Trailheads

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that resulted in airliner crashes into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Anyone old enough to remember 9/11 can recall the wall-to-wall news coverage and vivid sense of national grief about the destruction and lives lost. The...
read more

The Man for the Moment: Tom Ridge and the 9/11 Inflection Point

  On the cloudless, blue-sky morning of September 11, 2001, Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, unaware the State Police in Harrisburg were looking for him, was at his Erie home enjoying the crisp air while he cleared his raised flower beds of dead stems and dried leaves. Gardening was a favorite pastime for the Vietnam War veteran and former congressman. For Ridge, that peaceful moment in his...
read more

Col. Paul J. Evanko’s Field Notes from 9/11

The United States was changed forever on the morning of September 11, 2001, when it was attacked by members of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. One of the four airliners that was hijacked as part of the attack was United Airlines Flight 93, originally scheduled from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, California. Flight 93 crashed in a field in Stonycreek Township, near Shanksville, in...
read more

Editor’s Letter

Twenty years ago, Pennsylvania became the setting for one of the most tragic but heroic episodes in recent U.S. history, when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a meadow in Somerset County after passengers fought back at al-Qaeda hijackers who had planned to use the aircraft for an attack on an unknown target in Washington, D.C. In this issue we mark the somber anniversary of 9/11 with the...
read more

Trailheads

What is there left to say about 2020? In previous issues, we’ve chronicled the response of PHMC’s Trails of History sites to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of early October, it looked unlikely that sites would reopen by the end of the year. The uncertainty surrounding reopening sites and welcoming visitors in person has caused a great deal of frustration on all fronts. Nevertheless, our staff and...
read more

Fort Dewart on the Forbes Road

Fort Dewart, which straddles the border of Bedford and Somerset counties in southern Pennsylvania, was a British military redoubt built in August 1758 during the French and Indian War, the North American conflict in the global Seven Years’ War (1756–63) between Great Britain and France. The small fortification was part of a chain of defensive forts and supply stops built by the troops of Gen....
read more

William Curtis Truxal’s Footlocker

William Curtis Truxal (1882–1960) was a 34-year-old attorney residing in Somerset when the Pennsylvania National Guard unit he commanded, Company C of the 10th Infantry Regiment, was mustered into federal service for World War I on July 15, 1917. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, he had first enlisted in the guard as a private in February 1914, and by October of that...
read more

The Sacrifices of Company C: Somerset County’s Valiant Soldiers in the Great War

In spring 2004 a resident of Somerset in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, chanced upon an aged postcard that had fallen behind a dresser many years before. Dated November 7, 1918, the postcard had been sent by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, and was addressed to “the Family of Herbert Foust,” a soldier of Company C, 110th Infantry Regiment, a Pennsylvania...
read more

Editor’s Letter

Forty some years ago, when I was in elementary school, I took a field trip with my science class to The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg to see the dioramas of Pennsylvania’s wildlife in Mammal Hall. Walking around the dark, circular gallery, I peered through windows into the fascinating, realistic habitats of 13 mammals, from the common to the locally extinct, and was transported to...
read more

From Memory to Memorial by J. William Thompson

From Memory to Memorial: Shanksville, America, and Flight 93 by J. William Thompson Penn State University Press, 200 pp., paper $19.95 The crash site and memorialization of Flight 93 near Shanksville, Somerset County, hasn’t received as much attention as the other sites touched by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This short, thoughtful and exceptionally well-written book brings...
read more