Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

Coal and Coke in Pennsylvania

by Carmen DiCiccio
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1996 (223 pages, paper, 16.95)

Coal and Coke in Pennsylvania began in 1991 as a written guide for the nomination of soft coal operations and coke extractive facilities in western Pennsylvania to the National Register of Historic Places. During the project, diverse sources were consulted, including state and federal documents, local government records, maps, reports, general reference books, histories, scholarly works, even doctoral dissertations and masters theses. Information from on-site investigations was in­cluded, as was commentary provided by individuals at these sites. Retired miners identified extant buildings and structures at abandoned operations and archaeological remains. Long­time residents supplied maps, photographs, and written mater­ials which offered an accurate picture of how their communities and extractive facilities were originally laid out, and how they evolved over time. Visits to identified sites revealed a wide range of features, from archaeological remains to pristine, although abandoned, facilities that included all the buildings and structures required to mine bituminous coal, maintain mining operations, and transport the fuel to market. Western Pennsylvania’s coal and coke industries played a critical role in the development of the Commonwealth and the United States. At its peak, coal was mined in twenty-nine western counties, most of it concentrated in the six southwestern counties of Allegheny, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and West­moreland. Coal and Coke in Pennsylvania is a survey of the bituminous coal industry from its colonial era origins to the conclusion of World War II. While the book is not intended to be a definitive text, it is an introductory guide to this signifi­cant and fascinating industry. Illustrating Coal and Coke is a plethora of revealing photographs, many drawn from the holdings of the Pennsylvania State Archives, of company towns, miners’ housing, company stores, mining operations, coke plants, and miners’ families at work and play. In addition to charts, drawings, and tables, this study contains an exhaustive bibliography and extensive index.

 

Philadelphia’s Old Ballparks

by Rich Westcott
Temple University Press, 1996 (206 pages, cloth, $29.95)

Both a documentary and an oral history, Philadelphia’s Old Ballparks provides colorful descriptions of the city’s old profes­sional baseball fields and the many teams that played them. Philadelphia’s enormously rich baseball heritage is brought to life in this engrossing and highly anecdotal book, taking read­ers back in time to an era when the city’s ballparks were as famous and as much a part of the game as the players that took the field. Baseball in Philadelphia goes beyond legendary Shibe Park, to which fans thronged for decades. For instance, Baker Bowl, with its right field wall so close to home plate, prompted sports writer Red Smith (1905-1982) to quip, “It might be exag­gerating to say the outfield wall casts a shadow across the infield. But if the right fielder had eaten onions at .lunch, the second baseman knew it.” Tracing its history to the Civil War period, baseball in Philadelphia was played in four primary major league parks – Recreation Park, Columbia Park, Baker Bowl, and Shibe Park (renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1953) – but many other ball fields played brief roles in the local big league scene. At one point in the late nineteenth century, three teams, all playing in what were considered major leagues, per­formed within a few blocks of each other: the Phillies of the National League at Philadelphia Park, the Athletics of the American Association at Jefferson Park, and the Quakers of the Players’ League at Forepaugh Park. The Athletics, Philadelphia’s first professional team, was managed by Connie Mack from 1901 until 1950 (see “Philadelphia’s Mr. Baseball and His Amazing Athletics” by William C. Kashatus III in the Summer 1990 edition). Philadelphia’s Old Ballparks is more than a descrip­tion of fields of dreams; it showcases the people – from Mack and his illustrious World Series winners to the loyal fans, hot dog vendors, and smalltime gamblers – who made Philadel­phia baseball not just a tradition but an institution. The author’s use of anecdotes goes far beyond fleshing out such characters. Often amusing, but always insightful, these stories poignantly portray a way of life for Philadelphia’s players and the faithful fans who followed them season after season. Philadelphia’s Old Ballparks is a treasury of memories as important as the records that still stand.

 

The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania, 1753-1763: Fortification and Struggle During the War for Empire

by Louis M. Waddell and Bruce D. Bomberger
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1996 (112 pages, paper, $11.95)

Although the bitter conflict is widely known as the French and Indian War, historian Lawrence Henry Gipson has estab­lished its context in less colloquial terms as the North American theater of “The Great War for The Empire.” Establishing such historical context is important not only to historians, the guard­ians of memory, but also to archaeologists, curators, historic preservationists, researchers, and museum interpreters and educators. They are, essentially, the keepers of material legacy, and the material legacy of Pennsylvania during the French and Indian War is surprising. From the papers of Colonel Henry Bouquet and General John Forbes to the numerous surviving eighteenth-century-fort plans, the preserved stretches of Forbes’s and Braddock’s Roads, artifacts at. Fort Ligonier and other museums, and potential sites of significant but fragile archaeological value, the material legacy of this war in the Commonwealth is varied and extensive. The keepers of this material legacy require historical context to place their respon­sibilities in proper perspective and to give practical priority to preserving and conserving resources. The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania, 1753-1763: Fortification and Struggle During the War for Empire is a context document for sites on the present­-day landscape. While the authors have endeavored to make this a clear, readable document to serve strong public interest in this topic, the study’s conception was that of a preservation context. It is concerned with the relative significance and possi­ble archaeological intactness of the war’s military sites vis-a-vis one another. Significant sites such as Forts Ligonier, Loudoun, and Augusta have yielded abundant archaeological data that complement the historical record, but other sites have been lost to development and industrialization before any information could be recovered. This publication is intended to increase public understanding of the French and Indian War and of the value of identifying, preserving, and interpreting its sites, and to serve as a wieldy reference tool for historical archaeologists in preservation planning. The French and Indian War in Pennsyl­vania opens with a historical essay which discusses the origins of the war, the defeat of General Edward Braddock, the Forbes Campaign of 1758, and the Battle of Bushy Run (see “Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: North America’s Forgotten Conflict at Bushy Run Battlefield” by Jane Ockershausen in the summer 1997 issue). The book concludes with case studies of traditional private forts, an inventory of forts, an annotated bibliography, and an index. In addition to photographs of recent archaeological exca­vations and artifacts, the study is heavily illustrated with eigh­teenth-century maps, drawings, charts, sketches, and surveys.

 

Limestone Legends: The Papers and Recollections of the Fly Fishers’ Club of Harrisburg, 1947-1997

by Norm Shires and Jim Gilford, compilers
Stackpole Books, 1997 (356 pages, paper, $19.95)

All the great names known and revered by avid fly fishers are present and accounted for. Charlie Fox. Vince Marinaro. Ed Koch. Sam Slaymaker. George Harvey. And the legendary “limestoners” – Cumberland County’s spring-fed streams famous for lush aquatic vegetation and, hence, large trout­ – are here as well. Big Spring. Letort Spring Run. Falling Springs. Formed in 1947, members contend the Fly Fishers’ Club of Harrisburg is second only to the New York Anglers Club as the oldest fly-fishing organization in the United States. Many members also claim that the club is more tradition than organi­zation. Nevertheless, all members believe the most important contribution of the club has been “fostering the growth of fly­-fishing as a conservation-oriented pastime.” Limestone Legends: The Papers and Recollections of the Fly Fishers’ Club of Harrisburg, 1947-1997, not only celebrates a half-century of good sports­manship, friendship, and spirited competition, but it is a thoughtful anthology of angling scholarship presented by the famous fishers of Pennsylvania’s gently sweeping Cumberland Valley. Because these papers were originally presented to the club’s membership during luncheons and, later, annual din­ners, many are first person accounts, more essays than factual “how to” articles. Adding to a sense of intimacy these observa­tions convey are candid photographs of the masters practicing their craft. In his foreword, noted historian, writer, and angler Paul Schullery (see “Cumberland Valley Mornings: George Gibson and the Dawn of American Spring Creek Fishing” in the Spring 1996 issue) encourages perusers to “read this book for all its wonderful lessons in good fishing, and for all its jubi­lant camaraderie. But read it also for its sense of quest. The Fly Fishers’ Club of Harrisburg stands for the best of angling’s im­pulses. For the sporting code they have represented, the friend­ships they have nurtured, and the fishing theories they have advanced, we should all be very grateful.”