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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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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Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation Newsletter

Topics in the Winter 2017 Newsletter: PHF Enhances Membership with Members-Only Events The Giving Circle Brent D. Glass Presentation and Book Signing Night of the Great Pumpkin a Smashing Success Powell Donation Helps Fund Mammal Hall Restoration Join the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation  ...
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New Dinosaur Identified and Named at The State Museum

After months of research and more than his fair share of sleepless nights, Steven Jasinski was ready to draft a new scientific study that would introduce the world to a recently discovered theropod dinosaur related to Velociraptor, which had flourished at the end of the dinosaur age 75 million years ago. All he needed to do now was name the small predator. Typically, paleontologists name a...
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Alfred King’s Forgotten Fossil Footprints

The science of paleontology – the study of ancient life based on fossils – began in Western Europe about 1800. It soon cropped up in the United States, as the populace of a young and growing nation discovered many fossils. Among these early discoveries were those of fossil footprints, most famously found during the early 1800s in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts and...
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Preserving The Past, Protecting The Future: The State Museum Of Pennsylvania

Part of a museum’s mission is to collect, safeguard, exhibit, and interpret relevant objects and artifacts, and The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg fulfills this goal with singular distinction. Since 1905, the institution has preserved vast collections that chronicle the Commonwealth’s history and natural heritage from earth’s beginning to the present (see...
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Executive Director’s Message

Caring for museum collections is one of the less visible, but among the most critical, functions of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The recent acquisition of a rare Conestoga wagon by our Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster County reminds us of our responsibility to allocate resources carefully and preserve the objects and artifacts that reflect our rich heritage. The wagon was...
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Bookshelf

Traveling the Pennsylvania Railroad: The Photographs of William H. Rau Edited by John C. Van Home, with Eileen E. Drelick Univer­sity of Pennsylvania Press, 2002 (272 pages, cloth, $49.95) In 1891 and again in 1893, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company (PRR) – known to generations by its sobriquet, “the Pennsy” – commissioned William Herman Rau (1855-1920), a well known...
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