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Pennsylvania vs. the world — for Guinness records

Plus, a bird '10 million years in the making.'


October 14, 2022
Inside this edition: God's gift, one in ten million, bigfoot posters, the Pocono Alps, print runs, fat bears, and Pennsylvania vs. everyone else.

True or false: A doomsday group gave 600 acres in Pennsylvania to God. The land was later repossessed because God did not pay the taxes.

(Keep scrolling for the answer, but don't miss all the good stuff in between. Like what you read? Forward this email to a friend.)

» One thing worth knowing: What do you get when you cross a female rose-breasted grosbeak with a male scarlet tanager in the woods of Western Pennsylvania? A baby 10 million years in the making.

» One thing worth sharing: Official-looking bigfoot encounter warnings posted in the woods of Pennsylvania are indeed fakes, PennLive reports. The state agency named on the fliers says "bigfoot isn't real."

» One place worth seeing: Carbon County's Jim Thorpe is located in the foothills of Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains and has been called the "Switzerland of America." Travel + Leisure magazine explains why

» One thing worth reading: Production and ad staff at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are on strike. NEXTPittsburgh columnist Andrew Conte wonders if this could signal the end of the city's waning print era.

» One thing worth (not) doing: It's Fat Bear Season in Pennsylvania, too, and experts say "the vacuum cleaners of the forest" need space as they stock up and prepare to hibernate, York Dispatch reports. 

» COVID-19 UPDATE: Your guide to finding resources on cases, vaccines, and tests

» Abortion clinics unlikely to expand despite demand
» Mapping the donors in Pa.'s pivotal governor's race
» Watch a free virtual panel on the governor's race
» Lawsuit set to improve court records access in York Co.
» Penn State wavers on key racial justice commitment
» Why a $7M salary isn't on Penn State's highest-paid list
» How we tracked medical marijuana workplace lawsuits

🗳 Spotlight PA's 2022 election coverage:

Read our complete coverage, plus key dates, campaign finance data, sample ballots & more at our Election Center 2022 website.

Spotlight on the Issues: Where Mastriano and Shapiro stand on...

»  Abortion, Medicaid, & Opioids
»  College Funding & Student Debt
»  Energy & Environment
»  Crime & Justice
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More issue analyses will be published in the coming weeks. 

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»  No constitutional amendments on the ballot, but big ones loom
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»  How Spotlight PA will cover Pennsylvania's 2022 election

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Pennsylvania is now officially home to the largest bobblehead in the world (pictured above), and while awash in a fresh wave of civic pride, courtesy of the 16-foot bargain outlet idol, I got to thinking:

What other world records — cringey, cool, or completely underwhelming — can we claim?  

Well, the folks at Guinness World Records sent a superlative-heavy list, and it is … something. 

Over the years, the birthplace of American democracy has also claimed the largest collection of tea bag labels, the fastest one-handed egg crack, the tallest object balanced on a chin, the largest collection of Futurama memorabilia, and “the most people flapping simultaneously.” 

There are many more, some genuinely impressive. Here’s a sampling. 

🏆 Most descendants

At the time of his death on Oct. 15, 1992, Samuel S. Mast, a 96-year-old from Fryburg in Clarion County, had 824 living descendants.

Guinness tallied 11 children, 97 grandchildren, 634 great-grandchildren, and 82 great-great-grandchildren.

🏆 Longest residency

Florence Knapp, a Montgomery County suffragette, lived in the same house for 110 years, earning her the record for the longest time under one roof.

Knapp lived to be 114 and was dubbed the world’s oldest person two weeks before her death.

“I don't think the world has changed much at all,” Knapp told UPI in 1986.

🏆 Longest distance

Stanley Rychlicki walked a lot for his job as a pipeline inspector, covering 136,887.02 miles — that’s more than halfway to the moon — over 37 years. It earned him the record for "longest distance walked during a career."

Sometimes he walked in excess of 20 miles per day, Guinness reports. 

"My first hike was over the Appalachian Mountains," Rychlicki, a Nanticoke native, told the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper in 2014.

🏆 Longest letter

The "longest ever letter to an editor" was published by The Upper Dauphin Sentinel newspaper in Dauphin County in 1979.

The letter, written by John Sultzbaugh of Lykens, was 25,513 words long and had to be printed over eight issues of the paper.

🏆 Fastest ball

The "fastest ping pong ball" was shot from a cannon built by a Boeing engineer named Mike Aesoph in Uniontown on Dec. 13, 2021.

Here's video of the testing phase.

The ball traveled 1,126.1 meters per second or 2,519 miles per hour. 

🏆 Biggest board

The Guinness record for "largest Ouija board" went to the 1,302.54 ft² version atop the Grand Midway Hotel in Windber, Somerset County, a nod to the former brothel’s haunted reputation, Guinness says. 

A challenger emerged in Salem, Massachusetts, but that Ouija board included paid advertisements, and the Grand Midway’s owner, Blair Murphy, told the Inquirer in 2019 that “Guinness is a real stickler.”

🏆 Oldest movies

The record for "oldest still-operating drive-in movie theater" belongs to Shankweiler's Drive-In Theater in Orefield, Lehigh County.

It opened in 1934, at the height of the Great Depression, and less than a year after the world's first drive-in popped up in Camden, New Jersey.

Shankweiler's is still around today.

Pennsylvania also held the record for the smallest drive-in cinema.

🏆 Most skips

The most consecutive skips of a stone on water is 88 and was achieved by Kurt Steiner of Emporium at Red Bridge, near Kane, in 2013.

You may recall that we wrote about Steiner and competitive stone skipping in this newsletter a few months back.

Browse more Pennsylvania world records here.

Colin Deppen, PA Local editor

Over the Lehigh River on the Appalachian Trail, via Daniel M. Send us your photos, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.

It's true: After creating a religious community called Celestia near Laporte, Sullivan County, in 1850, Peter E. Armstrong gifted 600 acres to God

From the state's official historical marker

Because of the "owner's" nonpayment of taxes, the county sold the land in 1876 to A.T. Armstrong, Peter's son. Peter Armstrong himself struggled to continue the community before he died in 1887.

Thanks for reading PA Local! We'll see you back here next week. But first ... send us your feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? 

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