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Canals, Railroads, Philadelphia, and the Struggle for Internal Improvement in the Cumberland Valley, 1825-1837

In April 1825, the Pennsylvania General Assembly authorized the construction of the "Public Works," a state-built system of canals and railroads designed to provide improved transportation throughout the Commonwealth.  The most vital portion of the Public Works was the "Main Line," a 395-mile long series of canals and railroads built to link the state's largest city, Philadelphia, with the important western city of Pittsburgh.

The Capitol and the College: The Latrobe Connection

In 1793 President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol. This event initiated the construction of a building which the statesmen and political leaders of the day hoped would be a grand monument to the democratic ideals of the young nation. To the extent that this first national government building in the Capital City achieved its lofty objective was due to the creativity and vision of Benjamin Latrobe. He served as architect of the United States Capitol from 1803 to 1813 and again from 1815 to 1817.

Captain William E. Miller: A Worthy Citizen and a Gallant Soldier

The final line of the entry about Captain William E. Miller, in the 1905 Biographical Annals of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, ends with "Such is the record of Capt. William E. Miller, a worthy citizen and a gallant soldier." The biographer begins by telling us Captain Miller is "one of the best known and most highly esteemed citizens of Carlisle."

Captain William Hendricks and the March to Quebec (1775)

It was a time for great rejoicing that first week of Fall 1776. In the capital on the Delaware the good people of Philadelphia, still exhilarated from the wine of national independence first sipped only two months before were sampling another heavy draught—life under a new and radically democratic State government which had just replaced an oft times unpopular proprietorship. One in congruous event diluted the pure air of celebration.

Carlisle Barracks-1854-1855: From the Letters of Lt. Thomas W. Sweeny, 2nd Infantry

In July 1855, six companies from the 2nd Infantry rook possession of an old fur trading post on the banks of the Upper Missouri River and transformed it into a base of operations against the Sioux. But before setting out on this assignment, the officers and men of this regiment spent almost a year and a half at Carlisle Barracks filling their ranks, drilling, and preparing for service on the prairie. Among the officers in this contingent was 34-year-old Lieutenant Thomas William Sweeny.

The Carlisle Deluge, 1779

On the night of August 19, 1779, there occurred on the south side of the North Mountain about ten miles northwest of Carlisle a geological phenomenon that eventually drew the attention of the astronomer David Rittenhouse, Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the Secretary of War, and the president of Harvard College, and was described both in private letters among these and other men and also in the published proceedings of the second oldest learned society in the United States.

The Carlisle Deluge, 1779, Revisited

We report here that evidence for the 1779 Carlisle Deluge still exists. In the Summer, 1996 issue of Cumberland County History, Whitfield J. Bell described what he called the Carlisle Deluge. Bell used primary sources, mainly a letter from David Rittenhouse to Benjamin Franklin, to describe how, on the night of August 19, 1779, a thunderstorm with copious rain opened a gash on the south side of North (Blue) Mountain east of Flat Rock and northwest of the present Bloserville. Rocks and trees were carried down the mountain.

Charles Francis Himes (1838-1918): Portrait of a Photographer

The life of Charles Francis Himes, professor of physics at Dickinson College from 1865 to 1896, was one of many and varied pursuits. He was a scientist, an educator, and a historian; and with each of these roles his interest and achievements in photography were integrated. In the late twentieth century photography is taken granted. Anyone nowadays can buy a camera and take a picture, regardless of knowledge or skill; development and printing are done commercially; and photographs are used in every discipline.