Change of Seasons

The October program page has info on events coming up this weekend and beyond.

Despite recent weather that has alternated between fall and summer, there are actually a few signs of impending winter on the Trails of History. As we move into late fall, we see evidence of the passing year as some sites prepare for cold weather and/or reduced hours.

Olin engine exhibit at Drake Well
The Olin engine at Drake Well Museum and Park powers oil field equipment on the museum grounds. It will start its long winter's nap on Oct. 23. (photo Drake Well Museum)
At Drake Well Museum and Park, the oil field machinery on the grounds operates from late spring to late fall. This coming Sunday, Oct. 22, is the last day of the year that the Replica (of Col. Drake's oil derrick) and the Olin engine will be running. The site remains open throughout the year, so there's plenty to see. Weather permitting, Engine Start-Up is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, 2018.

It is also worth noting that some sites are closed to the public during the winter, except by appointment or for special events. Bushy Run Battlefield wraps up its regular visitation season on Sunday, Oct. 29, although there are a couple of special events planned in November and December. Joseph Priestley House will finish its 2017 season on Sunday, Nov. 19, and remain closed (with the exception of their Twelfth Night program in January) until Charter Day (March 11, 2018). There will be some other winter closings that kick in after the new year, but we'll update you on that later.

Frequent guest blogger Linda Bolla from the Erie Maritime Museum sent along this update about the U.S. Brig Niagara's preparations for winter:

Downrigging Niagara using block and tackle
Niagara crew using block and tackle to lower the fore topgallant mast (photo L. Bolla)
"Looking back on the past two weeks, Niagara rigging down for the winter offers some interesting contrasts. On one hand, we’ve had many opportunities to witness work being done as it might have been 200 years ago, using muscle and mechanical advantage (see above). Upper masts were sent down with the aid of the capstan, and block and tackle. Less than two weeks later, that same capstan, along with anchors, deck boxes and the main mast, was removed using a modern heavy crane (below)."

Crane used to remove main mast (photo Marcus Masternak)

USMC promotion ceremony onboard Niagara
"All work stopped, however, as U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Charles Bays was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant in a brief ceremony onboard Niagara on October 6th." (photo L Bolla)

Not Unlucky At All

Check the October program page for info on upcoming events!

So, this is the first Friday the 13th we've had since January - some years we have more, but this year, just the two. And not another one until April. So, could be worse, I guess. Easy for me to say.

Fall programming is continuing apace and sites are sharing photos and info, so I've selected some to pass along.

Bushy Run path Fall 2017
Bushy Run Battlefield (via Facebook)
Bushy Run Battlefield's museum facilitator reports: "Our Fall Nature Walk [Sept. 30] was a large success with about 30 adults and children joining our volunteers Bob Learzaf and Dave Browning for a walk through the woods and trails. Bob and Dave took them on a two-hour walk and identified many of the native plants we have at Bushy Run." The sold-out Fall Tea last weekend featured a talk on colonial herbal practices by Lori Lazar of Hedge Witch Apothecary (photos on FB). And due to high demand, the Haunted History Hayride on Oct. 21 has already sold out for this year. Although the site closes Oct. 29 for regular visitation (reopening in the spring), there are still two special events on the schedule (check Facebook page for details).

Bill Stumpf Pithole Lantern tours 2017
Deeter and Griffin Pithole Lantern Tours 2017
The indomitable Bill Stumpf (top) as Charles Leonard, Lee Deeter and Gavin Griffin (bottom) as teamsters at Historic Pithole City's Lantern Tours (photos from Drake Well Museum)
I also heard from Sarah Goodman and Sheri Hamilton at Drake Well Museum with an update on last weekend's Lantern Tour event at Historic Pithole City. Sarah reports that more than "500 visitors encountered different petroleum history characters and listened to their colorful stories about Historic Pithole City. The evening was amazing with the Harvest Moon rising over the grounds and illuminating the spirits. Visitors also enjoyed listening to period music and seasonal refreshments while awaiting their tour." Sheri added: "Everyone enjoyed themselves, even the staff!" Congrats on another great program.

Logging camp at PA Lumber Museum
Wildflowers and fall foliage at PA Lumber Museum (via Facebook)
The Fall Antiques and Collectibles Show at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum last weekend drew enthusiastic shoppers as well as folks who wanted to see the sawmill in action and explore the history of logging and forestry. The museum and grounds are also a wonderful venue for taking in the colors of autumn. (More photos on the museum's Facebook page.) This Sunday, the PA Lumber Museum Associates (PALMA) will hold their annual meeting and enjoy a program looking back at the history of the museum.

Looking ahead...

PHMC and the Pennsylvania Historical Association have announced application details for the Scholars in Residence Program, which provides support for full-time research and study in the manuscript and state record collections maintained by the Pennsylvania State Archives. Residency programs are open to anyone researching Pennsylvania history, including academic scholars, public sector professionals, independent scholars, graduate students, educators, writers, filmmakers and others. Residencies may be scheduled for up to four weeks between June 15, 2018, and August 15, 2018. Stipends will be awarded. Please visit the PA State Archives Scholars in Residence page for complete details on how to apply. The deadline for applications is Feb. 15, with notifications going out in April.

This weekend marks the beginning of a 4-part "Vietnam Lecture Series" at the Pennsylvania Military Museum. Speakers will include historians and veterans, providing a variety of perspectives on the Vietnam War. All lectures take place from 2 to 4 pm in the museum auditorium. There is no charge for the lectures, although regular admission rates apply to visit the exhibits.

Now That You Mention It

The October program page has info on upcoming events on the Trails of History (this weekend's highlights below). Please note that most sites will be closed on Monday, Oct. 9, for Columbus Day, but Drake Well Museum and Park, Fort Pitt Museum, and the Railroad Museum of PA will be open (to the best of my knowledge, it's always a good idea to check ahead to make sure).

If you missed last Friday's guest post from Rachel Yerger about a collection of military medals from World War I, you can still find it here, "The Extraordinary Heroism of Ordinary People."


I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with the social media posts that Trails of History sites put out so that I know what they're doing and can help spread the word. But I also try to pay attention to the times when other people's social media accounts mention a Trails of History site. This past week or so, I noticed several mentions (I'm sure there were more) so I'm sharing.

Historic Hope Lodge
Historic Hope Lodge, Montgomery County (from Facebook)
The "Historic Trades & Skills of Colonial Williamsburg" page on Facebook posts all kinds of stuff about the various shops throughout the historic area. Lately the Joinery folks have been posting photos of noteworthy colonial era historic houses that are not part of Colonial Williamsburg. In late September, they included our own Hope Lodge, showcasing its Georgian symmetry, the history of ownership, and its side-by-side interpretation of the 18th century and the 20th Century Colonial Revival era.

The current issue of Mountain Home magazine includes an article on the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum as a wedding and meeting venue. The writer interviewed staff of the museum as well as the first couple to hold a wedding there, in August 2015, shortly after the renovated museum visitor center was dedicated. One of the goals of the renovation and expansion was to create more space for community meetings and events in an area where rental facilities are fairly scarce.

Earlier this week, PennLive posted a story highlighting "35 of the Best PA Small Towns." The blurb for Coudersport, Potter County, included mention of the PA Lumber Museum (which sits between Galeton and Coudersport on Route 6), and the note about Somerset included the Somerset Historical Center. Thanks, PennLive, for recognizing the importance of local museums to making small towns distinctive and visit-worthy.

This weekend (including today)...
Drake Well Museum and Park
Oct. 7: Lantern Tours at Pithole—explore the remains of a 19th-century oil boomtown and learn about the colorful characters who lived there during its brief existence (see article in the Titusville Herald). This is an all-weather event and takes place primarily outdoors, so please dress accordingly. Tickets are $10, and space is limited (more info and online ticketing). Tours set out from the visitor center at 10-minute intervals from 6:30 to 9:30 pm; as of yesterday, the 6:30, 7, 7:30, and 8 pm tour times are sold out. Advance ticket sales will be cut off at 3 pm today (10/6).

Ephrata Cloister
Oct. 6-7: Apple Dumpling Sales—enjoy a delicious PA Dutch tradition and support the Back to the Cloister Fund (which helps to return original furnishings and objects to the site). Dumplings, from Aschenbach's Bakery, are $4 each and are referred to as "meal-sized." There is no admission charge to buy apple dumplings (regular admission applies if you want to tour the site). Free local delivery can be arranged for advance orders of 20 or more; call 717/733-6600. Fri., 9:30 am-4 pm, Sat., 9:30 am until sold out.
Oct. 8: Day of Music—the Ephrata Cloister Chorus will perform in the Saal at 2, 3, and 4 pm. Included in regular admission, site is open noon-5 pm (guided tours will be available).

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Oct. 7-8: Harvest Days—a classic special event and a great way to celebrate the coming of fall. Loads of demonstrations and activities for the whole family in a beautiful setting. New this year, a maze cut into a field of sorghum (see video). (Details in this article from LancasterOnline.com.) Admission: adults, $12; seniors, $10; age 6-11, $8; free parking. 11 am-5 pm.

Old Economy Village
Oct. 7-8: Erntedankfest - A Harvest Festival—celebrate the fall harvest as artisans throughout the village cook, bake, and demonstrate their craft skills. Music, food, and family activities make this a great tradition. Included in regular admission. Sat., 10 am-5 pm; Sun., noon-5 pm.

Pennsbury Manor
October 8: Sunday programming—this week, Living History Theater presents the wedding of John Sotcher and Mary Lofty, William Penn’s steward and housekeeper, following 17th-century Quaker customs. Included in regular admission. 1-4 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Oct 7-8: Annual Fall Antique and Collectible Show—this event features dozens of vendors and supports the programs of the Lumber Museum. Other activities include sawmill operation (Saturday only), birch still and blacksmithing demos, and food for purchase in the community room. $5 admission ($3 for kids) includes the show and all museum exhibits and activities. 10 am-5 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Oct. 7: Keeping It Clean: A History of Arms & Cleaning Techniques—learn about the history of a variety of military weapons, their use, and appropriate care. Donation requested. Noon-3 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Oct. 6: Last Day - Archaeology at Fort Hunterthis season's excavations by State Museum archaeology team wrap up today. You can drop by between 10 am and 3 pm to see what's up.
Oct. 6: StoryTime—today's program, designed for kids age 3-5 with an adult, takes place in Ecology Hall to learn about squirrels. The book is Frisky Brisky Hippity Hop, by Alexina B. White. Included in general admission. 10-11 am.