Penn College History Trail

Pennsylvania College of Technology
Williamsport, PA

The Pennsylvania College of Technology History Trail is a walking path around the college’s main campus punctuated by 17 informational kiosks. Installed in 2013, as the college prepared to celebrate its centennial the following year, the trail illustrates the evolution of the college, the community and the local economy.

In the past, the 130-acre Williamsport campus was occupied by a local high school, manufacturing plants, and other businesses. Penn College became an affiliate of Penn State in 1989 after establishing a national reputation for education supporting workforce development, first as a technical institute and later as a community college. Those connections are rekindled through the History Trail, with reminders of busy railroads, lumber-related industries, and city trolley cars that ran through a campus today filled with modern buildings and landscaped green spaces. Placed outside key campus landmarks, the kiosks detail how the construction of each facility impacted the institution. Through text and photos they show the sites’ former and current uses, namesakes, and significant events that occurred within.

In part, the History Trail aims to connect the campus community with the institution’s rich history while fostering pride in its heritage. Additionally, this project seeks to help the surrounding region celebrate the unique historical connection among education, industry, and community in Williamsport.

Social awareness and diversity are qualities Penn College has sought to embrace. Among its first students were those facing challenges: veterans returning from World War I, those who lost jobs during the Depression, and those who were disabled. Founders of the college worked to meet their needs by developing diagnostic programs to assess student’s abilities and working with local industry to determine the skills needed for open positions. By matching glimpses of the past with snapshots of the continued vitality within today’s campus structures, the History Trail places these long-held principles in context. That perspective hopes to inspire an understanding of the mission that will help lead the college in the next century.