MATAMORAS PA – Depending on the season, hundreds of travelers daily walk past a Pennsylvania State Troopers Association historical monument that pays tribute to fallen troopers individually by name. As of Sunday (Oct. 1, 2023), the last name on that sadly lengthy list remains well known to Trappe PA residents: that of former borough fire chief and Trooper Branden T. Sisca, who died March 21, 2022.
The memorial, dedicated during October 2011, “shares (the) Pennsylvania State Police’s historical significance as the first statewide law enforcement agency in the United States,” according to The Historical Marker Database website. The monument observes its 12th anniversary in public view on Oct. 15 (Sunday).
Sisca, 29, and fellow trooper Martin F. Mack III, were killed in the line of duty as they patrolled Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. They, as well as a man they were attempting to rescue from the highway, died in a vehicular accident. The car’s driver, Jayana Tanae Webb, faces charges of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, DUI, and related offenses.
The monument (above and at top) is designed in a three-panel layout, which prominently sits in a courtyard through which travelers must walk before they reach the Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Matamoras. It’s located 122 miles north of Trappe on Route 209, just 2/10ths of a mile east of Interstate 84.
A roughly 45-mile portion of I-84, from the Lackawanna County line to the Tri-States Monument on the Delaware River – at the intersection of the Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey state borders – also was designated in October 2011 as the “Fallen Trooper Memorial Highway.”
Some Traveled Here Solely to Pay Respects
The memorial’s center panel, in black with gold-colored lettering and trim, bears this inscription:
“Dedicated to the memory of those brave members of the Pennsylvania State Police, the first uniformed state police agency in the nation, who made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives in performance of their duties while protecting the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
“Beyond all earthly sight, forever remembered here and in the hearts of those who continue their legacy.”
Two accompanying panels, one on each side, are blocks designed in the outline of the state. The names and dates of death of the honored are carved into the flat surfaces of both panels. The size and elegance of the memorial frequently prompts visitors to stop and read about its purpose.
Occasionally, a welcome center employee said, some visitors have said they came specifically to see and pay their respects at the site.
On Sunday, just a few paces behind the memorial and before visitors reached the welcome center doors, stood a row of seasonal wild flowers and bright yellow sunflowers (above). It buzzed with activity from many bees, an infrequent butterfly or two, and other pollinators. As the insects searched for sustenance, they also created the possibility of spreading life and growth elsewhere.
Other Memorials to Trooper Sisca
In January 2023, the borough of Trappe announced an accompanying community park and garden named for Sisca would be located behind borough hall. Its development is being funded, in part, by a $450,700 grant obtained with the help of state 146th District Rep. Joe Ciresi. Plans are soon expected to be finalized, borough Manager Marcus Dolny said Monday (Oct. 2).
In late April 2023, Ciresi and state 150th District Rep. Joe Webster were among those who led a ceremony to dedicate a portion of Main Street, between Fifth and Seventh avenues in Trappe, as “the Trooper Branden T. Sisca Memorial Highway.”
During June 2023, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro was on hand to lead in the ceremonial ground-breaking ceremony for a new Trappe Fire Company station to be dedicated in Sisca’s honor.
“The new fire station will be the first built in Trappe since 1911,” the Norristown Times Herald newspaper reported, “to help the volunteer company continue to serve Trappe Borough and Upper Providence Township with a new facility and updated resources.” Dolny noted its plans are awaiting only final permits, with construction to follow.
Things to Know If You Go
Travels With The Post last visited the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association memorial on Sunday as part of a trip that also involved other destinations. Getting there from Pottstown involves a slightly more than 2-1/2-hour drive covering about 110 miles. It can be reached by car using PA Routes 100 and 309, Interstate 78, PA Route 33, and U.S. Route 209.
A significant portion of the drive is on rural highway through well-forested areas. Part of the trip’s charm during early fall is to see the first emergence of leaf color as trees begin to change in Pennsylvania’s northernmost counties. Yellows and reds dominated the scenery framed by car windows.
The memorial entrance is off Route 209 and is well-marked by traffic signage as the “Pennsylvania Welcome Center.” Parking and admission at the monument and the center, which was completed in August 1997, are free. The center itself is filled with travelers’ amenities, and displays providing tourism information about the northern Pocono Mountains region.
All photos and video by Travels With The Post