Looking Back at the Year: 2013

As 2013 draws to a close it’s time to look back at several of the highlights we covered in the Trailheads blog this year. As always, the historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History faced challenges with patience and perseverance, as paid and volunteer staff worked to provide engaging programs, tours and exhibits for visitors and for their local communities. The ongoing...
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Cornplanter Speaks to the Thirteen Fires

Winter had broken into spring so that the trail through the wilds of Pennsylvania leading east from Fort Pitt was at least passable. The Com­missioners of Indian Affairs who had spent the winter at the fort set out with the first break in the weather anxious to return home and report their Indian treaty negotiations to the Continental Congress. They had been gone only a few days when, on the...
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Tioga County: A Last Frontier

Fallbrook, Hoytville, Landrus and Leetonia are names that evoke memories of the past for some Tiogans, while for others, build­ings or a place on a map serve as re­minders of what has been. These names are evidence of the establish­ment, growth and demise of economic centers – coal mines, lumber mills and tanneries – important in Tioga County’s past. Today, these enterprises...
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A Good Day’s Catch: Commercial Fishing in Erie

The view from the crest of Erie’s lower State Street is a powerful one. Framed by the tall masts and spars of Oliver Hazard Per­ry’s restored War of 1812 flagship, the Niagara, are the waters of Presque Isle Bay. In the distance, the Presque Isle Peninsula is visible as it curves around and shelters the bay, and beyond that looms the ocean-like expanse of Lake Erie. The bayfront area...
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McKean County: Where the Gold is Green

The great gold and silver rushes of the late nineteenth century to places such as the Black Hills, Colorado, Arizona, California and Alaska have long been hailed in story and song for their excite­ment, riches and heartbreak. But, the rush for “green gold” to McKean County during the same century was equally or more exciting. First, there were the forests – immense forests of...
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Bradford County: Sanctuary in the Meadows

It seemed as implausible as it was urgent: that French aristo­crats, the select inner circle closest to King Louis XVI, and perhaps even Marie Antionette herself, would flee the conti­nent and take refuge in the immense and isolated wilderness of what is now Bradford County. Implausible or not, a band of brave French exiles – the crown’s endangered courtiers and office­holders,...
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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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Pennsylvania Woman as Pioneer: Hanna Tiffany Swetland (1740-1809)

When the swollen waters of the Susquehanna River roared and smashed over its banks in the Spring of 1972, bringing destruction to property and homes and despair to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania citizens, one of the hardest hit areas was the Wyoming Valley in Northeastern Pennsylvania with its many small towns. One such community was the quaintly and historically named Forty Fort. That...
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The Revolution Affects Pennsylvania Communities

Every county and community in the Commonwealth was in some way involved or connected with the American Revolution and Pennsylvania’s attainment of statehood. Certain places associated with famous events in the struggle for independence come to mind immedi­ately: Philadelphia, Lancaster, and York for civil affairs, and Brandywine, Germantown, Whitemarsh, Valley Forge, and Washington’s...
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A Tour Through Very Early York County

Everyone has some interest in the past, even if only an intrinsic realization that our present existence is shaped by past experiences. For many, there is a much greater aware­ness of our debt to the past, or at least an abiding interest in prior human events and products. The degree and reasons for these curiosities vary enor­mously: from the function of a rusted tool, or the fascina­tion with...
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