Indiana County, for a small town, has all its residents can ask for. An hour’s drive east of Pittsburgh, the area has a long history that predates written, European documentation, a university and coal industry that has allowed for cultural diversity, a sturdy infrastructure and social services network, thousands of acres of parks and recreation, historic railway and canal systems, Amish country, and traditional fairs and festivals.
The rich architecture in the area suggests an attention to detail, financial sustenance, and a cultural awareness. The churches, town halls, homes, and historic episodes in the area denote a complexity of unity, community, and time-honored traditions.
Though there have only been a few residents who have earned national prominence, one has become the face (and voice) of the town, Jimmy Stewart. And, because of the significance of his movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, and the fact that there are over eighty Christmas tree farms that annually harvest 500,000 trees, Indiana County identifies its self as the ‘Christmas Tree Capitol of the World’.
As we still continue to unearth stories of people of all races and religions in the region, Indiana County’s documented history and oral traditions cultivate an entertaining and dynamic history.
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Spencer Sadler is a history buff, and Mike Rieg is a history teacher for the Indiana Area Public Schools. A local freelance writer for local papers with two previous books, Sadler called on the help of one of his former teachers who sparked his interests in bygone eras, Rieg, to assist with the immense amount of legwork necessary for this project, finding old photos, taking new photos, and sifting through volumes of historical materials.