Drake Well printing plates: Here’s what early oil producers used for money

Drake Well printing plates: Here’s what early oil producers used for money

Charles Vernon Culver came to the burgeoning Pennsylvania oil fields in 1861 and started the Venango Bank in Franklin, Venango County. At the time, oil producers were in desperate need for banking services, locally, and in eastern cities. In December 1863, Culver and other investors started a bank in Philadelphia and another in New York …

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The Pennsylvania Turnpike: The journey of the Irwin interchange tollbooth

The Pennsylvania Turnpike: The journey of the Irwin interchange tollbooth

From 1940 until the early 1980s, this tollbooth stood at the Irwin interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, America’s first superhighway. When the first section of the turnpike opened to traffic Oct. 1, 1940, the town of Irwin, some 30 miles east of Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County, served as its western terminus. Hundreds of curiosity seekers …

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Rare portrait peers into William Penn’s younger years

Rare portrait peers into William Penn’s younger years

This portrait is one of only two definitive images known to exist of William Penn that were created from life. A copy of a lost original, William Penn in Armor depicts the founder of the Pennsylvania Colony as a young man being groomed for the life of a noble at a time when he was …

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Preventing polio: A grateful nation honors Dr. Jonas Salk

Preventing polio: A grateful nation honors Dr. Jonas Salk

For many children in the 1940s and 1950s, the polio disease was an ever-present fear. Prior to the 1950s, the main option for treatment was an iron lung, a machine that used negative air pressure to mimic natural breathing. The iron lung compensated for paralyzed respiratory muscles damaged by the poliovirus. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who …

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What this embroidered shawl reveals about Victorian-era romance

What this embroidered shawl reveals about Victorian-era romance

This story of Amanda Degall and Matthew Rodgers is a fitting one for Valentine’s Day. In 1835, Amanda Degall (1819-1899) embroidered the lines: “And when those hands / that marked these lines / in death’s cold grasp shall be / by all you love in Earth or Heaven / Will you remember me?” It was …

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The collapse of the “People’s Bridge” marks 20th anniversary

The collapse of the “People’s Bridge” marks 20th anniversary

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the partial collapse of the western section of Harrisburg’s Walnut Street Bridge. In mid-January 1996, Pennsylvania was still recovering from the devastation wrought by that year’s North American Blizzard when the temperature began to rise. Rainfall, coupled with the increasing warmth, caused the Susquehanna River to swell. On …

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Print highlights pivotal maneuver at the Battle of Lake Erie

Print highlights pivotal maneuver at the Battle of Lake Erie

This circa 1815 print entitled, Perry’s Battle on Lake Erie, depicts the most pivotal maneuver of the Battle of Lake Erie, illustrating the moment when Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry transferred his men from the heavily-damaged USS Lawrence to the U.S. Brig Niagara. Aboard the Niagara, Perry ordered an attack that broke the British line and …

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Popular period pattern turns up inside historic waffle iron

Popular period pattern turns up inside historic waffle iron

This week’s Pennsylvania Treasure, as selected by CAP Curator Diana Zeltmann, is a mid-19th century waffle iron. This artifact appears in the recently opened Pennsylvania Icons exhibit at The State Museum. This waffle iron was manufactured by Abbott & Lawrence of Philadelphia, Pa., which launched Liberty Stove Works in 1851. The company’s factory was located …

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WGAL superstar makes broadcast history with “Percy Platypus and His Friends”

WGAL superstar makes broadcast history with “Percy Platypus and His Friends”

  In the late 1990s, Jim Freed donated to The State Museum the original Percy Platypus and Wikilou Wombat puppets from the popular children’s program, “Percy Platypus and His Friends.” To celebrate, Freed and Marijane Landis performed a re-creation of an original “Percy Platypus and His Friends” episode at the museum. A recording of that …

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Border dispute paves way for the Mason-Dixon Line

Border dispute paves way for the Mason-Dixon Line

Originally 5 feet tall and weighing roughly 600 hundred pounds, this stone was cut from a limestone quarry in Portland, England. The stone, and others like it, were shipped to the American colonies and installed every five miles along what is now known as the Mason-Dixon Line. Each stone was inscribed with the Penn family crest …

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