This Just In...

"Roadside America and the Engine(s) of Progress," an article I wrote for the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography's special issue on enegy is available now through their site and JSTOR. This article explores the rich tableau of the Roadside America tourist attraction in Shartlesville, PA as a material culture "text" through which to understand key relationships between energy sources and Pennsylvania's lived history.Of particular interest is the model's depiction of the coal and petroleum industries in Central Pennsylvania (it includes scale replicas of an anthracite colliery and an oil refinery) as well as its extensive use of electricity in both the model itself and its promotional materials.The design of the attraction is such that the visitor encounters discrete periods of Pennsylvania history coexisting on a single plane, with a sort of cosmological effect - diesel locomotives roar past horse-drawn carriages, a "modern" (c. 1963) power plant sits just over a hill from Revolutionary War-era cottages, etc.The result is a vibrant tapestry of interweaving uses and sources of energy, presenting in one vista the evolution of American industry, travel and communication technologies.

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