National Pennsylvania Day on July 20 recognizes the second state to join the Union. Once the home of the temporary capital of the United States in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is also known as the Keystone State. While the source of the nickname has been forgotten, the meaning is not lost. Bridge builders know leaving the vital keystone out of their structure would be folly and would lead to collapse.
Pennsylvania played many roles that could be considered keystones. Its vote for independence split between eight delegates. The split played a vital role in deciding to move toward independence and cementing the union of the newly formed country.
Throughout military operations, Pennsylvania provided forces to support the cause. Valley Forge tells the story of leadership and sacrifice of a young, developing army and citizenry.
The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed in Philadelphia during its tenure as the temporary capital. It was geographically centered among the 13 original colonies.
We can eat our way through history, too! To understand Pennsylvania’s flavor profile, we will start in Lancaster County and the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country. German and Swiss immigrants brought with them a wide range of hearty recipes that they incorporated into the fresh ingredients available in Pennsylvania countryside. From pork and sauerkraut, pot pies to scrapple, they filled the tables with the bounty of the land.
Much of more of the sweeter side of Pennsylvania Dutch flavor finds its way into restaurants than the savory does. The whoopie pie, shoofly and funnel cakes are a tourist and fair favorites, but the home-cooked seasoning of chicken corn chowder or stuffed cabbage rolls often cannot be found in a restaurant.
For the best and original Philly Cheesesteak, there is only one place to go. Made with thinly sliced beef rib eye, sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms, melted cheese, on a long, crusty Italian roll. A hot dog vendor, Pat Olivieri, created the cheesesteak in the 1930s. One cab driver caught a whiff and soon Olivieri opened a restaurant. It’s still there with competition across the street, a 24-hour a day rivalry for tourists and cheesesteak lovers to choose along with several others in the area.
Head on over to Hershey to pick up all variety of chocolate and adventure. Don’t stop there! Pennsylvania’s sweet tooth has deep roots. From Twizzlers to Peeps, confectioners love Pennsylvania. Candy isn’t the only sweet treat on the menu, though. In 1904, the banana split was invented in Latrobe, PA.
If your preference is more on the salty side, Pennsylvania has that covered, too. They’ve mastered soft and hard pretzels and have a terrific competition between four regional potato chip brands.
Full of regional festivals and local cuisine, Pennsylvania is also home of Kennett Square, Mushroom Capital of the United States. Every year, they shut down the town square for a mushroom festival. Their mushrooms make it into dishes around the world, even into your very own.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL PENNSYLVANIA DAY
Join National Day Calendar as we celebrate National Pennsylvania Day by exploring the iconic, historic and hidden treasures of this enchanting and complex state. Use #NationalPennsylvainaDay to share your experiences on social media.
Daniel Boone – Frontiersman – (November 2, 1734 – September 26, 1820)
The real-life legend that is Daniel Boone began in Pennsylvania on the Boone homestead in what is now Birdsboro. Today, the homestead is host to historical tours, demonstrations and activities providing a look into young Daniel Boone’s life. Born to Squire and Sarah (Morgan) Boone, he was the fourth son of six children in a Quaker family. It wasn’t until he around 12 years old that his father purchased his first rifle which he soon mastered. The family left Pennsylvania for North Carolina in 1749 where Daniel began his own hunting business.
Betsy Griscom Ross – Flag maker – (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836)
James Buchanan – 15th U.S. President – (April 23, 1791 – March 4, 1861)
Mariah Bowersock Mendenhall – Midwife – (May 2, 1813 – May 19, 1911)
Louisa May Alcott – Author – (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888)
Grant Marsh – Riverboat Pilot – (May 11, 1834 – January 1916)
Edward Goodrich Acheson – Inventor – (March 9, 1856 – July 6, 1931)
Nellie Bly – Journalist – (May 4, 1864 – January 27, 1922)
Maxwell Anderson – Playwright – (December 15, 1888 – February 28, 1959)
Samuel Barber – Composer – (March 9, 1910 – January 23, 1981)
Lee Iacocca – Auto Executive – (October 15, 1924)
Arnold Palmer – Golfer – (September 10, 1929 – September 25, 2016)
John Updike – Author – March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009
Reginald Reggie Jackson – Baseball Player – May 18, 1946
Stephen Foster – Composer – (July 4 1826 – January 13, 1864)
Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle – Doylestown
The Dream Garden – Philadelphia
Philadelphia Magic Gardens – Philadelphia
Cave of Kelpius – Philadelphia
American Treasure Tour – Oaks
Longwood Gardens – Kennett Square
Columcille Megalith Park – Bangor
Leap the Dips – Altoona
Oldest operating rollercoaster
Horseshoe Curve – Blair County
National Watch & Clock Museum – Columbia
Railroaders Memorial Museum – Altoona
DelGrosso’s Amusement and Water Park – Tipton