High on a Mountain: Pennsylvania’s Legacy of Country Music

In 1607 Great Britain commenced the establishment of two colonial plantations. One of these was Jamestown in Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America. The other was much closer to home. The Ulster plantation was formed in the nine northern counties of Ireland. The goal of the colony was, in part, to extend British and Anglican hegemony over the Catholic and...
read more

Backcast: Pennsylvania’s Legacy of Split Cane Fly Rods

  It’s important not to rush this. A mistake will obliterate a month of work. I take care to make sure that my workbench is uncluttered, the lighting is adequate to the task, and the tools I’ll need are handy but not in the way. Before me is a tapered hexagonal shaft composed of Tonkin cane (Arundinaria amabilis McClure), a type of extraordinarily tough bamboo found mostly in southeastern...
read more

Castanea … From Blight to Backcross Breeding

Not far from my home at the base of the South Mountain in Cumberland County, there is a wide spot in the road where you can park a couple cars at the edge of a block of public land. From that place, the visible but overgrown bed of a Colonial-era haul road ascends the mountain. Scattered along the road are the small, flat and circular remains of 18th- and 19th-century charcoal kilns that...
read more

Digging Deep: 50 Years of Preservation Archaeology in Pennsylvania

On a lovely morning in early autumn, I arrive at an old farm along the Susquehanna River to find Dr. Frank Vento in his natural element. That is to say, he is squatting down at the bottom of a backhoe trench some 8 feet deep, carefully examining the many layers of flood-deposited sediment left behind by the great river. Frank, recently retired from the faculty at Clarion University, is a...
read more