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Westminster College students tour 19th century historical sites

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Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2018

NEW WILMINGTON, PA – Westminster College students got an up-close look at Pennsylvania history when they traveled to two key 19th century sites important to the state’s past.

On Saturday, Nov. 3, students David Peffer, Chris Bezek, Chessa Caylor, Michaela Marini, Brett Bartholomew and Derek Bakewell traveled with Dr. Timothy Cuff, professor of history, to Summit, Pa., to visit the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Park Service site.

A key link in the 1830s Pennsylvania Mainline, the Portage Railroad features a system of canals and railroads that created a rapid way to traverse the state, cutting Philadelphia to Pittsburgh travel time from over three weeks to just over five days.

Students toured the site in order to learn about the stationary steam engine which powered the railroad, the Lemon House which offered hospitality to travelers, and the ways in which the mainline changed life for people across the state and country.

A second stop was the Johnstown Flood National Memorial, another National Park Service site, which commemorates the 1889 collapse of the South Fork Dam and subsequent destruction of the town of Johnstown, Pa. The flood claimed the lives of 2,209 people.

“I think it is very important to know how and what made Pennsylvania the way it is today,” said one student. “The overall experience definitely helped us gain a better understanding of Pennsylvanians history.”