The Old Stone Arch Bridge over Jack’s Creek

The Old Stone Arch Bridge over Jack’s Creek in Derry Township, Mifflin County, captured in this c.1937 postcard, has been enhancing travelers’ journeys ever since 1813, when it was built as part of the first turnpike to connect Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Construction of this segment of the road began in Lewistown and was completed to Harrisburg in 1825. The single-span, semielliptical stone...
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Branch Line Empires by Michael Bezilla with Luther Gette

Branch Line Empires The Pennsylvania and the New York Central Railroads by Michael Bezilla, with Luther Gette Indiana University Press, 370 pp., cloth $55, e-book $54.99 During my time as a student at Penn State, I saw plenty of railroad tracks in Centre and Clearfield counties. Many of them were weed-grown and disused. I thought, “Somebody built these, but why? And what happened?” Now author...
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1918’s Deadliest Killer: The Flu Pandemic Hits Pennsylvania

I had a little bird, Its name was Enza. I opened the window, And in-flu-enza. —Children’s rhyme, 1918 The year 1918 was arguably one of the darkest in modern times and the deadliest ever recorded in human history. Much of Europe was locked in a hideous, relentless military struggle that had dragged on for three years, killing millions of soldiers and bankrupting its governments. Famine stalked...
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Coatesville Veterans Hospital

More than 4.5 million men and women served in the various branches of the United States military during World War I. It was the first fully mechanized war, with soldiers exposed to mustard gas and other chemicals. The large number of veterans and the hazards of service resulted in a need for the U.S. government to provide specialized medical care on a scale not seen since the Civil War. Within...
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The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania: Smithsonian Affiliation and New Museum History Book

Smithsonian Affiliations has accepted the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania as one of its newest members, clearing the way for the eventual exhibition of Smithsonian artifacts at the site in Strasburg, Lancaster County. “This type of association with the Smithsonian gives you instant credibility” said Jeffrey Bliemeister, director of the Railroad Museum. “It’s a good marketing tool that I hope...
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The Lindbergh Engine: Racing through Time with Pennsylvania Railroad Locomotive No. 460

Sometimes an artifact can convey tremendous information simply by its presence. That is certainly the case with Pennsylvania Railroad Locomotive No. 460, housed at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Lancaster County. Even without a label to read or any other type of interpretation to take in, a visitor will instantly comprehend the power the 243,000-pound steam locomotive is...
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Modernizing Center City: Philadelphia’s Penn Center

Modernism came to Philadelphia in September 1947. It had been creeping up on the city for some time, but that’s when the citizenry who for decades had come to expect little from the machine that controlled city politics came to see how a modern Philadelphia could look. It was a 10-part vision of Modernism presented by the City Planning Commission’s Better Philadelphia Exhibition that was...
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The Pennsylvania Turnpike, From Tollbooths to Tunnels: Rediscovering America’s First Superhighway at 75

Few Pennsylvania-born celebrities have made the kind of splash that the Pennsylvania Turnpike did when it first arrived on the scene in October 1940. Its 160 miles of limited-access, four-lane paved highway across the Alleghenies were hailed as America’s answer to the Autobahn, Germany’s highly regarded network of high-speed “super roads.” After the war, as the United States’ population expanded...
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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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Executive Director’s Letter

To this day I can distinctly remember the palpable excitement I felt as a child going up to the attic with my grandmother to explore all the wonderful old treasures secreted there. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and The State Museum of Pennsylvania have recently initiated a project to rediscover and examine the Commonwealth’s hidden gems that have long been stored away....
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