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    A keystone is a central wedge in an arch that locks all other pieces of an arch in place. It is the part of an arch that all other parts depend upon.

    Pennsylvania's popular nickname, "The Keystone State," refers to this necessary element. Like most nicknames, it is not known, for certain, where this name originated, but there are a few interesting thoughts about how this nickname came to be. They are all based on the theme of the necessity of a keystone in a supporting structure.

    In the vote for independence, nine delegates to the Continental Congress were from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It's said that the Pennsylvania delegation was split; four for independence and four against. The deciding vote fell to John Morton.... who voted for independence. Pennsylvania's vote for independence was noted as the keystone vote; the supporting vote for a new government.

    When the government was moved to Washington, D.C., a bridge was built over Rock Creek to Georgetown. This bridge was the Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge. Pennsylvania's initials were carved into the "keystone" of the arch supporting the bridge.

    Another explanation has it that Pennsylvania's geographic location, among the original thirteen colonies, was the basis for this nickname.

    Though the nickname's origin is unknown, it's certain that it was in use around, or shortly after, 1800. It's reported that Pennsylvania was toasted as "...the keystone of the federal union" at a Republican presidential victory rally for Thomas Jefferson in 1802. Regardless of its origin, the nickname has come to represent Pennsylvania's geographic, economic, social and political impact on development of the United States.

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