Alternate History

Pennsylvania (1983: Doomsday)

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Pennsylvania was one of the founding states of the United States of America. The former British colony joined the union in 1787 as the second colony to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

On Doomsday its two largest cities - Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, along with towns and suburbs in their vicinity - were destroyed by Soviet nuclear strikes. Also destroyed by direct hits were the state capital of Harrisburg, and the cities of Bethlehem, Erie, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre. Allentown was severely damaged by the strike on Bethlehem and abandoned by survivors who fled west and southwest toward Reading. Waynesboro was also damaged due to the strikes on Camp David and the Raven Rock Mountain Complex. Willow Grove had to be abandoned due to the strike on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove. The towns and communities south of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton were evacuated by the few survivors to escape the fallout and radiation. Few survived to see the new year.

It has been believed for years that no life survived in the state, as it was located in the heavily-targeted northeastern section of the U.S.

However, civilian explorers from Vermont and Delmarva, and a military expedition from the Virginian Republic, have independently confirmed the existence of survivors in the following regions:

  • in the eastern part of the state, centered in and around the city of Reading, with survivors stretching as far east as the remains of Allentown
  • in the central part of the state, centered in the town of State College , home of Penn State University, and other survivors in the towns of Altoona, Punxutawney and Franklin,
  • large groups of survivors centered in the Allegheny National Forest and Elk State and Susquehannock State Forests located in the northern portions of Pennsylvania
  • in the southern part of the state, centered in the town of Gettysburg, a small republic holding territories that reach into former Maryland state
  • a group of surviving communities in the northeast part of the former state based around the Susquehanna River and the communities of Bloomsburg and Hazleton

Conversations with leaders in Reading and State College indicated two provisional state governments having been established in the 1980s in both locales, that evolved into two separate governments. Though no formal movement toward a unified government for all of Pennsylvania has been made in years, both locales do have a governor and legislature and a large degree of self-autonomy. There is also debate as to which city is the de facto state capital.

Virginia and Vermont explorers initially confirmed the existence of State College as the new state capitol with leaders of the communities based in and around the forests. However, the explorers were told that the forest communities consider State College to have only the "barest" authority over their affairs and hold St. Mary's - halfway between Allegheny National Forest and the two state forests - as their capital. And, explorers were told Reading was the state capital.

Explorers reported all three regions as having a "steady, functioning, early 20th-century society" with people eager to hear what had happened to the rest of the country, and of the world.

Delmarvan and Virginian explorers found a stable government in the Reading area as well as a "lawless" situation in the Allentown region, which became the destination for gang members and criminals wanting autonomy especially from the Reading government.

For years there was no real single government over eastern Pennsylvania, as numerous gangs and warlords fought for control with surviving police and civic leaders and leaders of the remnants of Pennsylvania National Guard and U.S. Army units. Reading's government controlled the city and surrounding suburbs and towns, and gradually grew its control over the region; it was the largest, and most powerful, government in an area of that had become Balkanized into several dozen regions divided by town, farm, suburb, city block, even railroad track. The "law-abiding" groups led by police and National Guardsmen finally gained a measure of control over the region by 2002, consolidating power in Reading. The Reading government still has to deal with gang leaders who operate out of the remains of Allentown as well as warlords who make ongoing trade and contact with State College next to impossible.

Susquehanna has recently formed after stabilizing the region, and the local communities ended squabbling over supplies and agreed to collaborate in order to survive. They have recently defeated the remaining groups of raiders and gangs that Reading had driven out of Allentown, who took refuge in White Haven. Due to transportation breakdown, and the lack of fuel, contact with State College and Reading has been sporadic and sketchy. Trade is low, but there have been attempts to increase this and secure the interstates between them.

In September of 2011, Reading forces attacked Allentown in an attempt to oust the raider gangs based there. After 34 days of intense urban warfare, the Reading National Guard successfully removed the raiders and absorbed Allentown by installing the pro-Reading Allentown Transitional Council.


There is serious discussion between North Pennsylvania, State College, Reading, and the Commonwealth of Susquehanna over possible reunification. There are many issues to reach a unified Pennsylvania. Some of these problems are agreeing on a capital city, economic differences between the nations, and political issues. State College, Reading, and North Pennsylvania all dispute which of their capital cities (State College, Reading, Warren) should be the capital, while Susquehanna has proposed rebuilding Lewisburg as a new capital due to the relative central location between all the nations.

Economically, North Pennsylvania and State College have similar per capita incomes due to the proximity to Lake Erie and the entire United Communities. Reading has a very strong local economy as well as trade with Delmarva, Gettysburg, Virginia, and Kentucky. Susquehanna is an anomaly due to its late organization. It lacks major trade other than with Reading, State College, and North Pennsylvania. This has led to the local economy being very strong but compared to the rest of the former state, it has a low GDP and per capita GDP.

The last major stumbling block to reunification is the strength of political parties in each nation, as well as local, regional, and national powers in the proposed state and their allocations. State College and large portions of North Pennsylvania tend to be more conservative, while Reading and the more urban areas in North Pennsylvania tend to be more liberal. Susquehanna tends to be relatively even in political strength, though there are several libertarians in the government. Some national leaders do not want their party to lose strength in a unified Pennsylvania.

State College, being the recognized successor state to the Pennsylvania government has leaned towards a more centralized government with limited powers devolved to the other former national governments and they would allot powers to counties or municipalities as seen fit. The other nations dislike the idea of losing a majority of the power inherited by the post-Doomsday chaos, and in Susquehanna some officials are concerned that the democratic efforts made in the government will be ignored.

A proposed middle ground has been a confederation. The central government will have the power to operate a national military, sign treaties, declare war, and monitor the economy while the other regions (possibly called states) will have control of a majority of their domestic policy as well as the ability to maintain relatively large defense forces. there would be a planned General Assembly with temporary allocations from the current political divisions in each nation that would be replaced after a national census would held.

In 2015 leaders from North Pennsylvania, State College, Reading, and Susquehanna agreed to meet in Williamsport in late 2016 to discuss reunification. There are uncertainties of how successful this event will turn out to be, and some commentators believe that the nations have a long way to go before they can be rejoined. Some unofficial communications between the nations have discussed possibly sharing joint embassies in various countries, as well as applying for a joint seat in the League of Nations.


There is much support for reunification by the older populations of all the nations, recalling the glory days of America, and believing Pennsylvania could attain it with unification and work. Many believe that it will improve the economy through the fact that prospective partners will only need to deal with one entity rather than four, as well as increase political clout in the League of Nations and the United Communities. Canada, Toledo, the Republic of New York


The Amish in North Pennsylvania are heavily opposed to a reunified Pennsylvania, claiming Doomsday was God's work and they cannot oppose it. The short lived regime in Warren caused tense relations with other survivor states, but with the new elections, they have improved.

Some Democrats are opposed to reunification, with fears of being dominated by the Republican Party being prevalent. This is due to Republican majorities in North Pennsylvania, Reading, and Susquehanna.


With the destruction of most major cities in the Commonwealth, the demographics changed dramatically.


The former state of Pennsylvania has an estimated population of 1,213,141 in 2010-2015. The majority of the racial category is white European descent due to the destruction of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Harrisburg as well as the chaos in Allentown.

The estimated demographics of the state are:

  • White: 97%
    • White (European Descent): 94%
    • White (Russian Descent):1%
    • White (Hispanic Descent): 1%
    • White (Other): 1%
  • Black: 1%
  • Asian: 1%
  • Other:1%

Overall, the most diverse nation is Reading, while the least diverse is Gettysburg.

Largest Cities

This is a list of the largest cities in the former state of Pennsylvania. The first list is the top five cities prior to Doomsday, while the second is the present list.

Five Largest Cities (1980)

Rank Community Image Population (1980) Classification Area (sq mi) Population Density (/sq mi) County Status
1 Philadelphia 1,688,210 First-Class City 141.6 Philadelphia Destroyed/Abandoned
2 Pittsburgh 423,938 Second-Class City 58.3 Allegheny Destroyed/Abandoned
3 Erie 119,123 Third-Class City 28.0 Erie Destroyed (Being Rebuilt)
4 Allentown 103,758 Third-Class City 18.0 Lehigh Resettled
5 Scranton 88,117 Third-Class City 25.44 Lackawanna Destroyed/Abandoned

Five Largest Communities (2015)

Rank Community Image Population (1980) Population (2015) Classification Area (sq mi) Population Density (/sq mi) County Status
1 Reading 78,688 80,000 First Class City 10.1 7920.79 Berks Capital and Largest city of Reading
2 State College 36,130 45,000 Home Rule Municipality (Borough) 4.5 10000.00 Centre Capital and Largest city of State College
3 Meadville 15,544 35000.00 Borough 4.4 7954.55 Crawford Largest city of North Pennsylvania
4 Gettysburg 7,194 26,000 Borough 1.7 15294.12 Adams Capital and Largest city of Gettysburg
5 Hazleton 27,318 24,197 First Class City 6.0 4032.83 Wyoming Largest city of the Commonwealth of Susquehanna

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