New Pennsylvania Tourism Guide Highlights Civil-War Era Attractions in Appalachian Region

HARRISBURG – In observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office and the Appalachian Regional Commission  introduced a unique new tourism tool, the “Civil War: The Home Front” guide.

The guide showcases 20 Civil War-era heritage attractions in the region that are easily accessible to most Pennsylvanians and perfect for a family road trip.

“The new ‘Home Front’ guide will increase tourism by highlighting 150 historic sites in the region. Going beyond battles and military history, the guide explores how non-battlefield sites on the home front were affected by the war,” said acting Deputy Secretary for Tourism and Film Rose Mape.

An event celebrating the guide’s launch was held today in Altoona, where representatives from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania arrived by train to re-enact the journey undertaken in 1862 by the governors of those states. That year, governors from the Northern states convened in Altoona – a transportation hub – for a historic conference that would help set the course of the Civil War, discussing topics that included the Union’s war effort and their support for the Emancipation Proclamation.  

“Pennsylvania’s unmatched Civil War history helps attract visitors that are looking for travel experiences that are both enjoyable and educational,” said Mape. “This historical guide is perfect for families looking to stay close to home this year while enjoying a fun, family-friendly road trip.”

Mape noted that many Pennsylvania residents – including those who live in or around Harrisburg, Altoona, Johnstown or Pittsburgh – can easily access “clusters” of related Civil War sites within a short drive from home.

History buffs in Altoona, for instance, are within a 55-mile drive of six historical sites highlighted by the guide:

  • Horseshoe Curve, an engineering marvel opened by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1854;
  • Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, the country’s only interactive railroaders museum;
  • Knox Cabin in Clearfield County, an authentically furnished 1860s log cabin that was the site of a historic Civil War shootout;
  • Allegheny Portage Railroad in Gallitzin, the first rail crossing of the Allegheny Mountains that includes America’s first railroad tunnel;
  • Old Bedford Village in Bedford,  where visitors can experience Civil War re-enactments as well as step back in time to the 18th century through 36 period workshops; and
  • Blairsville Underground Railroad Historic Walking Tour, which is dedicated to the lives of brave men and women who, at great risk, aided freedom seekers traveling north through Indiana County.

The guide, created in partnership with American Heritage Publishing and members of ARC’s Tourism Advisory Council, is available as an interactive feature online at www.visitappalachia.com, where additional information specific to each Appalachian state is available to travelers.

Travelers can also find the guide in Pennsylvania Welcome Centers, destination visitors’ centers in participating counties, all collaborating venues and sites and as a free insert in the Spring 2011 issue of “American Heritage” magazine.    

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a unique partnership between the federal government and the 13 Appalachian states created to help the people of Appalachia reach socio-economic parity with the rest of the nation. The region, as defined by Congress, includes more than 24 million people in 420 counties spread across parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and all of West Virginia.

More information about ARC and the Appalachian Region is available at www.arc.gov.

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