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The road taken, a journey in time down pennsylvania route 45. By Joan Morse Gordon. The Local History Company, publishers of history and heritage.
Title: The Road Taken, A Journey In Time Down Pennsylvania Route 45.
Author: Joan Morse Gordon,

List Price: $19.95, ISBN 0-9711835-1-1

Includes 40 photos, maps, and illustrations.

There is another America awaiting the traveler, if he or she takes the time to experience it. The traveler must abandon the Interstates and journey along the older U.S. and state routes that traverse what was once called 'the countryside' .... Gordon asks us to rediscover this other America.

From the foreword by Edward K. Muller, Professor of History,
Director of Urban Studies, University of Pittsburgh.

***** 5 star rating. "Soulful observations and colorful local personalities.

Joan Morse Gordon's The Road Taken: A Journey In Time Down Pennsylvania Route 45 is the story of one woman's journey that began with an Interstate drive, and which led to her fascinating survey of regional Pennsylvania, its history, and the people who call the land home. Picturesque black-and-white photographs, soulful observations and colorful local personalities make The Road Taken is a genuine treat for the armchair traveler and/or the Pennsylvania history buff.

Midwest Book Review

To see a map of Route 45 and The Purple Heart Highway, CLICK:
The Route 45 Joan Gordon discusses in her book is also known as the Purple Heart highway. Map showing bed and breakfast locations and other shops and attractions. Click to see larger version of Route 45 Puprle Heart Highway map in Centre County, central Pennsylvania.
ISBN 0-9711835-1-1, © 2002, 5.5 x 8.5 in., 200 pages, softcover, 60 per carton. 40 photos, maps, and illustrations. Bibliography and name plus subject index. Subject categories include non-fiction, history, local history, heritage, genealogy, travel, Pennsylvania, historic sites, Centre County, Huntingdon County, Union County, Montour County, State College, Lewisburg, religious tolerance, Amish, Palentine, and immigration.


  • William Penn's legacy of religious tolerance and the people who found their way here to enjoy it.
  • The story of Jewish immigrant and land developer Aaron Levy, whose ecumenical gift of a communion set to the local Protestant churches led to an international celebration over 150 years later that attracted 30,000 visitors to Aaronsburg.
  • Why chemist/minister Joseph Priestly escaped to Pennsylvania ahead of an English mob.
  • Why a lop of the guillotine kept Marie Antoinette from becoming a Pennsylvanian.
  • The legacy of "steel" farms.
  • A contemporary local who dowses for graves.
  • Young urban emigrants seeking a gentler place to live and raise a family.
  • Potters, and squatters, poets and thieves.

It often takes an outsider to see the value of a place.

Just as early settlers know a good thing when they saw it, Joan Morse Gordon recognizes the innate beauty of this "blue highway" and the strength of its history and people. She invites the reader on a journey worth taking for anyone interested in history, Pennsylvania, or just a good tale, covering a time span from the region's geological formation to today.


  • This road of mine, I was pleased to note, was no thruway. This was a byway, a road less traveled, less transient, with a greater sense of permanence, of roots. I like roots, mine being fairly shallow.
  • Direction signs at a crossroads indicated springs, forges, mills and caves nearby, all echoes of the past. More important was what wasn't there: billboards, graffiti, used car lots, and even worse, auto graveyards and adult movie shacks, typical despoilers of the landscape of so many highways today.
  • Nailed to the siding on the northwest corner of Stover's Village Store, in Aaronsburg, PA, is a small corroded bronze-colored plaque with the words "Geographical Center of Pennsylvania," half hidden by a large PEPSI cooler standing alongside its COCA COLA cousin. No one quite remembers when the sign was put there, but it was quite some time ago.
  • The surnames one comes across most frequently are Beachy, Peachy, Zook, Beiler, Hostetler, Stolzfus and Yoder. (Peirce) Lewis describes the newly arrived Amish as "hermit crabs" converting an old farm or California ranch house to their own needs.
  • It is the Palatine Germans and Swiss who have had the biggest impact on Route 45 and whose descendants have prevailed . . . . Unlike second or third generation offspring of immigrants who cluster in heavily ethnic neighborhoods in cities, with churches onion-domed or medieval, who celebrate in a stopped time ritual with food and dance and song the traditions of their forebears, the citizens along Route 45 tend to think of themselves as village or township or county residents; Pennsylvanians or American first.
  • In 1737, long after his father's departure, William Penn's son, Thomas, used the same walking measure contorted by deceit to trick the Lenape out of their rightful land. In what was called the "Walking Purchase," the Lenape lost 1,200 square miles. Lenape Lappawinsoe protested, "The walkers should have walkt for a few miles and then sat down and smoakt a Pipe . . . and not kept upon the Run, Run, Run all Day."
  • "The lure of the region is in its resistance to radical change. The place teaches us lessons about returns: a return to the values of land, work and community; a return to living relatives and long-departed ancestors; a return to the traditions of neighborliness and self-reliance; a return to life as it should be." Bruce Teeple, Curator, Penns Valley Historical Association.

About the Author

Joan Morse Gordon is a retired fundraising event planner who, when not writing, carves in wood and stone. She travels extensively and is an avid gardener, mushroom hunter, cook and art museum docent. She previously coauthored several works for children and received an MFA in creative non-fiction from the University of Pittsburgh. This is her first solo book-length work.

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