House on a Hill: Connecting with the Past in Western Pennsylvania

“It is our family and local histories that are our most precious parts of culture, in my estimation. They put ‘meat on the bones’ of the artifacts we find. Of course, all family history is myth until we have the documentation that backs it up.” — Lynne Humphries-Russ   The narrow access road was hidden, and I almost missed the turnoff. I was anxious to see the...
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Looking Back at 2018

This past year marked the centennials of the end of World War I and the start of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Of special significance to Pennsylvania was the 300th anniversary of the death of founder William Penn. What follows is a brief glimpse of 2018 on the Pennsylvania Trails of History, a few highlights among many.   William Penn’s Legacy To commemorate the 300th anniversary of...
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The Kinzua Bridge

Once the highest and longest viaduct in the world, the Kinzua Bridge in McKean County was built in 1882 for the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad. Designed to carry heavy railroad cars filled with coal, lumber and oil across the deep Kinzua Creek gorge, the bridge was created from more than 3 million pounds of wrought iron by the Phoenix Bridge Co., a subsidiary of the Phoenix Iron Co....
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From the Executive Director

For many of us, spring is the traditional season to think about nature and the great outdoors, but here at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), we think about it all year long. It’s hard to separate Pennsylvania’s history from its natural history; in fact, PHMC is officially charged with “the conservation of Pennsylvania’s historic and natural...
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From the Executive Director

Throughout 2015 the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of The State Museum and Archives Complex in Harrisburg, Dauphin County. As you might expect, we will do some looking back with a full schedule of programs and events, changing exhibits, and special articles in Pennsylvania Heritage to mark this important milestone. But an anniversary...
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Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation Newsletter

Topics in the Spring 2014 Newsletter: PHMC Launches Natural History Initiative Trails of History Sites and Museums Highlights for April – June 2014 Welcome New PHF Members Welcome New State Museum Affiliate Members PHF Board  ...
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Bridging the Past for the Future

Because Pennsylvania was one of the first settled areas of the United States, it should come as little surprise that it possesses one of the most interesting collections of historic bridges of any state. Its ever-expanding population and consequent transportation requirements made the Keystone State a pioneer in transportation innovation, particularly in the design of bridges. Following the...
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Maurice K. Goddard: The Commonwealth’s Conservation Czar

There is a point in crossing the top of the Allegheny Mountains between Pittsburgh and Harris­burg at which a traveler sees, at every turn, only trees. It is one of the most spectacular views on the North American Continent. The scene lacks the frenetic energy of Niagara Falls, or the awe-filling majesty of the Grand Canyon, but this several­-hundred-square-mile panorama of second-growth forest...
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An Impressive Legacy: A Half-Century of Historic Preservation in Pennsylvania, 1955-2005

A quarter-century ago, James Biddle (1929-2005), president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, from 1968 to 1980, was named chairman of Pennsylvania’s first State Historic Preservation Board. Jimmy, as the scion of one of the Commonwealth’s most notable families was known – especially to fellow preservationists, many of them working at the grassroots level –...
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PHMC Highlights

If disaster strikes, what happens to the Commonwealth’s irreplaceable public records and historic documents is of critical importance. Last fall, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) staged a “mini-disaster” at the State Records Center in Harrisburg. Several staff members of the PHMC’s Bureau of Archives and History staff attended a two-day NARA disaster preparedness and...
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