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Conrad, William Charles (2008) DEVELOPMENT IN EXTRACTIVE COMMUNITIES: RIDGWAY AND ST. MARYS, PENNSYLVANIA, 1850-1914. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Ridgway and St. Marys, two communities dependent upon the natural resources and located in Pennsylvania's High Plateau, developed in extraordinary ways, and while both remained culturally quite different, economics and circumstances drew them together. The way in which they developed made them very different from the typical extractive towns of the era, which were often controlled by outside interests. Ridgway, organized in 1833 by Yankee Protestant lumbermen, and St. Marys, organized in 1842 by German Catholic immigrant farmers, were significantly different, but shared a common attributes. Almost immediately, both towns formed as strong, locally controlled, civilized, and independent communities, complete with extended families, religions organizations, and social institutions uncommon in the typical extractive company towns. Looking back upon their origins, it seemed as if the early settlers were intent not only upon creating permanent communities for themselves, but also establishing lasting habitats for their children and grandchildren. This unique process of development did not end with the decline of the extractive era; rather, at the end of the nineteenth century, a more remarkable development occurred. Local entrepreneurs, building upon the stable economic platform created during the mining, logging, and railroad era, led a new and remarkable transformation when they shifted from an economy based on harvesting soft coal, white pine, hemlock, and hardwood, to an economy based on manufacturing carbon and graphite products—a completely different and highly technical industry not connected to the local natural resources. This transformation, from extraction to manufacturing, came at a time when many extractive company towns, having exhausted the natural resources, vanished from the landscape. The two communities succeeded for five reasons. The natural resources made extractive development possible. Local leaders helped influence the route of the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad through both communities. Ten miles of wilderness isolated the two communities and protected their ethnic and religious lifestyles. Political compatibility and strong local leadership prevented extreme political and religious differences from disrupting development. Ultimately, the unique blend of natural resources, individuals, culture, and politics created an unduplicated form of development that continued well into the late twentieth century.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Conrad, William
Date: 10 June 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 9 April 2008
Approval Date: 10 June 2008
Submission Date: 17 April 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ethno-culturism; extraction; logging; logging railroads; Natural resources; politics; religion; rural Pennsylvania; tanning; coal mining; ethnicity
Other ID:, etd-04172008-103515
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:38
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


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