A new walking trail through Pennsylvania College of Technology’s main campus invites visitors to stroll its grounds and gain a connection with the campus’s rich history and traditions.
Installed in mid-October, the History Trail is marked by 17 kiosks that delineate an easy walking path around the campus that in bygone days was occupied by Williamsport High School, manufacturing plants and other businesses. Through text and photos, the signs provide a wealth of information about campus landmarks and programs, with morsels of the city’s history.
For instance, a sign in front of the George H. Parkes Automotive Technology Center sheds light on the area’s first automotive instruction, offered by Williamsport High School with one student, one instructor and one vehicle under the bleachers of the high school’s football field. Such classes were the foundation for what would become Williamsport Technical Institute and later Williamsport Area Community College and Penn College.
The Henry G. Hager Lifelong Education Center’s kiosk likewise tells the story of Hager and the functions of the building, but also reveals a local legend that occurred on the building’s grounds, when they were occupied by the Williamsport High School baseball field. During a Halloween exhibition baseball game 90 years ago, Hall-of-Famer Babe Ruth hit a 500-foot home run that hit a giant chair atop the Culler Factory, a furniture company that was once located in the area.
Filled with aerial photos and such other historical detail as the railroad tracks that once ran through campus, the trail was designed for the community and invites visitors and alumni to acquaint – or reacquaint – themselves with the college.
“Our goal was to tell the story of Penn College,” said Megan L. Ripka, public information specialist in the College Information and Community Relations Office. “It has a vivid history that many people don’t know about, and the markers help to bring that history to life. You can stand in a space and see, from the historical photos, what it looked like, and you can see how the college has grown over the years.”
She was among six employees in that office who devised and developed the idea, scouring the college archives for historical and recent photos, developing text and designing the signage.
Other staff involved were Elaine J. Lambert, director of college information and community relations; Shawn P. McGehean, web designer; Carlos Ramos, web designer/interactive media strategist; Michael Richards, web designer; and Park Williams, coordinator of digital publishing.
A complete list of sites on the History Trail, with accompanying descriptions, can be viewed on the Web.