Book and double CD set. Essays and songs by Van Wagner. Cover layout and photography by Sarah Nevin.


Visit the Van Wagner Store to purchase this book and CD set.


Born in Pennsylvania
Lives in Pennsylvania
Makes music
Mined coal
Logged trees
Teaches kids

That about sums up this project. I am very passionate about Pennsylvania heritage. This
is manifested through my music in several ways. Some of my songs are written to paint
a picture of life in a historical period, for example Bootleg Miner or Crosscut Saw. Other
songs I write call for modern conservation of our heritage, both rural and industrial for
example Leave My Town Alone or Ballad of a Broken Man.
I don’t set out to write political songs.

I am simply expressing my passion for Pennsylvania’s heritage
and at the same time lamenting its disappearance.
It is my hope to both educate and provoke action in my listeners. It’s important to re-
search and learn about Pennsylvania history. It is even more import to act to save our his-
tory. I hope this collection of research and music will do both; educate and inspire action
on your part.

Van Wagner



Introduction 9

Chapter 1 - Frontier: Virgin Land 11
Essay: What Once Was: The Ecological History of PA 12
Essay: History of Buffalo in Pennsylvania by Watershed 14
Song: Forgotten Except by the Land 18
Song: Shikellamy 19

Chapter 2 - Farming: Historical & Modern 21
Song: Smokeless Joe 22
Song: Talking Progress Blues 23
Song: Leave My Town Alone 24
Essay: Expansion Benefits Everyone 26
Song: Small Town America 27

Chapter 3 - Logging: Historical & Modern 29
Essay: Log Rafting on the North Branch Susquehanna River 30
Essay: The Story of the Montour Log Raft 34
Photos: Logging Remains in Present Day PA 53
Song: Crosscut Saw 55
Song: We Can’t Be Free (More, More, More) 56
Song: Days Just Like Today (a day in the woods with Bill Bailey) 57
Essay: My Time in the Idaho Timber 58
Song: The Winds of Idaho 63

Chapter 4 - Coal: Historical & Modern 65
Essay: My Time with R&R Coal 66
Song: Hard Coal 72
Song: Lattimer Massacre 73
Song: Bootleg Miner 74
Song: Miner’s Wife 75
Song: Hard Coal, Hard Times 76
Photos: Coal Mining Remains in Present Day PA 77
Essay: The Jerseytown Coal Mine (McMichael Coal) 82

Chapter 5 - Iron: Historical & Modern Manufacturing in PA 87
Essay: The Ore of Montour 88
Song: Words of the Miners Who Worked Montour Ridge 93
Essay: Liberty Furnace: The Forgotten Furnace of Liberty Township, PA 94
Photos: Iron Mining Remains in Present Day PA 96
Song: Rust Belt 97
Song: Battle Cry of Freedom Part II 98
Essay: Danville Charcoal, Danville, Pennsylvania 100
Essay: Fire in the Hole! 104
Essay: We Vote with our Dollar 106
Song: Ballad of a Broken Man 107

Chapter 6 - Cultural Regions of Pennsylvania 109
Song: Churches and Bars 110
Song: North of 80 111
Song: Talking Hegins Pigeon Shoot Blues 112
Song: Madiburg Rootbeer 113
Song: Spares and Strikes 114

Chapter 7 - Special Tribute to Danville 117
Song: Hometown 118
Song: The Fire 119
Song: Going Back to Bald Top Mountain 120
Song: Green Bridge 121

Appendix 123
References 124
Photo Credits 127


Disc 1

Forgotten Except by the Land (Be A Tree)      

Shikellamy   (Shikellamy)     

Smokeless Joe (never before released version)

Talking Progress  (Going back to Bald top)         

Leave My Town Alone  (Alone)        

Small Town America (Be a tree)     

Crosscut Saw (only passing through)

We Can’t Be Free (More, More, More)    (Alone)

Days Just Like Today (going back to bald top)

The Winds of Idaho  (Pickle Barrel)      

Hard Coal (If Time Could Stand Alone)

Lattimer Massacre   (never before released version)        

Bootleg Miner     (North of 80)    

Miner’s Wife   (Alone)         

Hard Coal, Hard Times   (Shikelllamy)


Disc 2


Words of the Miners Who Worked Montour Ridge (Going back to bald top)

Rust Belt    (Shikellamy)      

Battle Cry of Freedom Part II  (Walking the streets)       

Ballad of a Broken Man   (If time could stand alone)       

Churches and Bars (If time could stand alone)

North of 80 (North of 80)

Talking Hegins Pigeon Shoot Blues (If time could stand alone)

Madiburg Rootbeer (walking the streets)

Spares and Strikes (north of 80)

Hometown (pickle barrel)

The Fire ((alone)

Going Back to Bald Top (going back to bald top)

Green Bridge  (walking the streets)