Digging Deep: 50 Years of Preservation Archaeology in Pennsylvania

On a lovely morning in early autumn, I arrive at an old farm along the Susquehanna River to find Dr. Frank Vento in his natural element. That is to say, he is squatting down at the bottom of a backhoe trench some 8 feet deep, carefully examining the many layers of flood-deposited sediment left behind by the great river. Frank, recently retired from the faculty at Clarion University, is a...
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Lewistown Narrows

  The contrasting relief of Shade and Blue mountains with the Juniata River Valley creates a magnificent landscape near the border of Juniata and Mifflin counties. That splendor belies the obstacles that the topography has presented for engineers throughout the centuries. Archaeological excavations of the Lewistown Narrows within Juniata County have revealed artifacts dating back nearly...
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Geography and Resources: The Story of Adaptation

The country itself, in its soil, air, water, seasons, and produce, both natural and artificial, is not to be despised. – William Penn Man is a creative and inventive creature capable of either adapt­ing to the environment, when need be, or adapting the environment to suit his particular needs. In the words of Max Savelle, “the history of the Anglo­American colonies is . . . a history...
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Delaware County: Where Pennsylvania Began

Delaware County is part of the densely populated belt around Philadelphia, stretching from the city’s western boundary to the circular Delaware state line. Covering approx­imately 185 square miles, it is the third smallest Pennsylvania county yet the fourth largest in population. Its southern boundary is formed by the Delaware River, from which the county takes its name. The site of early...
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A Glimpse of Mercer County

Mercer County, situated on the western edge of the state about midway between Erie and Pittsburgh. takes its name from Hugh Mercer, who emi­grated to Pennsylvania from Scotland. Mercer settled in Franklin County where he established a medical prac­tice, but he achieved prominence as a military man fighting in the French and Indian War and serving with Gen­eral Washington in the early campaigns...
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Juniata’s Hills: “Rolling Over Crags to Woodlands”

Oh, the hills of Juniata, Oh, her stony wooded hills, and her flower-scented valleys and her crystal streams and rills, Rolling over crags to woodlands, ‘Tis a sight worth far to go, Sun-kissed hills of Juniata, Oh, they thrill and still me so. The above lines are taken from the county poem (officially accepted as such during the 1981 Tercentenary celebration), written by the late Dr....
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The Great Escape: Camping in the 19th Century

During the turbulent nineteenth century, Americans were as mobile as wheels, waterways and ambition could make them. The population was preoccupied with carving out a new nation, emigrating, pioneering, surveying, sod busting, prospecting for gold and, fundamentally, attempt­ing to preserve body and soul. With the surge westward and the consuming desire to push on to the frontiers, there was a...
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Montour County: The Little County that Persevered

Despite its size, Mon­tour County – with an area measuring one hundred and thirty square miles, making it the smallest county in the Commonwealth – claims an undeniably large role in the cultural, political and indus­trial development of Pennsyl­vania. Organized less than a century and a half ago, the county lays hold to a number of distinctions which hallmark its place in...
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Cambria County: Coming Full Circle

Located in the highlands of west­-central Pennsylvania and amidst forbidding mountains – the Allegheny escarpment and the Laurel Ridge standing sentinel on its eastern and western borders­ – the territory that would become Cambria County was not easily accessible to early Pennsylvanians. Migrants bound westward during the second half of the eighteenth century avoided its...
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Perry County: A Sportsman’s Paradise

Despite its proximity to Pennsylvania’s bustling and heavily urbanized capital city, Perry County remains a sportsman’s placid paradise with its thickly forested moun­tains and lushly verdant val­leys. Much like its neighboring counties – Franklin, Cumber­land, Juniata and Dauphin­ – Perry County claims a topogra­phy that is neither unique nor unusual: its mountains give...
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