Finding Truth in the Frame: Leah Frances’ Discovery of Pennsylvania’s Historic Places

The National Park Service describes historic preservation as “a conversation with our past about our future.” Historic places are vital to this conversation, revealing the stories about the events, people and developments of a community’s past and representing its identity. In 1935 Verne E. Chatelain, a pioneer of public history and the first National Park Service historian, wrote the paper...
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High on a Mountain: Pennsylvania’s Legacy of Country Music

In 1607 Great Britain commenced the establishment of two colonial plantations. One of these was Jamestown in Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America. The other was much closer to home. The Ulster plantation was formed in the nine northern counties of Ireland. The goal of the colony was, in part, to extend British and Anglican hegemony over the Catholic and...
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Editor’s Letter

With the recent premiere of Country Music, director Ken Burns has launched another epic PBS TV docuseries that amplifies the significance of an enduring American institution. In this issue’s cover story, “High on a Mountain,” we follow up with a look at Pennsylvania’s key role in the evolution of country music and the state’s later contributions to the genre. Author Joe Baker takes us on a...
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Backcast: Pennsylvania’s Legacy of Split Cane Fly Rods

  It’s important not to rush this. A mistake will obliterate a month of work. I take care to make sure that my workbench is uncluttered, the lighting is adequate to the task, and the tools I’ll need are handy but not in the way. Before me is a tapered hexagonal shaft composed of Tonkin cane (Arundinaria amabilis McClure), a type of extraordinarily tough bamboo found mostly in southeastern...
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Historic Districts in Pennsylvania: An Evolving Sense of Place

Jim Thorpe, originally named Mauch Chunk, is a small and picturesque borough of well-preserved 19th-century buildings perched on the side of a mountain along the Lehigh River in Carbon County. It once served as an important railroad and coal shipping center. As these industries waned in the 20th century, the town sought new economic purpose by marketing its scenic appeal as the “Switzerland of...
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Gosztonyi Savings and Trust

The Gosztonyi Savings and Trust represents the Eastern European immigrant community’s financial investment in America and the singular vision of a woman determined to continue and expand her husband’s legacy. The bank building at 530 East 3rd Street, Bethlehem, Northampton County, was constructed around 1922, well into the evolution of the Gosztonyi family’s successful...
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A Visit to a Northampton County Gunsmith

George Washington was one of the first to recognize the abilities of the Northampton County craftsman. Much of this reputation was the result of the great number of Swiss and German settlers, with their incomparable skills, who chose the country as their home. Through two centuries this reputation has persisted and has even been enhanced by ensuing generations and new immigrant groups. Many...
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The Road to Resorts: Transportation and Tourism in Monroe County

Monroe County flourishes today as a lush, verdant resort and popular recreational area on the periphery of metropolitan centers. Tourism is sup­plemented by light industry which has left the largely rural setting relatively intact. Essentially, the county offers open countryside through which travelers make good time on interstate highways on their way to or from major cities and in which they...
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Back to the Land! Pennsylvania’s New Deal Era Communities

The economic collapse of 1929 ushered in a decade fraught with deep, often tremu­lous, questioning of the na­tion’s development and future. Many were the cries to re­turn to the land. As a result, two all-new rural communities founded in Pennsylvania in the mid-1930s – Norvelt, in Westmoreland County, and Penn-Craft, in adjacent Fayette County – remain today as testimony to...
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Northampton County: From Frontier Farms to Urban Industries – and Beyond

Sweeping across southcentral Pennsyl­vania lies the Great Valley and nestled in its northeastern corner is mod­ern Northampton County. Bordered on the east by the Delaware River, on the south by South Mountain and the piedmont, and on the west by the valley of the Lehigh River, the three hundred and seventy-two square mile re­gion is one of gently rolling hills and wooded valleys, with...
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