Throughout the PA Route 6 Heritage Corridor, there are stories of how immigrants, whether as individuals or groups, made their mark in their new home country.
Here are six examples:
1. Meadville (Crawford County): Gideon Sundback, a Swedish-American electrical engineer commonly credited with the development of the zipper, worked for companies that evolved into Talon, Inc. located in Meadville PA. The high demand for “hookless fasteners” created favorable conditions for the Talon Company, and so became Meadville’s most crucial industry. At the height of the zipper's popularity, the Meadville zipper factories employed 5,000 workers—out of a town with fewer than 19,000 people. The Company suffered financial difficulties after it was sold in 1978, and eventually ended up bankrupt. Gideon Sundback is buried in Meadville at Greendale Cemetery and was honored in 2006 by inclusion in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
|Mt. Jewett Swedish Community|
2. Mount Jewett (McKean County): This small village in the Pennsylvania Wilds has a distinct Swedish heritage: even their park bench says “Välkommen”. First settled by Swedish immigrants, today’s residents celebrate their Swedish heritage with a town-wide event featuring authentic Swedish food, dance and music every August. The historic Nebo Chapel built in 1887 is an octagonal shaped church, patterned after Ersta Kyrka at Danviken near Stockholm Sweden. www.mtjewettpa.com
3. Oleona (Potter County): Named for Ole Bornemann Bull, the famous Norwegian violinist who toured the United States in the 1850s, Oleona is part of the large tract of land purchased by Ole Bull in an attempt to develop a series of Norwegian settlements. He began construction of a “home” at what now is called Ole Bull Vista in Ole Bull State Park. He never finished this large, wooden cabin. After a year of severe hardships, the majority of the colony disbanded and moved west into Michigan and Wisconsin. More history and interpretation is available at the Ole Bull State Park website: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/olebull/index.htm?tab=Maps
|Marie Antoinette Overlook|
6. White Mills (Wayne County): Christian Dorflinger, a French immigrant, moved his glass making factory to the town of White Mills including the plant and homes for the workers. Dorflinger's cut glass is known worldwide. Today, tours of the Dorflinger Glass Museum and the worker’s cabins are available and work continues on interpreting the rich history and heritage of the glassmaking industry. www.dorflinger.org
The PA Route 6 Alliance encourages travelers to explore the rich history of the Route 6 Heritage Corridor, one of Pennsylvania’s twelve designated Heritage Areas. For more information, visit their website at www.paroute6.com.