Allentown’s Boom Decade

Allentown underwent rapid development in the 1850’s. Population grew at the rate of 116 percent from 3,779 in 1850 to 8,025 in 1860. This expansion in population was matched by territorial growth in 1852 as a sizable section of land to the east of the original borough – the land lying between the Jordan and Lehigh rivers – was annexed. The economic basis for this development...
read more

Grif Teller Paints the Pennsy

Grif Teller never drew a Pennsylvania Railroad paycheck, yet today his name is more widely recognized and more closely associated with that monolithic transportation machine than the names of any of the company’s fourteen presidents. From 1928 to 1942 and from 1947 through 1958, Teller cre­ated the distinctive oil paint­ings for the railroad’s annual advertising calendars, which were...
read more

Northumberland County: The Mother County

Although named for the most northern of England’s shires, Northumberland County has been often called by many the “Mother County.” Organized on March 21, 1772, as Pennsylvania’s tenth county, at one time it encom­passed eighteen thousand square miles! The county once extended from the Lehigh to the Allegheny rivers, with the New York border as its north­ern boundary. Its...
read more

America’s Dream Highway

Almost no one could have foreseen, fifty years ago, that an experiment in trans­portation engineering mean­dering across the rugged southern Alleghenies could profoundly affect the way tens of millions of Americans tra­vel. But from the very day it opened on October 1, 1940, the Pennsylvania Turnpike did just that – despite the fact that its first section ran from nowhere to nowhere. The...
read more

Mailbox

For continuing research, as well as a forthcoming article in Pennsylvania Heritage, on Philadelphia’s historic Fairmount Water Works, information and ephemera relating to the Fairmount Park Aquarium are being collected. The attraction, one of the first aquariums in the United States, opened to the public in 1911 in the engine house, began deteriorating after World War II, and finally dosed...
read more

The Anthracite Aristocracy Takes to the Mountains

Hidden high in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania­ – about a dozen miles north of Hazleton and less than half that distance south of Wilkes­-Barre – lies a small late nineteenth century retreat known to very few. Developed by coal barons and the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company in 1882, the hamlet’s fifty distinctive “summer cottages,” with equally distinctive...
read more

“The Greatest Highway to the West”: Photographer William H. Rau Documents the Pennsylvania Railroad

It is perfectly safe in saying the amateur, and even the professional, will have much to learn from the results of this photo­graphic expedition, fitted out some months ago by the Pennsylvania Railroad with as much care and almost the expense of an Arctic one, and which is still in the field of exploration, daily sending in remarkable illustrations of choice picture finds and showing that which...
read more

Disaster – Or Murder? – In the Mines

In Winter 1959, after two days of drenching rain and unseasonably high temperatures, the frozen Susquehanna River began surging wildly. A recording station in Wilkes­-Barre, Luzerne County, measured the rise of the water level from 2.1 feet on Tuesday, January 20, to just below the 22-foot flood stage by Friday night. Wary Wilkes-Barre area residents kept a close watch, knowing that the river...
read more

“Your Future Depends on Yourself”: Asa Packer as the Self-Made Man

Nineteenth-century literature abounds with stories of men who rose from humble circumstances to great wealth by virtue of their own diligence, perseverance, and courage. Several of the most famous such works, novels written by Horatio Alger Jr. (1832-1899), became best-sellers because the American public relished his stories about plucky boys achieving their goals against all odds. In his first...
read more

Life on Wheels: Camping in Pennsylvania

Does father crave to fish for trout and bass and pike and musky? Take him auto-touring. Does sister want to dip in the surf, or study art, or see the world? Toke her automobile vacationing. Has grand-dad the “hoof and mouth disease” so that he craves the green of far-away courses? Auto-comp him to a dozen golf courses. Does mother sigh for a rest from doily routines? Take her...
read more