carved statues or coping, brownstone filled the bill. Eminent American architects...
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Can It Already Be Fall?

New Exhibits An exciting new long-term exhibit recently opened at Drake Well Museum and Park at Titusville, Venango County. In the Summer 2011 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage, I profiled the building renovation project at Drake Well, including plans for a geothermal climate control system and a new comprehensive exhibit. There’s a Drop of Oil and Gas in Your Life Every Day, which made its...
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Barbara T. Zolli on “A Drop of Oil”

Crude oil, found in abundance in northwestern Pennsylvania, held out many possibilities by the mid-nineteenth century. It burned when ignited, served as a practical lubricant, was thought to have medicinal properties, and had been used for various purposes by generations of Native Americans. That it might be in ample supply became apparent to many locals when it oozed from the ground and...
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