Pleistocene Preserved: The Lost Bone Cave of Port Kennedy

On October 29, 1895, more than 90 members attended a meeting at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Following the routine business of the publication committee’s report and the announcement of one member’s death, Henry Chapman Mercer (1856–1930) rose to speak about the ongoing exploration of a geological feature known as Irwin’s Cave in Montgomery County. The Philadelphia Inquirer...
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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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From the Executive Director

As the state’s history agency, the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission holds historic objects and documents in trust for the people of Pennsylvania. The breadth of these collections is staggering. Within the Pennsylvania State Archives, we preserve some of the oldest documents in the state, such as William Penn’s 1681 Charter, the 1682 Great Law of Pennsylvania, and 33 deeds starting...
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Monster Bones: Charles Willson Peale and the Mysterious Nondescript Animal

On October 14, 1800, a New York City newspaper called Mercantile Advertiser published a rather lengthy news/opinion piece on some large and very curious bones that had been unearthed on a farm belonging to John Masten, located about 14 miles from the New York state village of Newburgh. The unidentified author observed that “these huge bones irresistibly force upon us by the power of associating...
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Editor’s Letter

The cover of this edition of Pennsylvania Heritage is graced with the famous 1822 painting titled The Artist in His Museum, in which Charles Willson Peale portrayed himself at age 81 in the museum he established in Philadelphia, located at the time in the Long Gallery on the second floor of the Pennsylvania State House (now called Independence Hall). In the painting, Peale lifts a curtain,...
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Rising from the Muck: The Marshalls Creek Mastodon

For as long as I can remember, I have known of the little village of Marshalls Creek, near East Stroudsburg, in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Monroe County. My maternal grandparents, Bertha and Arthur Pflieger, rented a cottage each summer in the Poconos at the Cottage Colony, part of the Mountain Lake House, a popular resort for many New Yorkers and city dwellers during the 1940s and the...
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