State Historical Marker in Home, PA
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
approved Jim Cahalan's proposal for a state
historical marker commemorating Edward Abbey in Home,
Pennsylvania, nearby where Ed grew up. They turn down more such
proposals than they approve, but several strong letters of
support (including one from Robert Redford, and another by Kirk
Douglas from the LA TIMES in 1989) helped win their approval.
The cost of the sign, $1,250, was raised privately and the
marker was dedicated on Saturday September 28th 1996, with about
100 people attending the sign's unveiling followed by a luncheon
and program at the nearby Rocky Glen Inn. The program of speakers
included Nancy Abbey, Ed's sister, who flew in from Santa Cruz,
California for the event. Ed's two other surviving siblings,
Howard and Bill, were also on hand, as were Iva Abbey (Howard's
wife) and quite a few other Abbey relatives and friends. Despite
a torrential downpour (the kind of too typical Western
Pennsylvania weather that drove Ed Abbey to the sunny West), all
came off in good order, and everyone seemed to have a great time.
For anyone heading that way who may want to see the marker,
it's adjacent to the Home village marker on Route 119 about 10
miles north of the larger town of Indiana (which is 55 miles
northeast of Pittsburgh).
Above you can see what the marker looks like. The text on the
and defender of wilderness,
most famous for his two books Desert
Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench
Born in Indiana, Pa., in 1927, Abbey grew
up in and around the village of Home.
Although he moved to the western U.S.
in 1948, books such as Appalachian
Wilderness, The Journey Home,
Fool's Progress describe his native
county, where he learned to love nature.
Abbey died in Tucson, Arizona, in 1989.
PENNSYLVANIA HISTORICAL AND MUSEUM
Thanks to all of you who helped raising the funds for this
marker, with special thanks to Dan Spomer and Eric Temple whose
contributions were especially generous, and many thanks to Jim
Cahalan for putting a lot of work and heart into this
A replica of the state historical
marker, in the form of a magnet suitable for the front of
your refrigerator, is now available for $2 apiece including
first-class mailing from Back of
Beyond Books in Moab, Utah, the best source for
reasonably priced Abbey books, videos, and memorabilia. Call
Josť Knighton (a published poet and friend of Ed) there at
1-800-700-2859. You can read more about these magnets at the manufacturers
Now to those of you who recall Henry Lightcap blowing up
his refrigerator at the beginning of The Fool's Progress, let me
remind you that Ed himself sang the praises of the
refrigerator in Desert Solitaire:
"The refrigerator...is a useful machine....It is
in fact one of the few positive contributions of
scientific technology to civilization and I am grateful
for it....Every time I drop a couple of ice cubes into a
glass I think with favor of all the iron and coal miners,
bargemen, railroaders, steelworkers, technicians,
designers, factory assemblers, wholesalers, truckdrivers,
and retailers who have combined their labors (often quite
taxing) to provide me with this simple but pleasant
convenience, without which the highball or the Cuba
libre would be poor things indeed."
So I think Ed would feel at home on the front of your
refrigerator. If you can't come see the historical marker,
then bring it to your own kitchen. Enjoy!
- January 3, 1996
To the members of the Pennsylvania
Historical Marker Commission:
I am writing to voice my support for the proposed
State Historical Marker for Edward Abbey in Home, where
he grew up and discovered his love for nature. I have
been an admirer of Abbey's work for many years, and had
the pleasure of knowing him.
Since the 1950's, Edward Abbey has been recognized as
an accomplished novelist and essayist as well as a key
voice in the struggle to defend wilderness from the
continual onslaught of "progress". Through his
work, he has positively influenced many to not only
treasure our natural heritage but to fight for its
preservation as well.
After spending his childhood in Indiana County, Abbey
lived in many different places in the West and he was
laid to rest at an unknown site somewhere in the desert.
He certainly deserves commemoration in the form of a
historical marker in the area where he grew up and often
wrote about in such works as Jonathan Troy and The
Fool's Progress. I hope that you will give the
proposal the benefit of your full consideration, and I
will look forward to learning the outcome.
This letter was supplied by Jim
Cahalan, Professor of English at Indiana University of
Pennsylvania and appears here with Mr. Redford's permission.
More Abbey books!
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