As the second state to join the union, Pennsylvania is home to many iconic events that changed the course of American history. Both novice explorers and history buffs can step back in time and experience some of the moments that made the United States what it is today.
Independence Hall - Philadelphia and the Countryside
Discover the site where two of democracy’s greatest documents were written and the second continental congress was held. Noted as one of the most famous buildings in the world, visitors can view the Assembly room where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were drafted and signed to explore the origins of American democracy.
Gettysburg National Military Park - Dutch Country Roads
Recognized as one of the most famous American battlefields, Gettysburg marked the turning point of the Civil War and the site where President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address. Visitors can stand where history was made at the Museum and Visitor Center, the battlefields, Soldier’s National Cemetery and the David Wills House, where President Lincoln put the finishing touches on the Gettysburg Address.
Erie Maritime Museum - Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes Region
Beginning with the War of 1812 and continuing through present day, the Erie Maritime Museum highlights Erie’s role in the Great Lakes history. The focus of the museum is the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813. Other exhibits include the USS Michigan/Wolverine, the Navy’s first iron-hulled ship; three lighthouses; fishing; and other maritime industries.
Liberty Bell - Philadelphia and the Countryside
In the early days of the United States, the ringing of the Liberty Bell signaled the start of many important events such as the meeting of the First Continental Congress. Originally cast in London, the bell traveled around the United States after the Civil War symbolizing unity. After a large crack appeared in the Bell it was no longer used for such events, but has transformed into an iconic symbol of freedom and is on display at the Liberty Bell Center near Independence Hall.
Fort Ligonier - Laurel Highlands
During the eight years it was an active garrison, Fort Ligonier served as a vital link in the British communication and supply lines during Pontiac’s War of 1763. Never taken by an enemy, eight acres of the original site have been preserved for visitors to explore including the fort, General Forbes’ hut, the Pennsylvania hospital, a smokehouse, a saw mill, bake ovens, a log dwelling and a forge.
Johnstown Flood Museum - The Alleghenies
On May 31, 1889 the combination of a horrific storm and unstable dam produced a massive flood that took the lives of more than 2,000 Johnstown residents. The Johnstown Flood museum captures the history surrounding the tragic natural disaster. Exhibits at the museum describe the timeline of the flood and include an interactive map showing the path of the storm, artifacts found after the flood, relief efforts, media representation of the flood and stories of the town’s recovery.
Valley Forge National Historic Park - Philadelphia and the Countryside
Following a fierce battle over Philadelphia in 1777, General George Washington needed a place for his troops to camp during the winter and chose Valley Forge. Preserving this historic site, Valley Forge National Historic Park contains a visitors center, historic buildings including Washington’s headquarters, Washington Memorial Chapel and replicate cabins, along with cannons, an artillery park and monuments.
Flight 93 National Memorial - Laurel Highlands
One of the most recent memorials erected in Pennsylvania honors the passengers and crew aboard Flight 93, the third plane that went down during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The memorial captures the heroic actions of the flight and crew through dedicated areas like the Tower of Voices which has 40 wind chimes as a tribute to the last sounds before the plane went down, memorial groves, ponds, Field of Honor and a memorial plaza.
The Duquesne Incline - Pittsburgh and its Countryside
One of the few remaining inclines in the country, the Duquesne Incline opened in 1877 as a means of transportation to the city for the expanding residential area atop Mount Washington. After many years of use and deterioration, a group of local residents rescued and restored the incline in 1963, and residents and visitors still ride its original wooden cable cars today to see a spectacular view of the city. The Duquesne Incline's upper station houses a museum of Pittsburgh history, including photos and a storehouse of information on inclines from around the world.
Washington Crossing - Philadelphia and the Countryside
This historic park commemorates the site where General George Washington courageously crossed the Delaware River to win a major victory toward America's independence during the American Revolution. Complete with annual reenactments, Durham boats like the ones used in the 1776 crossing and 13 historic buildings, the park honors a notorious moment of the country’s history.