Pennsylvania remains one of the most fascinating states in the USA, and as one of the ‘original 13’, it is a colony with plenty of history behind it. The state is one of the most populated in the country, and it’s home to 67 different counties. The ‘Keystone State’ is known for its rich heritage, and therefore, there is always something new to learn here – even to those who call the state home! Here are more than a few interesting facts about Pennsylvania to help clue you in on a bit of that wild and wonderful history.
Pennsylvania was founded by Sir William Penn, a Quaker who formed the colony as a peaceful retreat focusing on free religious practice. In fact, Penn just wanted the state to be called Sylvania – but the Penn was added in honour of his father, an admiral by the same name.
Pennsylvania is the only original colony which doesn’t border the Atlantic. It’s known as one of the middle states, though it’s not landlocked.
People have been settling in Pennsylvania since 1643, and many see it as the heart of the US, and possibly even the launchpad for the modern American settlement.
Pennsylvania was home to the launch of some of the most important decrees and documents in US history. For example, Abraham Lincoln cemented the Gettysburg Address here, and it’s also where the first US Constitution was written.
The motto of Pennsylvania is ‘Virtue, Liberty and Independence’. It’s known as the Keystone State because it is, geographically, the midpoint of the 13 original colonies. When you look at a map of the US, this is clear to see – there are six original colonies to its north, and six original colonies to its south.
State flag of Pennsylvania
There are more haunted houses and supposedly spooky domiciles in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, than any other city in the US. As such, it’s a huge pilgrimage site for ghost hunters.
America’s first zoo and first public library both opened up in Pennsylvania, again, in Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania is thought to be the birthplace of many modern fascinations. Among them, it’s thought that cable TV has origins in the state, and what’s more, it’s said to be the birthplace of the banana split!
Pennsylvania also holds the distinction of being home to the world’s first computer back in 1946. Known as the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, it was first set up for launch at the University of Pennsylvania.
It’s also where America’s first piano was built. Specifically, it was Johann Behrent who built the first US piano here in 1775.
Philadelphia used to be the capital of the US as a whole. However, that changed to the permanent city of Washington DC as you know it today.
Interestingly, another Pennsylvania city has held the title of US capital, too – Lancaster – which only held the title for 24 hours back in 1777!
Pennsylvania holds the US record for the most covered bridges in a state, with around 200 easy enough to spot across the region.
Pennsylvania is also home to a strong Amish community, who live out in the rural reaches and off the land. They are extremely protective of their ways of life, and even request that visitors refrain from bringing cameras. This, they state, is as a result of their reading of the bible.
There is a borough in Pennsylvania which is on fire and has been so since 1962. That’s because the coal mine beneath Centralia is thought to still be burning up to this day. In fact, the area is largely depleted now, with only a few people remaining resident.
Pennsylvania is also home to the oldest stock exchange in the US, with the exchange in question being the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Since its inception, it has been overtaken by NASDAQ.
Pennsylvania is the mushroom capital of the US, producing more of the fungus than any other state. It is thought that white button mushrooms in particular are popularly sourced from Pennsylvania, accounting for around two thirds of all delivered across the states.
You’ll also find that the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh hosts the first T-Rex skeleton found in its entirety.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Pennsylvania that we’ve missed out? Share them here in the comments section below!