Teach PA History
Explore PA History
Site and situation: Right Place at the Right Time
What to Know
Teaching Time
Two or three 50-minute class periods
Grade Level
Middle School
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • History
Historical Period
  • Expansion and Reform - 1801-1855
  • Civil War and Reconstruction - 1856-1876
  • Development of the Industrial Pennsylvania - 1877-1900
  • The Emergence of Modern Pennsylvania - 1901-1928
  • The Great Depression and World War II - 1929-1945
  • Post-WWII Pennsylvania - 1946-1974
Choosing the correct site for the location of a settlement or manufacturing facility can be crucial to the success of the venture. This lesson leads students through the process of using maps to evaluate the site and situation for the location of the Pennsylvania Railroad shops. Students will also evaluate the success of the selection by analyzing growth of population and manufacturing in the city of Altoona, Pennsylvania and the surrounding region. Further evaluation will be made of changes that have occurred with the pullback and abandonment of the railroads.


Students will: 1. Recognize the importance of site and situation in selecting the location of settlements and manufacturing sites. 2. Identify various physical conditions and situational advantages that influence site selection. 3. Evaluate the effects of changing situations as they relate to site selection particularly in regard to changes in transportation. 4. Analyze maps to determine the best site for settlement and manufacturing. 5. Analyze demographic trends using graphs. 6. Explain how a change in the "situation" of a location could have positive or negative effects on the chosen site. 7. Evaluate the effect of the initial expansion and then ultimate pullback of the railroad on Altoona and the surrounding region.

Standards Alignment

  • Economics

    6.1.6. D. Explain the importance of expansion and contraction on individual businesses.
    6.4.6. D. Explain how the locations of resources, transportation and communication networks and technology have affected Pennsylvania economic patterns.

  • Geography

    7.1.9. B. Explain and locate places and regions.
    7.2.6. A. Describe physical characteristics of places and regions.
    7.3.6. A. Describe the human characteristics of places and regions by their population characteristics.
    7.3.6. C. Describe the human characteristics of places and regions by their settlement characteristics.
    7.3.6.D. Describe the human characteristics of places and regions by their economic activities.

  • History

    8.1.9. A. Analyze chronological thinking.
    8.1.9. B. Analyze and interpret historical sources.
    8.1.9. C. Analyze the fundamentals of historical interpretation.
    8.1.9. D. Analyze and interpret historical research using primary sources.

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