Al Holliday, publisher of Pennsylvania Magazine, spoke of “25 Odd, Improbable and Fun Facts about Pennsylvania” at the DuBois Area Historical Society’s 37th annual dinner held at Christ Lutheran Church in DuBois.
Holliday is a graduate of Michigan State University and holds a master’s degree in speech pathology and school administration. He has been the publisher of Pennsylvania Magazine since its first issue in 1981. He was the editor of the magazine for 20 years, with his son, Matt, now holding that position. Prior to joining Pennsylvania Magazine he was director of public relations for two school systems and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Holliday’s program focused on personalities, facts, figures and trivia, such as:
- What honor did William and Hannah Penn receive in 1983? Honorary United State citizenship, said Holliday, noting, “There’s only about five people, including Winston Churchill, that have this honor.”
- Which general in the Civil War lost a leg in a battle, later became Pennsylvania’s governor, and also has a sporting legacy? “General Beaver was the man who lost a leg in battle,” said Holliday. “He was a general, he became our governor, and the (Penn State) stadium is named after him. There are several books about that stadium and how it’s grown over the years. And it’s about the third biggest stadium in the nation.”
- In the southeast part of the state, one can see lots of barns painted with hex signs. The only purpose for the signs is decoration, he said.
- The Pennsylvania Turnpike officially opened on Oct. 1, 1940, with no speed limit, which didn’t last long, he said. The speed limit was set the next year at 60 miles per hour.
- There are 121 state parks in Pennsylvania of various sizes.
- How many covered bridges there are in the state is almost impossible to answer, said Holliday. There are many original covered bridges made in the 1800s, but a lot of them had been reinforced and moved and and there are some that have been built so, technically, there are 213. Lancaster County has the most, while Perry County has the second most.
Holliday congratulated the DuBois Area Historical Society on the large attendance at the dinner.
“I live in Camp Hill Borough on the other side of Harrisburg. We have 6,000 residents. We have a historical society and if we have more than 10 people at a meeting, it’s remarkable,” said Holliday. “You have a dedication to your area and I applaud you for it. I think it’s very important that we keep track of what goes on where we live, and you’ve done a wonderful job, thanks to the president and the staff members and all of the officers.”