The Early Days of the William Penn Highway: How Present-Day U.S. Route 22 Got its Start

At the dawn of the automobile age, the major roadways crossing Pennsylvania were rutted, dusty, farm-to-market thoroughfares traveled mainly by horses and wagons. Many of these were still privately owned turnpikes, some with wooden-plank road surfaces. Most towns had improved streets, but the paving, if any, usually ended at the city line. Stagecoach lines still operated here and there, but...
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Susquehannock Village at Lemoyne

Around 1610 a group of Susquehannocks, an Iroquoian-speaking Native American tribe, established a village perched on a bluff overlooking the Susquehanna River in what is today Lemoyne, Cumberland County. Fast forward to 2007 when archaeologists began excavating that site in advance of a proposed railroad connector project. There they uncovered evidence of the village, including a wooden...
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French Azilum Overlook

This scenic overlook in rural Bradford County, pictured in these postcards, provides a view of far more than a horseshoe bend in the broad North Branch of the Susquehanna River. It offers a glimpse of the location of the lost settlement of French Azilum — a historic site with a link to Queen Marie Antoinette of France — from a perch along an early auto tourism route where the Sullivan Trail...
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Chicken and Waffles: The Pennsylvania Story

In his 1861 local-color novel The Young Parson, German Reformed minister Peter Seibert Davis (1828–92) described chicken and waffles as the “stereotypical” Sunday supper among the Pennsylvania Dutch. How this dish moved from a regional identity food into mainstream American cookery is indeed a complicated story, especially since chicken and waffles reached its height of popularity during the...
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“The Not So Good Old Days”: Disease and the Struggle for Public Health in Pennsylvania

In 1930 A. J. Bohl was proud to work in the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). After 25 years there, he wrote an article in Pennsylvania’s Health in which he recalled growing up in the 1880s, when disease and illness ravaged the state. “There wasn’t much attention paid to the communicable diseases. Everybody, as a matter of course, had measles, chicken pox, whooping cough and mumps, and...
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Pennsylvania Polymath: Samuel Stehman Haldeman

Samuel Stehman Haldeman was a pioneer in American science with an uncompromising empirical bent who made definitive contributions in geology, metallurgy, zoology and the scientific study of language. His groundbreaking lifework touched nearly seven decades of science and included identification of one of the oldest fossils in Pennsylvania, elucidation of a plan for an anthracite coal furnace for...
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Remembering TMI 40 Years Later

In late March 1979, south-central Pennsylvanians were startled to learn of an accident that had occurred at Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant in the Susquehanna River near Middletown, Dauphin County. In my own experience, the initial news came to me at Dallastown Elementary School in York County after a teacher shouted out to my fifth-grade class to come back inside the school building...
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The Hunt for Pennsylvania’s Timber Rattlesnakes

In the early 19th century, pioneer adventurer Philip Tome recalled that it was common to see 30 or 40 timber rattlesnakes at a time near his home along the Susquehanna River. “The snakes were so numerous that we used to clear the yard and build fires to keep them away,” he recalled in his 1854 memoir, Pioneer Life; or, Thirty Years a Hunter. “On leaving the house we always put on a pair of...
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“Keeping with the Dignity of the Commonwealth”: 50 Years of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence

The stately Pennsylvania Governor’s Residence overlooking the Susquehanna River at 2035 North Front Street in the Uptown neighborhood of Harrisburg, Dauphin County, reaches its half-century mark in 2018, a milestone that is being observed with a variety of events and programs throughout the year. The Georgian Revival mansion was completed in 1968, during the term of Gov. Raymond P. Shafer, its...
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Celebrities Discover Who They Are at the Pennsylvania State Archives

Archivist Aaron McWilliams smiles and shifts his gaze toward the floor when asked about his brush with TV stardom. Every so often, a patron visiting the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, where he works, will ask him what it was like to appear alongside veteran Hollywood actor Steve Buscemi on a 2011 episode of Who Do You Think You Are? a reality series in which...
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