Fall 2009

Volume XXXV, Number 4


Executive Director's Letter
Barbara Franco

PHMC Executive Director Barbara Franco provides a realistic, but encouraging note on PHMC's innovative efforts to adapt to the realities of reduced state budgets. She writes about ideas to sustain the mission of PHMC, notes special events, such as a wind power exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and reminds readers about the annual Holiday Marketplace that will take place in Harrisburg, November 19 and 20.

From the Editor
Michael J. O'Malley III

Editor Michael J. O'Malley III touches on Pennsylvania's long history of "green technology." He guides readers to the most notable features of the current issue, such as an interview with Rich Saylor, the author of a new book about Pennsylvania's Civil War soldiers who became governors. O’Malley also presents a green energy gem from Pennsylvania's past - a wind engine water pump, patented and built in 1884 in Lancaster County by David Herr Bausman.


Your letters to discuss whatever is on the minds of our readers - whether describing their own experiences or about what we did right and, what we did wrong!

Wish You Were Here!

This edition's penny postcard comes from the year 1904 and the Clarion River in Forest County, showing the Piney Hydroelectric Dam and spillway, bucolic and colorized on the postcard just ten years after the Clarion River Power Company built the dam.

Harnessing the Power of the Wind: A Contemporary Use for a Historic Energy Source
Kenneth C. Wolensky

Like the iconic old windmills of Holland, the use of windmills dates back centuries. Many Pennsylvania farmers have long depended on windmills to pump water from underground for drinking, cooking, and irrigation. At one time, there were more than one thousand windmill manufacturers in the country. One of the most unusual, but successful patents accompanied David Herr Bausman's Wind Engine, manufactured in Lancaster County. The public generally seems to agree on the need for clean, renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. The U.S. Department of Energy advocates by 2030 that 20 percent of electricity in the country should be generated by wind power. This article chronicles Pennsylvania's commitment to this energy source. Author and PHMC historian Kenneth C. Wolensky interviewed Joe Green, who along with his wife, took a financial risk until enough investors could be found to finance the turbines and towers for a new wind farm at a cost of about two million dollars each. A visit to a wind farm in Somerset County inspired Green's entrepreneurial spirit to develop Locust Ridge Wind Farm, with its sixty-four wind turbines straddling Columbia and Schuylkill counties, expected to generate at least 128 megawatts of electricity - enough to power 40,000 homes. Additionally, Gamesa Energy of Spain builds huge blades for its turbines in Pennsylvania at Ebensburg, Cambria County. Gamesa turbines and blades, many of which are visible, for example, at Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, located between Altoona, Blair County, and Ebensburg. Wolensky brings witness to a contemporary subject, but historic in potential. A brief history of windmills is also included, and readers will enjoy illustrations that were beautifully photographed by award-winning PHMC photographer Don Giles.

When the Susquehanna River Was Pennsylvania's Flour Highway
Earl E. Brown

In a discussion of public highways, what may come to mind are modern interstate asphalt roads for automobiles and trucks. Decades before Pennsylvania built its railroads and canals, the state legislature named the Susquehanna River a public highway. Author Earl E. Brown has spent more than two years researching one particular exported product - flour - and charted its route from the rich Piedmont farmlands of Pennsylvania to flour mills and to the ports of Philadelphia and Baltimore. Pennsylvania flour, due to its relatively low moisture content, proved superior to European wheat, as it was able better resist to mold and fermentation on long ocean voyages. Today, people may not think of the Susquehanna River as a major shipping lane, but Durham boats, canoes, and arc boats filled the river with busy commerce all the way from New York State down through south central Pennsylvania to Havre de Grace, Maryland. After one enterprising Huntingdon County family built an arc capable of carrying 255 barrels of flour, and navigated the lower Susquehanna River safely through river rapids and charted through dangerous rocks, exporters filled the river with more than one thousand arcs per day. Readers will learn why arc boat owners did not have to haul their boats back up river; why Pennsylvania outlawed improvements in the Susquehanna; what was done to try to reroute trade from Baltimore to Philadelphia; and why river commerce came to an end.

An Interview with Richard C. Saylor: The Impact of the Civil War Legacy in Pennsylvania
Ted R. Walke

One of the most anticipated books in years published by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Soldiers to Governors: Pennsylvania’s Civil War Veterans Who Became State Leaders, will be released this winter. As the United States approaches the sesquicentennial of its Civil War, interest in the war continues to fascinate scholars, students, and the general public. Six of Pennsylvania's governors were veterans of that great war and few institutions offer more insight into the lives of those state leaders than within the walls of The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Archives. So extensive are the holdings that what began as a chapter in a book, turned into a separate book detailing the vast inventory of American Civil War collections held by PHMC. Ted R. Walke, chief of PHMC Publications and Sales Division, interviewed the book’s author, Richard C. Saylor, who is among the most knowledgeable regarding PHMC museum artifacts and archives documents. Saylor discusses his longtime interest in the Civil War, the importance of Civil War history, and the stories behind six governors who all put their lives on the line in defense of the Union. From personal letters, historic events, and colorfully illustrated examples from the collections, Saylor successfully probes the humanity within each former governor and their heroic experiences in battle, in service to their country, and their dedication to Pennsylvania.

Hands-On History: A New Way of Learning How to Preserve the Past
Barry A. Loveland

Preserving and restoring historic buildings requires a specialized skill, but few places in the country offer training in historic preservation. Fortunately for Pennsylvania, as Barry Loveland, PHMC chief of the Division of Architecture and Preservation, reports, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, which has educated students in the building trades for more than a century, has collaborated with several nonprofit organizations, including the PHMC, to establish a Preservation Trades Technology Program. The program emphasizes hands-on workshop courses through which the first class has already graduated.

Our Documentary Heritage
Willis L. Shirk Jr.

As archivist Willis L. Shirk Jr. of the Pennsylvania State Archives, notes, historic records and documents are sometimes literally rescued from trash bins. This was the case when Westinghouse Electric discarded photographs related to the Shippingport Atomic Power Station. Processed under Manuscript Group 508, these photographs chronicle the nation's first commercial nuclear power generating plant, including its construction, installation of the reactor, technical diagrams, and images of scale cutaway models. Entrusted to the PHMC for custody, the photographs and documents establish a permanent historical record of the country's more successful nuclear facilities.

Pennsylvania Heritage Society Newsletter

The PHS newsletter brings the latest news to members of the society - a quarterly calendar of special events, exhibits, tours, and events at PHMC sites throughout Pennsylvania. News of the annual Holiday Marketplace, the Teaching American History project, and a farewell to Kelly VanSickle are highlighted.

PHMC Highlights

Go behind the scenes at PHMC to see a sampling of the many events and individual achievements of PHMC and its highly professional staff. This edition features American, Allied, and German reenactors at the Pennsylvania Military Museum; folk songs from the anthracite coal fields at the Anthracite Heritage Museum; and the fiftieth anniversary concert for the Ephrata Cloister Chorus. Also noted are colonial cooking, sheep shearing, weaving, laundering, and children's games at Washington Crossing Historic Park; and the portrayal of Lady Anne Keith, mistress of the Keith House, at Graeme Park.


In this edition Editor Michael J. O'Malley III brings news of three books with his insightful, intelligent reviews - the realignment of politics in Pennsylvania since 1960, a biography of statesman Milton S. Eisenhower, and Pittsburgh's role in the blossoming of the film industry through its early nickelodeons.

Lost and Found

News of historic landmarks and structures - one lost forever and one saved - is featured. In this edition, read about the Middle Creek Hydroelectric Dam, formerly near Selingsgrove, Snyder County, as being lost, while the saved site is the Chester Waterside Station of the Philadelphia Electric Company in Philadelphia, converted to office space after a $54.5 million dollar project.

Marking Time: 1st Drive-In Filling Station

Pennsylvania has pioneered many firsts. Among them is Pittsburgh's legitimate claim as the location of the first drive-in gasoline filling station. Readers will learn why Pittsburgh has a right to this designation as well as the story behind the related state historical marker installed in 2000. A rare vintage photograph of the original structure is included.

Sharing the Common Wealth

Lancaster County native George Frick founded the Frick Company in Waynesboro, Franklin County, in 1860. A manufacturer of agricultural machinery, threshers and traction engines, boilers, ice machines, and sawmills, one of the company's most notable products was the Frick Improved Portable Steam Engine. From 1923, farmers began to take advantage of wood and coal energy rather than more primitive animal and muscle power. The Somerset Historical Center has an actual Frick steam engine on display that was used in Somerset County and appropriately highlights the final curtain on a series of exhibits, themes, and feature stories on the year-long 2009 PHMC theme, "Energy: Innovation and Impact."

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