Spring 2009

Volume XXXV, Number 2


A Letter From the Governor
Edward G. Rendell

The governor writes to our readers to reiterate Pennsylvania's historic key role in fueling the growth of industry. He explains how the Commonwealth is leading the nation in investing in renewable energy sources that have already created 3,500 jobs and that the green economy promises to create thousands of new jobs, use energy more efficiently, and make improved changes in our air and climate.

Executive Director's Letter
Barbara Franco

PHMC Executive Director Barbara Franco explains how historic sites, museums, libraries, and archives are preserving the lessons of history and how this relates to the PHMC Energy Trail of History.

From the Editor
Michael J. O'Malley III

Editor Michael J. O'Malley III tells readers how learning about energy - its history, present-day uses, and its future - has never been easier.


Our readers contribute thoughtful and interesting comments and anecdotes about recent articles and features.

Barbara T. Zolli on "A Drop of Oil"
Kenneth C. Wolensky

When discussing crude oil and the oil business, Texas, Okalahoma, or the Middle East may come to mind. However, it all began right here in Pennsylvania in 1859 when Edwin L. Drake successfully drilled the world's first oil well at Titusville. For a time, Pennsylvania reigned supreme in supplying the U.S. with oil and petroleum products. Speculators, investors, chemists, and drillers came to northwest Pennsylvania to find ways to not only get crude oil to the marketplace, but also created the demand in the way of new products. Of great historical interest is the location where Drake first extracted oil from the ground, now one of the historic sites of the PHMC and part of the PHMC Trail of Energy. Drake Well Museum, under the administration of Barbara T. Zolli, offers one of the most important and fascinating retrospections of the early oil industry. Pennsylvania Heritage is fortunate to have available, PHMC historian, author, and lecturer Kenneth C. Wolensky conduct a question and answer interview with Zolli about Drake Well's role in oil history, the man Drake, and the impact of Pennsylvania's petroleum industry into the twentieth century, including the industry's impact on local economies, environment. Loaded with vintage photographs, some by John A. Mather, this article is necessary read for anyone studying the impact of oil on the world.

Pennsylvania History Goes Green
Barry A. Loveland

When Governor Edward G. Rendell issued an executive order in December 2004, the Energy Management and Conservation in Commonwealth Facilities directive, the PHMC, well before 1998, had already made sustainable design a priority in its preservation, renovation, and new construction projects. Barry A. Loveland, the PHMC chief of the Division of Architecture and Preservation, writes about a current issue that directly impacts the ability of museums and historical sites to remain sustainability and carry on its important mission preserving important history. Loveland explains how such things as strategic placing of landscaping, geothermal energy for heating, building materials certified as green, and automated environmental controls for temperature and humidity control located centrally in another city. Loveland also discusses clever ideas from nineteenth-century builders - from porch overhangs to shade the house from the scorching summer sun to locating the baby's room on an inside wall to capture the heat from the fireplace chimney during the winter. You won't want to miss some very important energy-saving tips for today's consumers, as well as a list of websites with excellent resources related to green programs - from solar energy to installing a geothermal, or geoexchange, system. Each Web site has valuable information designed to provide a great depth of knowledge on various, but related, topics.

"Atoms for Peace" in Pennsylvania
Willis L. Shirk Jr.

When the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island (TMI) in Middletown, Dauphin County, occurred in 1979, America's great experiment with nuclear energy came to a grinding halt. Or has it? Today, experts and public opinion are rethinking nuclear energy as a viable option to help solve the country's energy problems. While the accident at TMI was an example of how not to run a nuclear facility, advocates of this energy source point to one of America's most successful nuclear generating plants at Shippingport. Located along the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania, Shippingport was America's first commercial nuclear plant, and, until its scheduled dismantling, the nuclear generating plant successfully completed more than twenty-five years generating electricity. PHMC Archivist Willis L. Shirk Jr., who writes Our Documentary Heritage for each edition of Pennsylvania Heritage magazine, has researched this topic and writes about the history of the former nuclear facility, built as part of President Dwight D Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace program. This fascinating history of the plant, the brilliant minds who conceived it, and the successful collaboration between business and government the plant possible, give a fresh perspective of the nuclear industry. At the same time, Shirk interprets the technical and engineering data so that readers are not overwhelmed with scientific and engineering terminology. The feature is highly illustrated with historic photographs, from the first ground breaking, to installation of the nuclear core, to the dismantling of the facility.

Dan Desmond, Eyewitness to Energy History
Michael F. Smith

While serving in public office, Dan Desmond was regarded Pennsylvania's energy czar. For nearly two decades, he guided Pennsylvania in the growth of renewable energy sources. He served as deputy secretary for energy and technology deployment at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, he has served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Energy Office, chair of the Pennsylvania Energy Resources Center, and more recently in the private sector as president of Peregrine Technology Partners LLC, a firm specializing in the commercialization of resource efficient technologies. If anyone knows something about renewable energy and the future of implementing a greener Pennsylvania, it's Desmond. Recently, Michael F. Smith, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Press and Communications, sat down with the energy guru to talk about the history of energy in Pennsylvania and examine the way government policies can affect the use of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, or perpetuate continued reliance on fossil fuels. Desmond believes that investment in clean technology has the potential to create thousands of jobs within the Commonwealth. Smith and Desmond discuss the historic aspects of coal, oil, and natural gas, while acknowledging historic opportunities to affect change in the traditional reliance on fossil fuels.

Energy-Saving Tips for Today's Consumers

Our Documentary Heritage
Willis L. Shirk Jr.

Archivist Willis L. Shirk Jr. of the Pennsylvania State Archives offers for readers' curiosity, Records of the Department of Internal Affairs in Record Group 14 and documents dating to the early 1930s, the series relating to Annual Reports of Manufactured Gas Companies.

Pennsylvania Heritage Society ® Newsletter

The latest news from PHS - a quarterly calendar of special events, special trips, tours, and exhibits at PHMC sites throughout Pennsylvania.

PHMC Highlights

News from behind-the-scenes at PHMC, including State Archivist David A. Haury's role on President Barack Obama's transition team; the retirement of Dr. Louis M. Waddell; PHMC employee John H. Clark's ongoing fifty years of service to the Commonwealth; the addition of video tours produced by and offered though pabookstore.com; and a standing room only lecture by authors Kenneth C. Wolensky, PHMC historian, and co-author Robert P. Wolensky regarding the fiftieth anniversary of the Knox Mine disaster.


Once again, Editor Michael J. O'Malley's offers his insightful and intelligent book reviews.

Wish You Were Here!

A 1909 nostalgic and colorful penny postcard is reprised, with a colorfully illustrated flashback to the New York Central Railroad Station in Phillipsburg, Centre County.

Marking Time: Nuclear Accident at Three Mile Island

Focusing on the PHMC's and our magazine's Energy: Innovation and Impact theme for 2009, this installment focuses on the state historical marker for the Nuclear Accident at Three Mile Island. Not everything in the development of alternative energy sources have gone smoothly. The real catastrophe was the negative impact on the nuclear power industry in America. This edition details some of the events of what happened on March 28, 1979, that focused world attention on the small community of Middletown, Dauphin County.

Sharing the Common Wealth

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