Portage Area Historical Society

Portage Area Historical Society We are dedicated to the preservation, education and exploration of the rich history of Portage, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding local area.
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Here is a photo of a building that no longer exists - the Bowser Hotel.   It was beside where the Amvets is today, in wh...
05/27/2020

Here is a photo of a building that no longer exists - the Bowser Hotel. It was beside where the Amvets is today, in what is now a parking lot by Summit Bank.

Who remembers the Charlann?  It was located on Route 53    Can you identify the man in this photo?  What year do you thi...
05/26/2020

Who remembers the Charlann? It was located on Route 53 Can you identify the man in this photo? What year do you think it is?

Honor. Remember. Never forget.Each year on Memorial Day Americans pause to remember the fallen and honor their sacrifice...
05/25/2020

Honor. Remember. Never forget.

Each year on Memorial Day Americans pause to remember the fallen and honor their sacrifice. Military.com pauses to remember the sacrifice of members of the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy.

But we do forget. Can you imagine getting a telegram telling you that your loved one was killed in battle? Can you imagine getting this letter from his commanding officer? Letters telling you of your loved one's death and not only death but burial in a foreign land. Let's remember those who died for freedom, and their families.

THe photo is marked on the back - Petey - age 6, Ed age 4, and Clem (our soldier) age 2.

Thanks to Kathy Bilchak Gartland for sharing these documents.

This photo is of the interier of the Oravecz Store.  Take a good close look.  What a statement of the times.  Just love ...
05/24/2020

This photo is of the interier of the Oravecz Store. Take a good close look. What a statement of the times. Just love this photo.

It began when Stephen, August and Adolph Oravecz came to Portage from Czechoslovakia via Berlin, PA. In 1900 they erected the building located at 739 Prospect Street, the present site of Porinchak's Market. They opened a meat market and a grocery store, in separate buildings, at the Prospect Street address.

The Silagyi family shared this very special envelope with us.  It was mailed to them on September 2, 1945, from Tokyo Ba...
05/23/2020

The Silagyi family shared this very special envelope with us. It was mailed to them on September 2, 1945, from Tokyo Bay. What a treasure!

The Japanese surrender on board the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. Early Sunday morning on September 2, 1945, aboard the new 45,000-ton battleship U.S.S. Missouri and before representatives of nine Allied nations, the Japanese signed their surrender.

Memorial Day Weekend - This is what greets you on Main Street Portage.   Thanks to Deb Shope and all who had a hand in t...
05/22/2020

Memorial Day Weekend - This is what greets you on Main Street Portage. Thanks to Deb Shope and all who had a hand in this. This is Apple Pie Small Town USA. Love it.

Thanks to Bruce Walkovich for the photos.

Janice Novitsky Wright shared this photo of  three happy sisters running around the house in the early 60's. With the "c...
05/22/2020

Janice Novitsky Wright shared this photo of three happy sisters running around the house in the early 60's. With the "cigar" tree in full bloom!

TBT - Some original Portage Area Historical Society members.  Do you know anyone?  See comments for names.
05/21/2020

TBT - Some original Portage Area Historical Society members. Do you know anyone? See comments for names.

Irene Soroka MacDonald shared this photo of the Soroka brothers who lived on Prospect Street.  Top left:  John, Charlie,...
05/20/2020

Irene Soroka MacDonald shared this photo of the Soroka brothers who lived on Prospect Street. Top left: John, Charlie, Joey Bottom Left: Larry, Vito, Bill, There were three sisters also, Alberta, Alice and Mary

Great Picture - all dressed up, but so serious looking! Can anyone identify the houses in the background?

Ads - 1958, September 7, Horseshow held at Quaker Store Grounds, (old Moose Field), Opposite Portage Cleaners (Route 53)...
05/19/2020

Ads - 1958, September 7, Horseshow held at Quaker Store Grounds, (old Moose Field), Opposite Portage Cleaners (Route 53). Notice the prize amounts. Wow!

Ads from 1958 - do you remember these businesses?
05/18/2020

Ads from 1958 - do you remember these businesses?

1958 - the fence being installed at the Portage Little League Field at Crichton-McCormick Park.
05/17/2020

1958 - the fence being installed at the Portage Little League Field at Crichton-McCormick Park.

1958 - Len Chappell receives the outstandidng sportsmanship award.
05/16/2020

1958 - Len Chappell receives the outstandidng sportsmanship award.

1958 Samuel C. Leman receives Outstanding Citizen Award from Clifford Randall,
05/15/2020

1958 Samuel C. Leman receives Outstanding Citizen Award from Clifford Randall,

TBT -  know anyone in this photo?  Year?
05/14/2020

TBT - know anyone in this photo? Year?

Just look at these ads from 1959!  What a walk down memory lane.  Notice the phone numbers.  I got a chuckle out of Basi...
05/13/2020

Just look at these ads from 1959! What a walk down memory lane. Notice the phone numbers. I got a chuckle out of Basile's remark. Remember when funeral homes were the ambulance service?

A page from the August 23, 1959, Third Annual Horse Show, Portage Rotary Club Community Service Activity and the Portage...
05/12/2020

A page from the August 23, 1959, Third Annual Horse Show, Portage Rotary Club Community Service Activity and the Portage Horseman's Association. What a great event. Sure wish we were still having these! Any names bring back memories?

I'll bet these ads from 1959 bring back some memories for some of you.
05/11/2020

I'll bet these ads from 1959 bring back some memories for some of you.

1959 - Nick DePola received a typewriter as an award as recipient of the Vinnie Michaels Sports Award.  Says alot about ...
05/10/2020

1959 - Nick DePola received a typewriter as an award as recipient of the Vinnie Michaels Sports Award. Says alot about the times, doesn't it. The best technology of 1959!

LIMITED TIME OFFER - In 1918, Portage was hit hard by the Spanish Flu pandemic.  This small mining community lost approx...
05/09/2020

LIMITED TIME OFFER - In 1918, Portage was hit hard by the Spanish Flu pandemic. This small mining community lost approximately 253 people to the flu. Closeness working in the coals mines and the one large factory put people in too close proximity. The Mountain House was converted to a hospital to handle the sick and dieing.

The Mountain House on the northwest corner of Mountain Avenue and Farren Street was owned by Wallace Plummer during its prime. He advertised a "commercial men's house" with rates of $2 per day. John Stefanko, who had owned the Palace Hotel in Windber, bought the Mountain House in 1942 from Martin Realty Company. Company officials had lived in apartments there. The Mountain House is no longer standing.

This collectible was handmade by students in the Portage High School wood shop and a hand-drawing was attached atop. This unique piece was once sold for $20 as a fundraiser for the Portage Station Museum. We have a limited number remaining and will sell them for $10 each plus $5 for shipping. Please send your check to Portage Station Museum, PO Box 45, Portage PA 15946. Buy this collectible and help the Museum remain in Portage, sharing our rich heritage for future generations!

in 1959, Portage honored Uncle Bill Carpenter for his benevolent service to the community.  Uncle Bill was a much loved ...
05/09/2020

in 1959, Portage honored Uncle Bill Carpenter for his benevolent service to the community. Uncle Bill was a much loved citizen of Portage.

1959 - Kate Mears as a young girl, and receiving the Rotary Outstanding Citizen award n 1959.
05/08/2020

1959 - Kate Mears as a young girl, and receiving the Rotary Outstanding Citizen award n 1959.

TBT - Rotary Champs from 1959.  Who do you know?
05/07/2020

TBT - Rotary Champs from 1959. Who do you know?

Thanks go to Galen and Barry Feathers for sharing a couple of booklets from the horse shows that were held in Portage.  ...
05/06/2020

Thanks go to Galen and Barry Feathers for sharing a couple of booklets from the horse shows that were held in Portage. Who remembers these? Originally they were held down on the field that was on route 53 where the Portage Medical Center and stores are located called Moose Field or Quaker Field as it was later called. Later on they were held where the Mustang Stadium parking lot is.

If you are an early bird and get the daily post from this page before I have been up and checking on it, I want to apolo...
05/05/2020

If you are an early bird and get the daily post from this page before I have been up and checking on it, I want to apologize for the quality of the typing lately. Facebook changed the way that I have to keep drafts and scheduled posts, and it does not allow me to go in and correct what I have saved and scheduled to post. I am always working 6 months ahead and the posts are scheduled to automatically post. In the past I have checked the next day's post to make sure spelling, typos etc were corrected. I was not too fussy about the draft/scheduled posts because I would fix them up the day before they posted. I can no longer do that. SO - if you are an early bird and see a post before I am up and get it checked, you may see some typos etc. Sorry. I am double checking my posts now before they go into the draft and scheduling folders in Facebook so this will eventually work itself out.

1976 Flashback - The Inquiring Photographer of the Portage Dispatch asked the question "What Do You Think Has Changed Mo...
05/05/2020

1976 Flashback - The Inquiring Photographer of the Portage Dispatch asked the question "What Do You Think Has Changed Most AQbout America In Your Lifetime?"

Benedict Long, retired miner and farmer, RD 1 Portage said, "Everything has changed. Farming has changed a lot. Everything is on such a large scale. Now you either have to go big or get out of farming. The car certainly has changed things a lot, everything is so fast today. As far as morals of people, we were better off before than now. I think that the drug problem has a lot to do with it. Another thing is radio and television brings us more information on politics than we used to get. We are more aware now, but I don't really know if the politicians were any better in the past. I do, however, thnk they spend too much money. There are too many new schools being constructed, with some that have been built not paid for yet. The one thing that bothers me the most today though, is the fact that the farmers are taking the beating,"

44 years later, I wonder if Mr. Long would think we are better or worse.

1976 Flashback - Portage borough streets got a good scrubbing and the curbs a new paint job last week as borough workers...
05/04/2020

1976 Flashback - Portage borough streets got a good scrubbing and the curbs a new paint job last week as borough workers helped make the town a little sharper for the bicentennial events July 1 through 6. Don Squillario, a borough employee, supervised Neighborhood Youth Corps workers painting curbs along Main Street.

1976 Flashback -  Presidential Bicentennial message:  Portage Mayor Thomas Mitchell (seated) recently presented a framed...
05/03/2020

1976 Flashback - Presidential Bicentennial message: Portage Mayor Thomas Mitchell (seated) recently presented a framed letter containing a bicentennial message to the borough from President Gerald R Ford. Making the presentation is (left) Don Helsel, president of the Portage Area Bicentennial Committee. Police Chief Carl Chappell also participated in the presentation.

1976 Flashback  -  Girl Scout Troop makes bicennteniel quilt. Were you part of this troop?
05/02/2020

1976 Flashback - Girl Scout Troop makes bicennteniel quilt. Were you part of this troop?

1976 Flashback - The Inquiring Photographer of the Portage Dispatch asked the question "What Do You Think Has Changed Mo...
05/01/2020

1976 Flashback - The Inquiring Photographer of the Portage Dispatch asked the question "What Do You Think Has Changed Most AQbout America In Your Lifetime?"

Edward D Culley answered "There are many changes that have taken place in America during my lifetime, but the one change in my opinion that is the most significant is transportation. We have come from the horse and buggy days to airplanes that travel faster than the speed of sound, from the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hak to the manned moon flights. It used to take approximately two weeks to travel from the U.S. to Europe by ships such as the Queen Mary, now it is possible to fly nonstop between Washington DC and London and Paris in three hours or to anywhere in the world in approximately six hours. I also remember when it took three hours to travel to Loretto in the horse and buggy while in the automobile of today the same trip can be made in 15 mintues."

1976 Flashback - this photo was in the First National Bank ad in the Portage Dispatch for the Bicenntenial.  Do you now ...
04/30/2020

1976 Flashback - this photo was in the First National Bank ad in the Portage Dispatch for the Bicenntenial. Do you now any of these folks? (Names can be found in the comments.)

1976 Flashback - The Inquiring Photographer of the Portage Dispatch asked the question "What Do You Think Has Changed Mo...
04/29/2020

1976 Flashback - The Inquiring Photographer of the Portage Dispatch asked the question "What Do You Think Has Changed Most AQbout America In Your Lifetime?"

Margaret Keenan, retired school teacher, Portage, said this, "I think that technology has changed things a lot. We used to walk and now there's cars and so many other conveniences. There has been a terrific change in schools. I don't think that they have changed too much for the better, however. There was more interest in teaching the students to really learn in the past, there weren't all the frills associated with it as there is today. The fact that America was a melting pot of cultures that brought so much talent and knowledge to America was our biggest blessing. We've had troubled times and we always seem to come back. There are so many good young people that I think they will help our country greatly in the future."

I wonder what Mrs. Keenan would think of our schools and technology today, 44 years later.

I would like to thank Jean Silagyi Rebovich for donating some Dispatch newpapers, Tribune Democrat newspaprs, and Life M...
04/28/2020

I would like to thank Jean Silagyi Rebovich for donating some Dispatch newpapers, Tribune Democrat newspaprs, and Life Magazines to the Museum. Let's a take a short break from our Chronological History to take a look at some items from the 1976 Dispatch, starting tomorrow.

If anyone would like to donate old Dispatch/Mainline newspapers - please let me know.

The photo is from December 1972 article on the closing of Silagyi's Market.

1919 - what were our ancestors talking about?  Firsts, Inventions, and Wonders:Enterprise, Alabama, erected an elaborate...
04/27/2020

1919 - what were our ancestors talking about? Firsts, Inventions, and Wonders:

Enterprise, Alabama, erected an elaborate monument in the middle of town to honor the boll weevil for its profound influence on the area’s agriculture and economy. This is probably the world’s first monument built to honor an agricultural pest.

The Dutch airline KLM was formed. It is the oldest airline flying under it’s orginal name.

Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was founded.

Crystal Meth was developed by Japanese Chemist Akira Ogata.

Bentley Motors Limited was founded.

American Meteorological Society was founded in Boston.

Grand Canyon National Park: An act of the United States Congress established most of the Grand Canyon as a United States National Park.

Pepperoni is a variety of salami created in the US, and the word was first used to describe the sausage in 1919.

Photos - Boll Weevil momument, Grand Canyon in 1919, 1919 Bentley

1919 - The Year of Peace  (Altoona Times, 1919)
04/26/2020

1919 - The Year of Peace (Altoona Times, 1919)

Address

400 Lee Street, PO Box 45
Portage, PA
15946

Telephone

(814) 736-9223

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TBT !! Think you can guess all of them in this photo?
Still waiting to hear if you got the squirt bottle salt and pepper shakers and my donation Clarence (nick) mansell
VA card for Michael Toth
Sunday morning in Portage. The bells sounded like those of St Michael Russian Orthodox Church. I remember hearing them as a small child when visiting my Grandmother, Hilda Peterson who live behind her son's, Red Peterson, store, Johnson and Cambria. We are Catholic so I didn't get into that magnificent church until Uncle Red and I stopped in the 1980's and the priest was kind enough to take us in. Wow, what a awesome place!
One of the reasons I got back on facebook is to view this page. Did you receive the SQUIRT salt and pepper shakers and my check? I am a member of the Sanders Family, my great grandfather founded Cassandra Bottling. The shakers were given to my mom in the 60's by C R Sanders while visiting him and his sister Marcella COnnell (my godmother) 😁
Just want to mention I just read "Two generations on the Allegheny Portage Railroad" by Chris J. Lewie. I really liked it. Easy to read. Very good job. Thank you.
1949-1950 Deloris Louise Marisa, my Mom playing her accordion. Were you friends with her or remember this talented beautiful lady?
Hey all you Portage People who attended Portage Area EMS from 1983 to 1987. How many ever participated in a school production by Kim Byrne and Lucy Prebish? I am not talking about singing with your class, but actually having parts. I know I participated in a few of them. If you did, would you please tell us what you did, and who performed with you? I remember being a Samauri Warrior in a Christmas Play about Christmas Internationally with ours being Japan and a Mime for a Spring Talent Show in 1984( 4th Grade) and a Circus Strongman with Mike "Moose" Jones in 1985(5th Grade). Those were fun times, and I am sure many may have memories. This is part of our town history within our generation, so please share your memories.
The Laurel Highlands Historical village will be collecting Food and paper products for area veterans and elderly who are shut in and need the help. During the winter season our food collections locations include Stagers in Portage, Rizzo Chiropractic on 400 N Center St, Ebensburg, Hoss’s Ebensburg, Imler’s Outlet Store Altoona. As our efforts continue we find more and more people in need every day. We have been on a mission to get as much food as we can, as the demand continues to rise. PLEASE if you have any leftover food in your pantry consider donating same. We also want to thank the various business who continue to help our veterans. Also we are looking for any household item (still working) that we can recycle and give to the folks who could use same i.e. blender, electric skillets, crock pots, coffee pots, towels etc. Please call our office for pickup of these items. Items needed: Can goods, canned meats, heat & serve meals, rice meals, etc. snacks, rice meals, cheese, meat, drinks, coffee, drink mixes, paper goods, hygiene products, small gifts, small kitchen appliances (blender, mixer, etc.) , and any other items you feel can be used. Also ask your church, or work place if they would run a food drive for same. Were also collecting any used unwanted digital camera, video cams and related equipment, for our after school program whereby we are teaching children photography skills. Any questions please call the LHHV office at 814-241-6123
Who remembers this sweet little place?
Does anyone remember or have any info on the Chervenak Bottle Company? My husband's family has ties to it. We have a couple of bottles but I can't find much info about it on the internet.
Frank Pollock and Bob Sharpe.....new them very well.....