Author: Samuel Gabel, Public Affairs Section Assistant
Nickname: The Keystone State
Motto: “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence”
Whether you are interested in unique cultures, the outdoors, or history, Pennsylvania has something worth your while.
For those who are fascinated by different cultures, Lancaster County Pennsylvania is home to the Amish, one of the most interesting cultural groups in America. Instead of using English as their primary language, they speak a dialect of German. Because of their religious beliefs, they live in a traditional manner, wearing old-fashioned clothing and typically avoiding the use of electricity and cars. Horse-drawn buggies are a common sight in Lancaster and surrounding counties.
For those who love nature, Pennsylvania boasts beautiful woodlands, hills, and mountains. In autumn, it seems as if much of the state has caught fire as the trees turn from green to splendid fiery hues. Allegheny National Forest, in northwestern Pennsylvania, offers trails where one can see beautiful waterfalls and wildlife.
For the history enthusiast, Pennsylvania is an especially rich place. It was here, thanks to the efforts of William Penn, (founder of Pennsylvania) that America first started experimenting with its now highly-prized ideal of religious freedom. It was also here, during the French and Indian War, that George Washington first got his military experience which would later aid him in liberating America from British rule. However, Washington certainly wasn’t the only Founding Father with ties to Pennsylvania. The state was home to the famous inventor, writer, diplomat and Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin.
Of course, the state’s greatest claim to historical fame is the fact that in Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, and later the United States Constitution. The hall and the very room where the course of history turned can still be visited today.
Pennsylvania’s significant role in American history didn’t end with the Founding Fathers. The bloodiest, and arguably the most decisive, battle of the American Civil War was fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Today, the place where rifles crackled, cannons roared, and the tide of the war turned in favor of the North is a quiet national park with a museum and monuments commemorating the brave men who fought and died in the battle. However, once a year, on the anniversary of the battle, the stillness is broken, and an army of re-enactors dressed in historical uniforms and carrying replica period firearms descends on the place to share their love for history and to commemorate the terrible struggle. The list of important historical events and places in Pennsylvania goes on, but we’ll leave it at that for now.
The list of interesting people and places in Pennsylvania goes on as well, but I think, based on the sampling we’ve covered, one can safely draw the conclusion that Pennsylvania is a true keystone of Americana.