Collections from Pennsylvania National Parks

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, this exhibit showcases one object from every national park museum collection in Pennsylvania. We invite you to explore museum collections from Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, Eisenhower National Historic Site, Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Friendship Hill National Historic Site, Gettysburg National Military Park, Hopewell Furnance National Historic Site, Independence National Historical Park, Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Steamtown National Historic Site, Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, and Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Iron chairs were used to anchor rails to a cut stone base along the Allegheny Portage Railroad. Stone blocks called “sleepers” served as the railroad ties on level sections of this early railroad link between sections of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal. Each sleeper had two holes chiseled into them, and the iron chairs were securely anchored to it at roughly three feet intervals. “Bull-head” rail, in 18 foot long sections, would be slid through the center portion of the chair and locked in place with a key placed into the remaining gap.

These iron chairs represent an integral link in the system over which goods and people were transported between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This early railroad, which was designed to cross a mountain chain, was an integral link in the statewide canal system. These systems significantly reduced travel time and made regional trade exponentially more efficient.

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, ALPO 1378

Owasco is the name for the proto-Iroquoian cultures of the upper Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers in Pennsylvania. Archeologists often name earlier cultures after areas in and around archeological sites. Owasco is named after a series of archeological sites near Lake Owasco in central New York state. This vessel was recovered from an archeological site within the Minisink National Historic Landmark in Sussex County, NJ. It dates to the Late Woodland period when the cultures that occupied the floodplain maintained their subsistence through agriculture.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, DEWA 127864

“The Raven” sculpture represents Edgar Allan Poe’s best known poem of the same name. Poe crafted this poem in 1845 while he lived at the Philadelphia, PA site that is now a national park.

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, EDAL (INDE) 104225

President Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoyed several hobbies including oil painting. He completed almost 300 paintings in the last 20 years of his life and gave nearly all of them away as gifts. This painting is his only known work to depict his Gettysburg home. Soon after completing it, he invited Arthur Kennell, his golf caddy at the Gettysburg Country Club, over for a visit. At the end of their visit, the president gave Mr. Kennell this painting—most appropriate since it includes the president’s personal golf putting green. Mr. Kennell proudly displayed the painting in his home for the rest of his life. After his passing in 2013, his widow donated it to the park.

This object represents the Eisenhower National Historic Site museum collection for several reasons. It depicts the Eisenhower Home, the crown jewel of the park and the only home ever owned by President and Mrs. Eisenhower. It was painted by President Eisenhower himself and is doubly significant since it is his only known work to depict the home. President Eisenhower is famous as a US President that liked to play golf and this painting depicts his personal putting green. Finally, as a documented gift to his caddy, it has a nice story to tell.

Eisenhower National Historic Site, EISE 16512

Since the early 1800s, historians have pondered on the shape of George Washington's Fort Necessity. Since the French destroyed the stockade and supply cabin the day after the battle, only the breastworks remained, and these eroded over the years to low earthen mounds, and the exact shape of the fort was uncertain. Early interpretations of the fort resulted in a 1932 reconstruction of the fort as a square, and became the prime destination for visitors. Not all agreed in the square shape, and Jean Harrington, an archaeologist, thought further investigation was necessary. Finding a new primary account describing a circular stockade, Harrington was able to conduct a thorough archaeological excavation proving that the fort was triangular. His work stands as a watershed moment in historical archaeology and set the standard for future investigations. The stockade posts are silent witnesses to a dreadful beginning of George Washington's military career and a crowning achievement of a curious archaeologist.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield, FONE 75

Swiss émigré Albert Gallatin sought a new life in America. Arriving in 1780 he set out for the west as land was cheap for those willing to work for it. By 1790 Gallatin had established himself along the Monongahela River south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His home, called Friendship Hill, became a working experiment in farming and domestic life. His partners thought farming dull and encouraged Gallatin to expand his field of business. In time, Gallatin’s nearby village of New Geneva included a general store, sawmill, boatyard, distillery, gun factory, and glassworks. Of these enterprises, the glassworks was the most interesting, profitable and at times the most frustrating. Gallatin and his partners convinced five German glassblowers to stay and work at New Geneva. They produced the first glass made west of the Allegheny Mountains in 1797. Prime utilitarian products included whiskey bottles and window glass with occasional specialty pieces like this cream pitcher. Gallatin hoped to live in retirement at Friendship Hill off the returns of the glassworks, but this was not to be. But while he ended up leaving Friendship Hill never to return, Albert Gallatin went on to succeed as a statesman, public servant, entrepreneur, and scholar. The cream pitcher reminds us of one individual’s dream while carving out a life in a young American Republic. Although the glassworks ultimately failed, the cream pitcher endures as a symbol of Gallatin’s resiliency and perseverance.

Friendship Hill National Historic Site, FRHI 139

The largest painting on the North American continent, this is by far the largest single museum object in the museum collections of Gettysburg National Military Park. Painted by French artist Paul Philippoteaux and a team of artists based on accounts from veterans of the battle, this is an iconic representation of the action at the center of the Union line as the 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac successfully repulsed the attack by troops of the Army of Northern Virginia commanded by General James Longstreet on the afternoon of July 3, 1863. Popularly known as Pickett’s Charge, the assault was the climax of the battle of Gettysburg and would be seen by later generations as a critical moment in the progress of the conflict. The painting, one of four Gettysburg panoramas completed by the artist, first debuted in Boston in 1885. It is the only one still complete in existence. This image shows the portion of the painting depicting the primary battle action.

Gettysburg National Military Park, GETT 7

This nineteenth century cast iron stove features a kettle opening and a lid. Stoves supported the daily lives of early Americans by providing ways to cook and warm the home. The iron industry prospered at places like Hopewell Furnace, Pennsylvania, where laborers manufactured these stoves through the process of sand molding and casting.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, HOFU 6469

This final draft of America’s founding document includes a handwritten correction attributed to Constitutional Convention President George Washington. The Constitution was written in Independence Hall, now a national park and a World Heritage Site.

Independence National Historical Park, INDE 4847

This pocket watch, commonly worn ca 1880s, captures the very moment when the waters of the South Fork Dam struck Johnstown on May 31, 1889. While there is some debate about what time the South Fork Dam failed, this pocket watch provides a definitive clue about what time the flood struck Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 4:10 pm. This pocket watch is, quite literally, a frozen-in-time relic of the Johnstown Flood.

Johnstown Flood National Memorial, JOFL 8678

This four-piece Tiffany and Company tea set was presented to Watts Cooke, Superintendent of Motive Power for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&W) Railroad, by his employees on Christmas of 1866. It is embossed, “Presented to Watts Cooke/Superintendent of the Rolling Stock by the employees of the Delaware & Lackawanna R.R. Co./Christmas of 1866/City of Scranton, Pa.” Watts Cooke, son of an Irish immigrant, was instrumental in the development of coal burning steam locomotives. Not only did he oversee the conversion of wood burning locomotives to coal burning for the DL&W, he began his own business manufacturing steam locomotives in the Scranton area. His company was bought out by Thomas Dickson, and became the foundation for the Dickson Locomotive Works. His brother, John Cooke, founded the Cooke Locomotive Works in Paterson, New Jersey.

This set not only represents the early history of the development of steam locomotives, it also represents the development of Scranton, Pennsylvania as part of a vibrant industrial area. Scranton was incorporated in 1866, the same year the tea set was presented. The railroad yard Watts Cooke worked operated for over a century and a half and was ultimately made part of Steamtown National Historic Site. This set was handed down by the Cooke family over the years and was bequeathed to the National Park Service in 2013.

Steamtown National Historic Site, STEA 8140

Following his military service to General George Washington’s army during the American Revolution, Thaddeus Kosciusko returned to his native Poland and led that country’s own revolution. A national hero to both America and Poland, Kosciuszko returned to Philadelphia, PA in the 1790s and resided at the site that is now a national park.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, INDE 15792

Fishing on the Delaware River has provided sustenance and recreation for residents and visitors for thousands of years. As the last major river on the Atlantic Coast that is undammed for the length of its mainstem, the wild and scenic, largely ecologically intact, and free-flowing conditions of the Upper Delaware River support superb water quality and natural habitats that provide clean drinking water for millions of east coast residents and ideal fishing conditions for trout, bass, and shad.

This fly fishing rod is purported to have belonged to famed fisherman and author, Zane Grey, who began visiting the Upper Delaware River in the early 1900s before buying a home in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania alongside the Delaware River. Zane’s first published article, “A Day on the Delaware”, was published in the May, 1902 edition of Recreation magazine, in it he describes his day out fishing “after big game”. Basic steel rods such as this were mass produced and very common. The cork handle could be reversed to be used both as a fly rod and also with a bait casting style reel. The rod breaks into four pieces for easy transport. An accomplished fisherman, Zane was able to afford many different types of rods and reels for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. He was often sent new products to test for marketing purposes, so his collection was large and very diverse. This rod was left behind at his home in Lackawaxen when he and his family moved to California in 1918, where movies based on his now famous novels were being filmed. His house in Lackawaxen is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public as the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Visitor Center at the Zane Grey House.

Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, UPDE 1161

Jabez Rockwell joined the 8th Connecticut Regiment early in our County's fight for independence. One of the items carried by riflemen was a powderhorn, which carried that all important ingredient of war, black powder. Somewhere during the campaign, before entering the encampment at Valley Forge, Private Rockwell lost his powderhorn. During the encampment, as cattle were slaughtered for food, their horns were saved by the Quartermaster Department and eventually “lotteried”� off to the soldiery. Rockwell won a horn from one of the lotteries and inscribed the following:

Jabez Rockwell
Ridgebury, Conn. His Horn
Camp at Valley Forge, first used at
Monmouth, June 28, 1778
Last at Yorktown, 1781

This unique American powder horn, with verified provenience, is a true artifact of the historic Valley Forge Encampment of 1777-1778. The horn maintains an honored place within the historic collections of Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Valley Forge National Historical Park, VAFO 3472

Credits: Story

Park museum staff from: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, Eisenhower National Historic Site, Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Friendship Hill National Historic Site, Gettysburg National Military Park, Hopewell Furnance National Historic Site, Independence National Historical Park, Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Steamtown National Historic Site, Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, and Valley Forge National Historical Park.

National Park Service, Museum Management Program Staff: Amber Dumler, Stephen Damm, Ron Wilson, and Joan Bacharach

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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