PENNSYLVANIA—A tragic plane crash and a dramatic mine rescue, a shocking schoolhouse massacre and a breathtaking juvenile justice scandal - not to mention a historic presidential election.
The headlines of the past 10 years were frightening, uplifting and life-changing as Pennsylvanians witnessed lost children found, a landmark evolution debate, and the ka-ching of slot machines throughout the state.
The decade started with the national spotlight on Philadelphia as George W. Bush accepted the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention. A year later, he was thrown into the greatest crisis of his term when terrorists attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.
One hijacked plane, United Flight 93, crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., after passengers revolted against their captors. Bush later tapped Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge as the first U.S. secretary of homeland security.
Western Pennsylvania again riveted the nation's attention in 2002 as rescuers frantically worked to save nine men trapped in the flooded Quecreek coal mine. After 77 hours, all were hoisted to safety.
The cameras returned to focus on the most private of communities in 2006 after a disturbed milk-truck driver burst into an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines and shot 10 girls, five fatally. Charles Carl Roberts IV then killed himself.
A year earlier, a courtroom in Harrisburg hosted one of the biggest clashes between faith and evolution since the Scopes Monkey Trial decades earlier.
This time, evolution won. A federal judge barred the Dover public schools from teaching "intelligent design" in biology class, saying the concept is creationism in disguise.
And in a still-unfolding scandal in Luzerne County, two judges were charged in a cash-for-kids scam in which authorities say they took kickbacks to place teens in juvenile facilities.
The state's economy was forever changed in 2004 after the Legislature approved slot-machine casinos. The first opened near Wilkes-Barre two years later; lawmakers are now considering adding table games.
Gov. Ed Rendell and a 2005 legislative pay-raise debacle shaped politics in Pennsylvania like nothing else during the decade.
Rendell became the first Philadelphian to win the governorship in 88 years in a campaign in which he shattered state fundraising records. Two years later, the Legislature's clandestine vote to fatten their salaries became the catalyst for the ouster of two dozen incumbents and an ongoing corruption probe that has resulted in the arrests of 25 people connected to the House of Representatives.
Pennsylvanians supported the election of Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, in 2008. The commonwealth went Democratic in all three presidential elections this decade, possibly ending its "swing state" status.
Thousands of Pennsylvania troops shipped off to Iraq and Afghanistan in the "war against terror" and al-Qaida. Longtime Democratic Rep. John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran from Johnstown, made waves by calling for soldiers to come home from Iraq in 2005.
In 2006, Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta led a crackdown on illegal immigrants and those who house and employ them. The town's ordinances were later struck down, but Barletta is now making his third bid for Congress.
Pittsburgh hosted the Group of 20 international economic summit in 2009, highlighting its rebound from a struggling former steel city to an incubator for "green" businesses.