Welcome to Pennsylvania Genealogy Trails!
Pennsylvania Facts

Information is from a publication put out by Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Contributed by Tammy Clark

Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Seney National Wildlife Refuge

State Bird

Ruffed Grouse- Settlers relied on this plump, red-brown bird with the feathery legs as part of their supply. Sometimes called a partridge, the Ruffed Grouse is still a familiar sight in Pennsylvania's forests.

State Tree

Hemlock-The Hemlock was a sturdy ally to the state's first settlers. Many pioneer families felt better protected from the elements and their enemies inside log cabins made from the patriarch of Pennsylvania's forest.

Source:  Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

State Flower

Mountain Laurel-In mid-June, every mountain side in Pennsylvania is a still-life in pink pastels-a sight which delighted members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate as well as the wife of Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot. Together, they prevailed over Pinchot's preference for the azalea to name the Mountain Laurel as the official state flower.

State Dog

Great Dane- The next time you visit the Governor's Reception Room in Harrisburg, look for a portrait of William Penn with his Great Dane. Now a popular pet, the Great Dane was a hunting and working breed in frontier Pennsylvania. The choice of State Dog is also unique in the vote that approved it. When the Speaker of the House called a voice vote to designate the Great Dane, yips, growls, and barks assaulted his ears from every part of the chamber! With a rap of his gavel, the Speaker confirmed that the "arfs have it," and the "Barking Dog Vote" entered the annals of legislative history.

Source: Wikipedia

Source:  USDA Agricultural Service
Photo by Scott Bauer.

State Animal

The Whitetail Deer- Indians and settlers depended on the Whitetail Deer to feed, clothe, and shelter them year round. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the nation's first game law in 1721 to protect these valuable animals, some of which grew to 350 pounds. Whitetail Deer continue to flourish today in Pennsylvania's forests.

State Fish

Brook Trout-There is nothing more beautiful than the flash of a Brook Trout beneath the bubbling current-especially for Pennsylvania's 1.1 million angles. Over 4,000 miles of cold water steams form the natural habitat of this fish, the only trout native to Pennsylvania.

Source: US Fish and Wildlife Service
Photo by Eric Engbretson.

State Insect

Firefly-Pennsylvanians know fireflies as "lightning bugs" that brighten a still summer night. That may be why some Pennslvania citizens heard the word "firefly" and confused it with "blackfly," a pest that plagued the Commonwealth in 1988. To clarify the identity of the State Insect, the General Assembly rewrote the law later that year singling out the Firefly by its Latin name-"Porturis Pensylvanica De Geer."

State Beverage

Milk-This designation is a fitting tribute to one of the Commonwealth's leading farm products. It also salutes that state's gentle dairy cows with each produce a generous 22 quarts of milk a day.

Source: Wikipedia

State Beautification Plant

Crownvetch-Since the late 1950's a profusion of white and lavender blossoms has trimmed the edges of Pennsylvania highways. Scientists at Penn State University developed the hearty Crownvetch to use as a groundcover for erosion control. The versatile plant is also a value to agribusiness as a feed for livestock.

State Steam Locomotive

The K4s Steam Locomotive is everyone's idea of a typical train engine. The boxy, black cylinder with the short stack on top was the main passenger locomotive of the Pennsylvania railroad for 30 years. At one time, 425 of these powerful coal-burners steamed across the state-every one built in Pennsylvania. The State Steam Locomotive is on display in railroad museums in Altoona and Strasburg.

Source: Library of Congress - Gottscho-Schleisner collection

State Electric Locomotive

The GGI 4859 Electric Locomotive is one of the 138 sleek and shiny bullets that smoked the rails at speeds about 100 miles per hour. Built in 1937, the GGI 4859 pulled troop trains to military destinations during War World II and continued powering coal and passenger cars until retirement in 1979. The State Electric Locomotive is displayed in Harrisburg.

State Ship

United States Brig Niagara- The Niagara, under Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, was decisive in the War of 1812. On September 10, 1813, it defeated a British squadron in the Battle of Lake Erie. The Niagara is displayed in Erie.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

State Fossil

Phacops Rana-A water animal measuring just one to four inches, the Phacops Rana lived and left its mark in Pennsylvania more than 250 million years ago. A science class of elementary school students brought this tiny invertebrate to the attention of the House of Representatives.

Nine Regions of Pennsylvania

It took 130 years to create Pennsylvania's 67 counties.

1. Colonial Pennsylvania-Historic attractions, high-tech, education and banking. The birthplace of the nation-where independence was declared and the American Constitution received. Counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia

2. Dutch Heartland- Agriculture, tourism and manufacturing. A magnet for tourists attracted to the appealing rural landscape and lifestyle of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Counties: Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon

3. Susquehanna Valley- Commerce, agriculture and chocolate. Considered frontier in 1776, this river valley region housed the seat of state government by 1812 and thrives today as a center of commerce. Counties: Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Juniata, Mifflin(partial), Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union, York

4. Anthracite Area- Recreation, manufacturing and coal. A distinct culture and proud heritage mark this mountainous region which, in its prime, mined more hard coal than anywhere else in the world. Counties: Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Schuylkill

5. Lehigh Valley and The Poconos-Tourism, recreation, agriculture and manufacturing. Cultural events in a mountain landscape blend with German lager by the lakefront in this fast-growing area of diverse interests and opportunities. Counties: Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Wayne

6. The Highlands-Education, recreation, agriculture and coal. Site of the historic Appalachian Divide and location of the state's precise geographical center, The Highlands are home to the Penn State's Nittany Lions, and Punxsutawney Phil, the visionary groundhog who appears each February 2nd to forecast spring. Counties: Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Mifflin (partial), Somerset.

7. Northern Tier-Hunting, fishing, hardwood and agriculture. The largest open space in the northeastern United States, this region houses the Little Grand Canyon and more deer, bear and trout than people. Counties: Bradford, Cameron, Clinton, Elk, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wyoming, Forest.

8. Steel Kingdom-Manufacturing, coal, high-tech and banking. Once the exclusive domain of smiths, masons and millworkers, the region now attracts programmers, professors and corporate executives. Counties: Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington, Westermoreland.

9. Northwest Territory- Manufacturing, shipping, recreation, oil and grapes. The gateway to Canada and the American West, this productive region was first known as the "Erie Triangle." Counties: Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Warren.

Back to Pennsylvania Trails History and Genealogy