Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

Category: Heritage Tourism (Page 1 of 6)

Celebrating the Blairsville Area Underground Railroad

This week’s 2022 Community Initiative Award winner spotlight is on the Blairsville Underground Railroad organization in Blairsville, Indiana County.

Blairsville was laid out in the early 19th century along the Conemaugh River at the southern end of Indiana County, about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh along the planned route of the Huntingdon, Cambria, and Indiana Turnpike. Blairsville’s history and growth is closely tied to its transportation corridors – the river, the stagecoach in 1818, the canal in 1829, and the rail in 1851 – and natural deposits of salt, coal, and iron, which together supported a thriving and flourishing community.

What many may not know about Blairsville is its African American history, particularly related to abolition and the Underground Railroad (UGRR). The borough had one of the larger Black communities in Indiana County and the county’s first African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church was organized there in 1844. Indiana County was an important and active Underground Railroad stop in Pennsylvania as freedom seekers escaped from their enslavers in search of freedom.

I asked Denise Doyle from the Blairsville Underground Railroad organization to share their story with us.

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O’er the Bridge We Go!

For many, the holidays are filled with stories and traditions of the past.  Just hearing the song Jingle Bells makes me wonder what it would feel like to go dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. Or better yet, to ride a sleigh over a historic metal truss bridge.  Oh, what fun that would be!

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Exploring African American Heritage in Pennsylvania’s DCNR Parks and Forests

Pennsylvania is rife in human history – if you’re in Pennsylvania, consider yourself surrounded with nearly 20,000 years of it! So, it should come as no great surprise that its 121-state park and over 2 million-acre forest system, administered by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, are steeped in both natural and human history.

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Just in time for the Holidays, A “new” set of Shutters for the Gemeinhaus

This winter, visitors to Bethlehem – the City in Northampton County, Pennsylvania – may see some new changes in the Historic Moravian Bethlehem National Historic Landmark District.  Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites just completed the restoration of 88 shutters on the 1741 Gemeinhaus, the oldest building in Bethlehem. 

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The 2020 PA SHPO Community Initiative Award Winners

For the past several years, the PA SHPO has used their Community Initiative Award to recognize the hard work and dedication of organizations, municipalities, individuals, and others whose work embodies the spirit of #PreservAtionHappensHere.

The three recipients of the 2020 awards have demonstrated the power of digital engagement and the importance of 21st-century tools and technology to advocate, promote and preserve Pennsylvania’s older and historic places, which has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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