Pennsylvania Symbols



Pennsylvania, being one of the oldest states in the US, has had a great amount of time to build up a vast and fascinating lexicon of symbols. Ranging from its elaborate crest to its various official flora, fauna, and objects, Pennsylvania's symbols are diverse and meaningful.

The coat of arms of Pennsylvania, which is also the central aspect of its flag, represents Pennsylvania's culture in multiple respects. The shield depicts a ship, a plow, and wheat sheaves, showcasing the importance of commerce, agriculture, and labor to Pennsylvania. The bearers are the draft horses that are the pride of the state, and the crest is a bald eagle, showing Pennsylvania's loyalty to the United States. Flanking the coat of arms are a sheath of corn and an olive branch, symbolizing the state's past and its hopes for a peaceful future. Underneath is the state motto - "Virtue, Liberty, and Independence". The state seal uses a modified version of this crest, rendering the shield in a more traditional shape and simplifying the other elements.

Interestingly, in addition to a normal repertoire of official flora and fauna, Pennsylvania also has an official steam locomotive, electric locomotive, and ship. The trains are both older but still preserved locomotives that used to run across Pennsylvania, and the electric locomotive represents the first of its kind to run in Pennsylvania. The ship, the USS Brig Niagara, was one of the flagships of the US Navy during the War of 1812, and remains preserved and on display to this day. These symbols of Pennsylvania's past are of course dear to the state.

The amount of flora and fauna claimed by Pennsylvania as state symbols is great. The state animal is the white-tailed deer, making sense given the amount of forests present in the state. The state flower is the beautiful mountain laurel, which grows across the Eastern US. Its official insect is the brilliantly-glowing Pennsylvania firefly. In general, the list of things chosen by Pennsylvania as state symbols represent well the lush natural landscape of the state and the diversity of the plants and animals present.

Pennsylvania, as one of the oldest states in America, has a rich, deep history - and its natural landscape is stunning. These things together combine to lead to a beautiful, complex language of iconography and symbolism.