Ruthless Tide by Al Roker

Ruthless Tide The Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood, America’s Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster by Al Roker William Morrow, 303 pp, cloth $28.99 The Johnstown Flood of 1889 retains  its fascination. The flood was caused by the breaking of a dam owned by the South Fork Fishing & Hunting Club, a group of Pittsburgh industrialists and financiers. In a horrifying display of the...
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Editor’s Letter

This issue of Pennsylvania Heritage marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into the First World War in April 1917. The focus comes as part of PHMC’s Pennsylvania at War initiative, a multiyear commemoration of the centennial of World War I and the 75th anniversary of World War II. The Keystone State contributed significantly to the Allied effort in World War I, with more than...
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A Tragic Day in Echo: The Southern Cambria Railway Trolley Accident

There are few hot days during the summer in Johnstown, Cambria County, but this day, Saturday, August 12, 1916, would be one of them. It was a good time to live in this bustling mill town nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. Newspapers were reporting appalling numbers of soldiers killed and wounded in the Battle of the Somme, an ocean away, but the war was not yet a local...
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Romani in Pennsylvania

This fascinating early 20th-century postcard of a scene from Williamsport, Lycoming County, provides a view of life in Pennsylvania that is seldom represented in formal historic records or in preservation efforts. Cultures that exist outside the mainstream and especially those not linked to specific places pose a special challenge to historians. The word “Gypsy,” which appears on...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation Newsletter

Topics in the Summer 2016 Newsletter: Giving Circle Dinner Pennsylvania Wildlife Art Exhibit Opens Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry Day Naturalist Scott Weidensaul to Speak at The State Museum Lulos Joins PHF Board Join the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation  ...
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The Dream of Security: Johnstown and Flood Control

They don’t take rain for granted in Johnstown anymore. Walking down Market Street or cruising Route 56, pedestrians may pause and drivers may slow as the first drops land. Anxious glances skyward reveal the unspoken thought: will it happen again? They are re­calling the terrible night in July 1977 when the rain fell and fell and the dream of a flood-free Johnstown shattered for­ever. That...
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Cambria County: Coming Full Circle

Located in the highlands of west­-central Pennsylvania and amidst forbidding mountains – the Allegheny escarpment and the Laurel Ridge standing sentinel on its eastern and western borders­ – the territory that would become Cambria County was not easily accessible to early Pennsylvanians. Migrants bound westward during the second half of the eighteenth century avoided its...
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To Organize the Unorganized

The year 1919 was marked by an explosion of activity in the American labor movement. Discontent surged among industrial workers as promises of wage increases and improved working conditions, made by employers during World War One, failed to materialize. Telegraph operators, theater ushers and textile workers joined firemen, policemen and dock workers to oppose some of the country’s most...
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The ‘State’ of Allegheny

One of the first centers of the organization of the Re­publican party and scene of its first national conven­tion in February, 1856, Allegheny County was strongly for Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860. As the vote count proceeded, one of the leaders kept sending telegrams to Lincoln’s home in Illinois, keeping him up on the news that “Allegheny gives a majority of …...
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A Salute to the Bicentennial of the Keystone State

The current Bicentennial celebration commemorates not the birth of the United States, but the proclama­tion of thirteen British-American colonies that were “free and independent states” as of July 4, 17.76. When they formed a loose compact in 1761, their articles of confederation declared that “each state retains its sover­eignty, freedom and independence.” The...
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