What does the groundhog say?

Please be sure to check out the February program listings to find your favorite Trails of History site.

So, Groundhog Day (#GHD130) was Tuesday. You've probably heard what Punxsutawney Phil had to say, since he has a robust media operation. Lancaster County's Octoraro Orphie agreed with Phil that we should look for an early spring (they don't always agree). That's a good thing, in my opinion, since Winter Storm Jonas brought Lancaster County (where I live) all of its average yearly snowfall in one fell swoop (or swell foop, as one of my grandfathers used to say).

The folks at Somerset Historical Center had to delay their 18th-century cap workshop by a week due to the storm, but a small group gathered last Saturday to learn hand-sewing techniques while making an authentic cap. SHC will offer a tole painting workshop on Feb. 20, a pysanky egg workshop on March 19, and a weekend-long coopering workshop starting April 29.

(Top) Workshop participants making progress on their caps (photo courtesy of Elyse Bennett)
(Bottom) A finished cap by one of the attendees (photo courtesy of Linda Marker)

This week marked the centennial of the Commonwealth of PA's acquisition of the property we now know as Old Economy Village. As the result of a court case, the land and buildings that comprise the historic site were awarded to Pennsylvania on Feb. 3, 1916. It was, in fact, the first historic site to come under the direct ownership of the state and opened to the public in 1921. There will be commemorative programs throughout the year and you can follow Old Economy on Facebook to learn "100 facts for 100 years." State Rep. Rob Matzie, whose legislative district includes Old Economy Village, sponsored a resolution in the General Assembly to honor the occasion. (UPDATE: The Beaver County Times online has a nice article about the event.)

Well, they called that one right!

You'll find the January program page has some updated info. The February listings are up now, too, and I'll update them as info comes my way during the month..

In last week's post, I posed a question about whether the forecast snowstorm would be historic or a bust (I also misspelled "snowmageddon"). After closing Trails of History sites in the lower part of the state for the weekend and into the early part of this week, I think we know the answer. #Snowmageddon indeed.

Our offices in Harrisburg were closed Monday and Tuesday, so I am still playing catch-up. As I am prone to doing, I've trolled Facebook to glean some items of interest that I will share with you now. Starting with some lovely photos of snow.

(Top) Pennsbury Manor
(Middle) Somerset Historical Center
(Bottom trio) Washington Crossing Historic Park


Despite some snow (though not the "apocalyptic" (too much?) amounts we got in some parts of the state), the Knox Mine Disaster commemoration went on as planned at the Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton. They had good attendance and honored both those lost and those who survived (read more in this Citizens Voice article). In other Scranton news, the Scranton Iron Furnaces received a 2015 Happie Award from Happenings Magazine (Northeast PA) for Best Event Venue (they host numerous arts and cultural events each year).

Voting has opened for the 2016 Montgomery County Happenings List, and both Graeme Park and Hope Lodge are candidates for best historic spot (vote on the digital magazine's website). I mentioned last week that Washington Crossing Historic Park is in the running for the Bucks County Happening List in two categories, best historic spot and best scenic view (Bowman's Hill Tower).

This week's "PA Treasures" features a telescope that belonged to Dr. Joseph Priestley and is included in the State Museum's "PA Icons" exhibit. As you know, Dr. Priestley's American home and laboratory are part of the Trails of History.

Will it be Snowmaggedon or Snownevermind?

As I write this on Wed., Jan. 20, the forecasters are duking it out over which model will accurately predict the weather for this coming weekend. None of them look too good, unless you like shoveling snow. Alot. There are events scheduled for the Trails of History this weekend (check the program page), but as I always suggest, please check ahead to be sure the site you want to visit is open. The Somerset Historical Center's 18th-century cap workshop has been rescheduled from Jan. 23 to Jan. 30. UPDATE: The State Museum of PA, Cornwall Iron Furnace, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Railroad Museum of PA, Somerset Historical Center, and Ephrata Cloister have announced they will be closed on Saturday, Jan. 23. Sunday schedules TBD.



One of the events scheduled for tomorrow (Jan. 23) is the Anthracite Heritage Museum's annual commemoration of the Knox Mine Disaster. Sunday, Jan. 24, is the snow date, but I would watch the museum's Facebook page for updates or call (570/963-4804) if the storm doesn't turn out to be a fizzle. If you're interested in mining history, you might want to learn about other events that have been going on during Mining History Month or check out an upcoming program on PBS's American Experience series, The Mine Wars, which explores coal mining in southern West Virginia in the early 20th century. (UPDATE: If you missed the broadcast, you can stream it for free for the next month via PBS.)

The Uncovering PA blog, written by Jim Cheney, recently featured a post about Jim's summer visit to the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. Uncovering PA often includes info on the PA Trails of History.

If you know of a college or graduate student looking for a summer internship in the museum or archives field, it's not too late for them to apply to PHMC's Keystone Internship Program. Applicants can indicate the subject area or type of professional experience they're interested in and designate up to 3 possible internship locations, including PHMC historic sites and museums around the state or any of the Harrisburg operations (State Museum, State Archives, State Historic Preservation Office, etc.). Application instructions and materials are on the website; deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 12.

Ephrata Cloister's annual Winter History Class started yesterday (Jan. 21) but there's still plenty of time to attend. Weekly sessions continue every Thursday through March 17 and then there is a field trip on March 31. Details and info on registering are on Facebook.

Washington Crossing Historic Park is in the running for Best Historic Spot and Best Scenic View (Bowman's Hill Tower) in the 2016 Bucks County Happening List voting. Help them win again as they have in the past (historic spot voting site and scenic view voting site).

Wednesday, Jan. 20, was #MuseumSelfieDay worldwide and many people on the Trails of History took part. I'm sharing my fave below; check out @PHMC's Storify summary of tweets from the Trails of History to see more.

Mike and Trisha Berberich at PA Lumber Museum with a friend

And if all this talk of winter makes you long for spring...

The Heirloom Seed Project at Landis Valley is already getting plants started