Did You Know?Here are just a few of the many interesting and historically important facts about Westmoreland County and the great state of Pennsylvania. Thanks to MirComer, Madonam, Chrystal, Heather Robertson, Johnny Wang, Landau-Smith, Barb Burba, Jskraptor, Rebecca Kane, John Snyder, and Lynn for the information.
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Claims to Fame
- Nazareth is the home of Martin guitars. Finger-picking good since 1833.
- In July 1874, Benjamin Franklin founded the Philadelphia Zoo, the first public zoo in the United States.
- Stewartstown hired its first police officer in 1876. He was also the town lamp-lighter.
- When completed in 1882, the Kinzua Railroad Bridge near Mount Jewett was acclaimed the highest and longest railroad viaduct in the entire world, rising 301 feet from the valley floor at its center with a total length of 2100 feet.
- The State College Area High School was the first school in the country to teach drivers education in 1958.
- The first coal festival was held 201 years after the establishment of "Peter’s Camp" on Memorial weekend 1993 in Blossburg.
- Hershey is considered the chocolate capital of the United States.
- Philadelphia is home to the cheesesteak sandwich, water ice, soft pretzels, and TastyKakes.
- The Rockville Bridge in Harrisburg is the longest stone arch bridge in the world.
- Kennett Square is known as the mushroom capital of the world.
- Indiana County is the Christmas tree capital of the world.
- Actor Jimmy Stewart was born and raised in the town of Indiana. Each year at Christmas, the downtown area is decorated in the theme of the film "It's a Wonderful Life".
- Fairmount Park in Philadelphia is the largest city park with over 8,000 acres.
- Pittsburgh has over 300 sets of city-maintained steps. If they were stacked on top of each other, they would reach over 26,000 feet high. They would measure higher than a lot of the Himalayan Mountains.
- The oldest stone railroad bridge in use in Pennsylvania is the Starrucca Viaduct that crosses PA Route 171 north of Lanesboro in Susquehanna County.
- The Shenango River Dam near Sharpsville is a concrete gravity dam with an uncontrolled center spillway. The roadway crossing the top of the dam over the spillway is nearly 68 feet above the stream bed. The dam has a top length of 720 feet with a base width of 66 feet.
- At the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, handmade tiles are still produced in a manner similar to that developed by the potter's founder and builder, Henry Chapman Mercer.
- The Borough of Kane is known as the black cherry capital of the world.
- Ringing Hill in Lower Pottsgrove Township is named after the "ringing rocks" which were known for the unique ringing sound they made when struck by a hammer.
- Punxsutawney citizens are proud to be overshadowed by their town's most famous resident, the world-renowned weather forecasting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. Punxsutawney is billed as the weather capital of the world.
- Philadelphia is the site of the first presidential mansion.
- Betsy Ross made the first American flag in Philadelphia.
- Philadelphia was once the United States capital city.
- The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in 1776.
- Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell.
- In June 1778, a 700-wagon caravan escorted the Liberty Bell on its return to Philadelphia from Allentown along Towamencin's Allentown Road. Nine months earlier, when British troops threatened to capture the city, the bell had been whisked into hiding via the same route.
- Each year on Christmas day the "Crossing of the Delaware" is reenacted at Washington Crossing.
- Pennsylvania is the only original colony not bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
- Bellefonte, a town now with a population of 5,000, was once considered to be Pennsylvania's capital. But Harrisburg was chosen because of easy navigation on the Susquehanna River.
- Antrim Township is located in south-central Pennsylvania with its southern border being a part of the Mason-Dixon line.
- During the Depression, canned goods served as admission to The Star Theater in Mercersburg to help supply the local soup kitchen.
- Penn Township, officially referred to as the Township of Penn, was named after the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn.
Industry & Technology
- In Philadelphia in 1775, Johann Behrent built the first piano in America calling it by the name "Piano Forte."
- The first daily newspaper was published in Philadelphia on September 21, 1784.
- The town of Franklin became a center for worldwide oil production following Colonel Edwin Drake's discovery of oil in nearby Titusville.
- Drake Well Museum in Titusville is on the site where Edwin L. Drake drilled the world's first oil well in 1859 and launched the modern petroleum industry.
- "Doctor, if you don't give me something to help me breathe, I'm going to stop!" came the urgent cry of 16-year old Frederick Gable of Loganville. Vowing not to lose another patient to pneumonia, Dr. George Holtzapple successfully created the first application of oxygen, thus saving his patient's life and winning international fame through his discovery. The year was 1885.
- In 1913, the first automobile service station opened in Pittsburgh.
- The Liberty Tunnel in Pittsburgh opened in 1924. At that time, the 5,700 foot facility was the longest artificially ventilated automobile tunnel in the world.
- George G. Blaisdell founded Zippo Manufacturing of Bradford in late 1932. He started with a simple idea: create a product that answers a real need, design it to work, and guarantee it to last.
- In 1946, Philadelphia became home to the first computer.
- Pennsylvania is the first state of the 50 United States to list their website URL on a license plate.
- KDKA radio in Pittsburgh produced the first commercial radio broadcast.
- Located in the Grape Coast region of Pennsylvania, the city of North East has four thriving wineries and is home to the largest Welch's grape processing plant in the country.
- In 1909, the first baseball stadium was built in Pittsburgh.
- Little League Baseball's first World Series was held in 1946 in Williamsport.
- Bob Hoffman of York is hailed all over the world as the "father of weightlifting". Hoffman started York Barbell Corporation in 1932 and preached the gospel of physical fitness throughout his life as a U.S. Olympic coach, businessman, and philanthropist.
- Pittsburgh is famous for manufacturing steel. Its professional football team is named the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- In Hazleton, there is a law on the books that prohibits a person from sipping a carbonated drink while lecturing students in a school auditorium.