University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Pitt-Johnstown Seal

Fall - Winter 2009

THE FRONTIER IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE FRONTIER: RESPONSES TO THE OFFICIAL “CLOSING” OF THE AMERICAN SETTLEMENT FRONTIER

Mark A. Blumler
Deptartment of Geography
SUNY-Binghamton, NY

Abstract

The official “closing” of the American frontier after the 1890 census was influential in the rise of the modern environmental movement, which promoted living within our means, sustainably.  But it also was followed by numerous attempts to create substitute frontiers, so as to sustain the growth and expansion that were characteristic of the American frontier period, as of all frontiers.  Several of these attempts failed, while others succeeded, at least temporarily and in purely economic terms.  This leaves us in a sticky situation today, needing to somehow continue to develop frontiers, or lapse back into “normal” conditions, with the enormous readjustments that would be necessary given that we have gone so far down this frontier path.


QUANTITATIVE MAPPING AND POPULATION RESTRUCTURING: MIGRATION, DIFFUSION, AND ECONOMIC CHANGE IN ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

Nicholas A. Wise
Department of Geography and Regional Planning
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Recent historical and global factors have influenced migration in and out of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.  The populations of Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh have been declining since the 1960s, influenced by economic restructuring.  This study looks at population growths and declines within Allegheny County and the spatial distribution of where people are migrating domestically.  Pittsburgh’s most recent response to population decline is the ‘renaissance.’  Through the ‘renaissance,’ the city government’s focus is urban revitalization, redevelopment, and expansion of amenities to promote a progressive image.  Applying mixed methods, United States census figures were used to analyze population redistributions by county subdivision, and the county-to-county migrations.  A multiple regression predicts the population figures for 2010, and by incorporating qualitative data, including newspaper articles and secondary sources, the way the city of Pittsburgh is restructuring and attempting to combat declining trends in population is determined.


COLONIAL SETTLEMENT PATTERNS IN PENNSYLVANIA'S CUMBERLAND VALLEY

Christopher Barner

Abstract

During the 1700s as the frontier moved westward through Pennsylvania's Cumberland Valley, the rate of settlement outran the ability of the colonial government to regulate it. This scramble for land, initially unhindered by any outside interference, reveal individual preferences for settlement locations. By analyzing early land records and comparing them to geographic factors in the landscape, we can learn a great deal about the motives of these early settlers and about settlement patterns in general. This paper uses a mapping- and statistics-based analysis of the settlement process to draw conclusions about historic individuals as well as general motivations for settlement.


CONSERVATION DESIGN IN CHESTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: ASSESSING PRESERVATION OUTCOMES

Dorothy Ives-Dewey
Geography and Planning Department
West Chester University
and
 Daniel Fitz-Patrick
Regional Planning
West Chester University

Abstract

Conservation development has become a widely accepted residential development option in suburban areas in Pennsylvania. As an alternative to conventional, sprawl settlement patterns, conservation development is touted as a land development form that can more effectively preserve natural resources at both the site level and over a region. Based on a sample of completed conservation developments in Chester County, Pennsylvania, this research empirically assesses the outcome of these projects in regard to preservation of selected natural features. The features that are tested include steep slopes, woodlands and open space. The results indicate that conservation development is more effective at preserving open space and moderate and steep slopes than woodlands. The findings have implications for the design of effective regulations of conservation development to better preserve all natural features.


RURAL ARCHITECTURE AS A HISTORICAL CULTURAL INDICATOR:  THE CASE OF BARNS IN MONROE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

Dawn M. Drake
Department of Geography
University of Tennessee

Abstract 

Researchers have identified the efficacy of architecture in establishing the historical narrative for a place.  Rural architectural elements, including barns, can be particularly useful for identifying historic culture regions in an area.  This study identifies a number of architectural styles for barns and the culture regions related to them to construct a preliminary historical landscape for Monroe County, Pennsylvania.  English and German-style barns can, and have, been utilized effectively as material culture indicators.  Without dating the barns, rough boundaries can be delineated between H. Henry Glassie’s “North Culture Region” and “Mid-Atlantic Culture Region” within Monroe County.  Further examination of historic demographic patterns within the county can be used to solidify the boundaries and verify the suitability of the barn as a historical cultural indicator in northeastern Pennsylvania.


TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION RELATIONSHIPS WITH TREE RING GROWTH FOR RED OAK AND PIN OAK SPECIMENS IN SOUTH-CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA

Sarah Stengl, Timothy W. Hawkins and Kurt Fuellhart
Department of Geography and Earth Science
Shippensburg University

Abstract

Dendrochronology historically has been a useful tool to analyze a tree’s response to climate variations and to reconstruct past climate based on these responses.  For this study, tree ring widths were measured for a pin oak and red oak specimen in south-central Pennsylvania and compared with local precipitation and temperature data.  Generally, positive correlations exist between precipitation and the tree ring widths and negative correlations exist between temperature and the tree ring widths suggesting cool moist conditions favor ring growth.  A principle component analysis on the climate data produced variables that were used as input into a multiple regression analysis.  The climate-based components explained 13% of the variance in pin oak ring width but were not significant in explaining red oak tree ring width.  Differences in the species response to temperature and precipitation variations are likely due to physiological differences between the species and the physical habitat of the specimens. 


CAVE CLIMATOLOGY OF LAUREL CAVERNS, PENNSYLVANIA

Stephen Vermette
Department of Geography and Planning
Buffalo State College
and
Lisa Hall
Laurel Caverns Geological Park
Uniontown, Pennsylvania

Abstract

Laurel Caverns is a commercial cave located in southwest Pennsylvania. The cave was instrumented with Hobo (Onset Corporation) data loggers to monitor hourly averaged air temperature and relative humidity for a one year period (November 2006 to November 2007). The mean annual cave temperature ranged between 50.1oF in the developed section of the cave to 48.9oF in the undeveloped section. Both sections of the cave recorded a low temperature of 47.5oF to 48.2oF, reflecting the natural equilibrium temperature of the cave. The developed section of the cave exhibits definite seasonal and diurnal temperature patterns. The undeveloped section of the cave exhibits little temperature variability, although a one-time spike in temperatures was recorded. Relative humidity remained at 100% for much of the sampling period, although levels dropped to between 75% and 85% at two sites near the end of the sampling period. Proxy methods for determining temperature were effective.