Newswise — Journalism Professor Carolyn Kitch traveled 16,000 miles of Pennsylvania roadways over three years to compile research on a quirky niche of the state’s tourism.
The research was exhaustive, if not exhausting.
Pennsylvania was built on the coal, steel and other blue-collar industries. Though the grasp of these former industrial giants has weakened, many areas of the state are allowing them to live on through museums, monuments and festivals. Kitch visited 224 such tributes to these industries as she compiled information for her latest book, Pennsylvania in Public Memory: Reclaiming the Industrial Past.
“During tough economic times and national political divisions, we are drawn to public storytelling about a lost and better America, the time and place where our parents and grandparents worked hard to build the country, prospered and made a better life for their children,” Kitch says. “Some of this notion is pure nostalgia, but much of it is tied to the very real industries--coal mining, steel-making, railroading, and other major manufacturing jobs--for which Pennsylvania was once famous.”
She details the stops along Lancaster County’s “Sweet ‘n Salty Trail,” a driving tour of food and candy companies and the joy of Hershey’s “Chocolate World” tour.
In Pittsburgh and Johnstown, areas that once relied on the steel industry, cultural heritage and tourism has played a major part in the revival process.
“This book explores our present-day ideas about those past communities of factory towns and patch towns, offering a rhetorical as well as literal journey through museums, tourism, memorials and media depictions of working-class life throughout the Commonwealth," Kitch says.