The Inventor from Ercildoun: William Chester Ruth

It is apt to remember inventor William Chester Ruth (1882–1971) as a pinion in both his community and his machine shop and as a bridge between cultures and eras. The son of a man who had been enslaved until his 13th year and a woman from a distinguished free Black family, “Chester” displayed both confirmation of talent inherited from his parents and his own innovative path to the future. Steeped...
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Bubley by Greyhound: Photographing Wartime Rationing

Most photographs from World War II document industries or overseas military activities. Rarely do we get a look at daily life on the home front. One young woman who was documenting ordinary lives at that time was Esther Bubley (1921–98), who became known for taking intimate photos of people despite lugging around a large camera. There’s no better example of that than a story from her niece Jean...
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Editor’s Letter

“You can give humanistic value to almost anything by teaching it historically.” So wrote American philosopher William James in an address he delivered in 1907. Even such disciplines as “geology, economics and mechanics,” he continued, are “humanities when taught with reference to the successive achievements of the geniuses to which these sciences owe their being.” By extension, the features in...
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Coatesville Veterans Hospital

More than 4.5 million men and women served in the various branches of the United States military during World War I. It was the first fully mechanized war, with soldiers exposed to mustard gas and other chemicals. The large number of veterans and the hazards of service resulted in a need for the U.S. government to provide specialized medical care on a scale not seen since the Civil War. Within...
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Kennywood in the Space Age: How a Traditional Amusement Park Raced into the Future

Every year, at any amusement park, the first thaw of spring brings excitement for the new season. As the days got longer in 1990 Kennywood Park began tearing off the bright blue front of its Racer roller coaster. The goal was to rebuild it in the style of the 1927 original, with lattice work around an archway fronting a curved roof that extended back over the loading platform. For three decades...
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The Ship Hotel: Afloat with the Lincoln Highway’s Most Unusual Landmark

In 1931 the first and only baby was born at the Grand View Point Hotel, 18 miles west of Bedford, Bedford County. Little Clara was the pride of her grandfather Herbert J. Paulson (1874-1973), a Dutch immigrant who had built the hotel on the side of a mountain along the winding, two-lane Lincoln Highway. Clara grew up in the hotel, which “Captain” Paulson turned into the ship-shaped...
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From the Editor

The theme we adopted for Pennsylvania Heritage’s 40th anniversary is “Telling Stories, Sharing History,” which has been our mantra since the magazine debuted in 1974. This edition is particularly rich with stories that will broaden readers’ understanding and appreciation of the Commonwealth’s 20th-century history. In fact, all three of the feature articles, in...
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Somerset County: Paths through the Roof Garden

Referring to the high elevation and the scenic quality of the region, Gov. Martin G. Brumbaugh called Somerset County “the Roof Garden of Pennsylvania” at an annual Farmers’ Day picnic in 1916. Since then. the description has become a familiar and respected title; the words “Roof Garden” have been in­corporated in the names of various businesses, and the complete...
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Fulton County: Where Country is Still Country

When the first settlers wandered into the Great Cove – a deep basin formed by the southern ranges of the Kit­tochtinny and Tuscarora mountains – they discovered strikingly beautiful valleys, incised with sparkling streams, whose only intrusions were Indian trails and remote pack­ers’ paths. During the two centuries since its settlement, the picturesque mountain ridges and...
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Currents

It’s a Zoo! When the Zoological Society of Philadelphia was organized at the home of Dr. William Camac (its first presi­dent) on March 21, 1859, it was the first of its kind in North America. In spite of its auspicious beginnings, the early years of the Philadelphia Zoo – now touted as “America’s First Zoo”­ – were dampened by the Civil War, which not only...
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