Think national parks, and Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Everglades come to mind.

But Pennsylvania has a baker’s dozen of national parks and historic sites, including Steamtown National Historic Site, Delaware Water Gap, Valley Forge and Hopewell Furnace within a drive of two hours from Hazleton.

Within Pennsylvania, national parks and historic sites drew 9.7 million visitors last year, a new study by the National Park Service found.

They spent $467 million, mainly on lodging, food and drink, and supported 7,381 jobs.

I’ve hiked at Water Gap, visited Steamtown and walked around Washington’s encampment at Valley Forge and Edgar Allan Poe’s home in Philadelphia.

All I knew of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish officer and engineer who fortified West Point and helped lead American forces in the war of independence, was that Hazleton has a club named for him. His house in Philadelphia is a national historic site.

Other spots to check include Fort Necessity, where the French and Indian War began, and Friendship Hill, home of Albert Gallatin, who helped reduce the national debt but also purchase the Louisiana Territory as secretary of the treasury. Both are in Southwest Pennsylvania.

There are memorials to Flight 93 and the Johnstown flood of 1889.

For a more traditional national park experience of hiking, fishing, camping or boating check out the Upper Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River. Trails and access points are in Pennsylvania and New York.

Here’s a list of visitors and money spent at national parks and sites in Pennsylvania:

  • Allegheny Portage RR 189,048 visitors; $11.1 million
  • Delaware Water Gap 3.2 million visitors; $113.2 million
  • Flight 93 Memorial 381,448 visitors; $22.5 million
  • Fort Necessity 280,971 visitors; $16.5 million
  • Friendship Hill 41,678 visitors; $2.4 million
  • Hopewell Furnace 46,407 visitors; $2.7 million
  • Independence Hall 4.5 million visitors; $270.2 million
  • Johnstown Flood Memorial 146,269 visitors; $9.1 million
  • Kosciuszko House 2,077 visitors; $123,000
  • Poe House 16,314 visitors; $963,000
  • Steamtown 97,949 visitors; $5.3 million
  • Upper Delaware River 220,965 visitors; $9.8 million
  • Valley Forge 1.8 m visitors; $24,097,000

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