Thank you for providing a fine forum for those of us who value self-reliance and preparedness.
My current professional situation requires that we live in a notoriously liberal city in the northern People's Republic of Kalifornia. My wife and I laugh frequently at being the true minorities in our city - an independent Christian family with children where the father is a net provider of jobs. We are working actively on a relocation plan and hope for implementation within a few years.
Pennsylvania is a state which may not appear interesting when considered in the aggregate, as the statistics are skewed heavily by the major cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Additionally, statistical analysis might overlook some of the favorable cultural aspects of the central portions of the state. Income taxes are low, and education can be good.
Pennsylvania can be divided culturally into thirds. The Philadelphia area in the far east of the state is an urban liberal cousin of New York and Boston. In the far western portion of the state Pittsburgh is a mid-western city having more in common with Cleveland and Cincinnati than Philadelphia. The middle third of the state and the northern region might be worth examining for those with strong family ties in the northeast. It is the geography and culture of this region which makes its retreat potential interesting.
The Klintonian Democrat James Carville labeled the northern and central portions of the state 'Alabama;' it is not Bill & Hillary country. Others have referred to it as 'Pennsyltucky,' a reference to the more conservative hard-working folks who populate the farms, mountains, and small towns of the region. In the book On The Road, the beatnik poet Jack Kerouac called this area the last great eastern wilderness.
The region is comprised of low gently rolling wooded ranges of the Appalachian Mountains, somewhat similar to sections of the coast ranges of Oregon. There is plentiful surface water and springs, and dry-farming can yield quite a lot per acre in the right regions. The untilled land is rich in firewood, game, and fish in the streams. Rather than relying on the vast distances of the American west for protection from urban hordes, the region contains pockets of topography - combinations of mountains, forests, and streams - that create challenging access for non-locals and very defensible sites for the natives. Nonetheless, Pennsylvania is a large eastern state with many lightly populated rural counties well removed from major highways. Locals may rely upon game trails over the mountains rather than the small country roads around them. Bad weather, cold winters with snow are additional factors limiting access.
A large portion of the population in the central and northern portion of the state hunts and fishes. The first day of hunting season and trout season will see some schools closed and others missing quite a few children. This is a part of the world where youngsters learn early the stories of woodsman and sharpshooters who fought Hessian mercenaries and British redcoats using the advantages of marksmanship and terrain. Daniel Boone lived here and walked to Kentucky with his PENNSYLVANIA rifle, perhaps the first American sniper weapon. The folks live a self-reliant lifestyle which is steeped in outdoor survival skills. It's a land of self-help and good neighbors, not welfare handouts and intrusive government. Growing up, our farm was part of a small group of farms contained in the bend of a small river and enclosed by the mountains of state game lands and forests. Access was via one of two small roads easily monitored. The hilly nature of the country provided numerous opportunities for tactical advantage. For now, I'll omit naming specific counties and towns.
While the region is not favorably located for the ultimate nuclear TEOTWAWKI scenario, for us a chance to be close to loved ones and to have children learn from their grandparents as well as from us will likely outweigh this factor. Keep up the good work, we appreciate your efforts. - A Mountain Yankee Waiting to Go Home
JWR Adds: Boston T. Party's ranking (in Boston's Gun Bible) for Pennsylvania on firearms freedom is 61%.