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Highest Point: Mt. Davis at 3,213 feet above sea level
Lowest Point: Delaware River (Delaware Co.) at sea level

Time Zone: Eastern Time Zone

Geography: Pennsylvania is 310 miles long, 180 miles wide and covers 45,888 square miles. It is almost 38 times larger than Rhode Island, but just 1/12 of Alaska. There are 67 counties in the state.

There are 739,200 acres of lakes, ponds, reservoirs and streams, seaports and three major river systems - the Susquehanna, the Delaware and the Ohio. There are 57,000 bridges in the state because of the great number of water areas. There are 50 natural lakes and 2,500 man-made ones. There are 45,000 miles of rivers and streams.

You are never more than 25 miles from a state park no matter where you are in the State. There are over 8,000,000 acres of green space - more than half of the state.

Population: Back on the first Independence Day, there were only about 300,000 residents in Pennsylvania. Now, (2000) there are nearly 12 million. About 1/3 of the residents live in rural areas.

Climate: Generally, the average summer temperature is about 70 degrees F. and about 30 degrees F. in winter, but this is not truly across the state. There are five temperature zones ranging from south to north. Variations in temperature will depend on which part of the state you are in.

Famous Pennsylvania Residents:
Opera Singer - Marian Anderson, Author - Pearl Buck, U.S. President - James Buchanan, Painter - Mary Cassatt, Entertainer - Bill Cosby, Composer - Stephen Foster, Dancer - Gene Kelly, Anthropologist - Margaret Mead, Actor - Jimmy Stewart, Olympic Athlete - Jim Thorpe, Playwright - August Wilson, Explorer - Robert E. Peary.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

P.O. Box 67000
Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000


Native Americans of the Delaware, Shawnee, Susquehanna and Iroquois tribes lived here before the first Europeans arrived. Henry Hudson, an English Explorer, came along the Delaware River in 1609. In 1643, Johan Printz, the New Sweden governor, began a colony north of the Wilmington Delaware area near Chester. The Dutch took over the settlement in 1655 and then the English claimed it in 1664.

The King of England, Charles II, granted to William Penn a huge tract of land in the Americas in payment of a debt to Penn's father. It was to be called Penn's Woodlands or Pennsylvania. Penn was 37 at the time and set out to establish his own "city of brotherly love" there where the Delaware and the Schuylkill Rivers came together. Penn's Quaker faith helped him with his "Holy Experiment." He wanted guarantees of freedom of conscience, judicial restraint, voting rights, fair taxation, education and more for the residents. It evolved into the "Great Law of Pennsylvania." Later, in 1701, it evolved further into his Charter of Privileges of 1701. Pennsylvania was well on its way to being a stable entity and government. During the 1700's, Pennsylvania attracted many new settlers, all European nationalities and religious faiths of every kind.

Though Penn has dealt well with the Indians initially, the great influx of settlers finally brought conflict into the area. The French, wanting security for their Ohio Valley settlements joined forces with the Indians against the English. The first real battle of the French and Indian War began and ended at "Fort Necessity" on July 3, 1754. By 1758, the British began to win the war with several big victories. Fort Duquesne was captured and rebuilt as Fort Pitt. By 1763, France gave up all claims to North America.

Pennsylvania's stability made it a center for not only the military, but also the economy and the political life of the colonies. The First Continental Congress was in Philadelphia in 1774 and the Second in 1775-76. The Declaration of Independence was drafted and approved on July 4, 1776 - also in Philadelphia. The Articles of Confederation were endorsed in York in 1777. Pennsylvania was the second colony to ratify the new Constitution on Dec. 12, 1787, making them the second state in the new country. The National capital was Philadelphia from 1790 to 1800. During the Revolution, Pennsylvania played an active part. Washington's forces gave Valley Forge its place in history.

During the 1800's, Pennsylvania grew tremendously. A good road system was built, along with canals and bridges. The rapid westward movement was hastened with these improvements. During the Civil War, Pennsylvania was a strong pro-union state. The Pennsylvania Emancipation Act of 1781 guaranteed the end of slavery. The Mason-Dixon Line, which was the southern border of the state in 1769, was the official demarcation point between north and south. The Battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln's later Gettysburg Address again from historical fame to the area.

Once the war was over, Pennsylvania played a large part in the Industrial Revolution with steel mills in the Pittsburgh area producing two-thirds of the national output. A strong economy also provided impetus for a strong labor movement, the effects of which may still be seen today.

How was it named?

Pennsylvania was almost named New Wales, then almost Sylvania, until King Charles II added the "Penn."

The State Capitol

Since the Commonwealth's founding in 1682, the capitals have been located in the cities of Philadelphia, Lancaster and Harrisburg. For 50 years the legislature had no official meeting place. They met wherever they could find a place. The Philadelphia's Independence Hall was used. The Liberty Bell was installed here in 1752 before even the Declaration of Independence was signed here. Needing more room, the House moved from the hall in 1799 to temporary quarters in the Lancaster Courthouse. In 1810, Harrisburg was designated the state capital by the legislature on October of 1812. The building of the capitol building began in April of 1819. It was finally finished on 2 January 1822. Known as the "Redbrick" Capitol, it was designed and built by English-born Stephen Hills. Shortly after the House and Senate met in the building on 2 February 1897, smoke was seen wafting upward. Within an hour the dome had collapsed in flames. A cause was never established, but a fireplace flue was suspect. The new capitol was begun on 5 May 1904. Between 1897 and October 1906 when the Capitol was dedicated, the legislature met at Grace Methodist Church on State Street. The new capitol was designed by Joseph Huston of Philadelphia. This capitol is 520 feet long and 254 feet wide and covers 2 acres of ground. The dome, modeled after St. Peters in Rome and the US Capitol, rises up 272 feet from the ground and weighs 52 million pounds. The grand staircase if impressive. The Rotunda is lit up by nearly 4,000 lights. Guided tours of the Capitol are offered weekdays 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Others times may be scheduled by appointment. Please call for advance reservations: 1-800-TOUR N PA


Pennsylvania was a leader during the Industrial Revolution. The world's first oil well was drilled in Titusville in 1859. Andrew Carnegie established the beginnings of the U.S. Steel Corp. in the state. Though the economy was built on industry, steel mills and oil, later on, it began to diversify so as not to be dependent on heavy industry. Technology began to build also. Both Tourism and Agriculture provide a large portion of the state's economy. Many tourists are drawn to areas such as: Hershey - the Chocolate Town U.S.A.; Reading - the Outlet Capital of the World"; the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the Pocono Mountains and more.

Farmlands grow corn, buckwheat, potatoes, tobacco, oats and other grains. The south-central areas and the northwest have many orchards. Mushrooms are commercially grown in abundance. Indiana, Pennsylvania is known as the "Christmas Tree Capital of the World."


Facts of Interest:

The Lincoln Highway, U.S. Route 30 sparked a country's imagination as the nation's first coast-to-coast highway, running from New York to San Francisco and igniting a wave of automobile tourism in the early 20th century. In Pennsylvania, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor extends just east of Pittsburgh to beyond Gettysburg.

Why the Keystone State?
In a 13-stone arch, the keystone is the top stone - the one that locks the others into place. In such an arch, six stones lay below each side of the keystone. In the original 13 colonies, six states were located northeast of Pennsylvania and six states to the southeast, forming a figurative arch.



Pennsylvania Vital Records
Where to write for vital records in the state. You can choose from the various counties also.


Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
417 Walnut Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Toll Free: 800-225-7224
Main Line: 717-255-3252
Fax: 717-255-3298

Government Links page for Pennsylvania
Great links page for all levels of government in Pennsylvania


Valley Forge National Historic Site
Post Office Box 953
Valley Forge, PA 19482
Phone: 610-783-1077


State Parks & Natural Resources
P.O. Box 8767
400 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17105
Toll-free: 1-800-63-PARKS (637-2757)

Allegheny National Forest
Supervisors Office
222 Liberty St.
Warren, PA 16365
Phone: 814-723-5150


Pennsylvania Museums & Historical Organizations
234 North Third Street, Third Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Phone: 717-909-6905
Fax: 717-909-3996

The Pennsylvania Turnpike
Toll-free: 800-331-3414 (in PA only) for roadway, weather and information
Phone: 717-939-9871 (outside PA) for roadway, weather
Phone: 717-939-9551, ext. 3060 for information


The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 732-6200


A Cultural Guide - A Guide to the Arts and Music, Places To Go, and Things To Do In Pennsylvania and The Big Apple


Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau, Inc

1004 Main St.
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
Toll-free: 800-POCONOS (672-6667)

For more information on this picturesque area of eastern Pennsylvania including maps, tour guides and more. The area includes Stroudsburg and Allentown and the Pocono Mountains.

Pennsylvania Caves & Caverns
RR1, Box 280
Park City, KY 42160


Find the weather for anyplace in the USA


This page was created 10 November 1998

This page was last updated 20 September 2006 at 10:38 pm

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