Are We Feeling Festive Yet?

The December program page has info on this month's happenings. I've highlighted this weekend's activities below (along with a few things that happen before the next Trailheads hits the streets).

So many lovely pictures in my news feed this week.


Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum's Country Christmas Village event included (among other things) musical entertainment and freshly baked cookies, such as the traditional German anise-flavored springerle pictured above. You can see more photos on Landis Valley's Facebook page. (You can also find a collection of Landis Valley photos on Jennifer MacNeill Photography's Facebook page, posted at Thanksgiving.)


Another successful Cornwall Iron Furnace Holiday House Tour is in the books (see exterior view above). If you missed your chance to snoop around in other people's houses, there are interior photos of some of the featured homes on Cornwall's Facebook page. Seriously though, thank you to all the folks who opened their homes for this annual event, which benefits the public programs and educational activities of the museum.

Hooray for volunteers!! Doug O'Brien was the Railroad Museum of PA's Volunteer of the Year for 2015 and Stu Jack was their honoree for 2016. You can read about Doug and Stu in the 50plus LIFE article to learn more about their work at the Museum. Let me take this opportunity to thank all of PHMC's volunteers for their efforts. You are priceless.

Lanterns light a path at historic Hope Lodge (via Facebook)
Bushy Run Battlefield
Dec. 9: Children's Colonial Christmas Party—kids age 4-12 are invited to learn about and make homemade decorations, learn a colonial-era dance, and enjoy a snack. Cost is $2 per child. Advance registration is required: contact Marlene at 724/744-4193 or 1-3 pm.
Dec. 10: Christmas Sale—last chance to visit the museum store for this season to find the perfect gift. Six additional vendors will be on hand in the Stone Room. 1-4 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Dec. 8-9: Christkindlmarket—crafts, wine, candlelight, and shopping (details on the Facebook event page). Admission is $7 for adults. Tickets available by calling 610/582-4900. 4-9 pm both days.

Ephrata Cloister
Dec. 11-12: Christmas at the Cloister—this popular annual program combines seasonal readings and traditional music performed by the Ephrata Cloister Chorus in the 1741 Meetinghouse (Saal). Performance times are 6:30 and 8 pm each evening. Tickets are $6 per person and seating is limited; call 717/733-6600 for availability.

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
Dec. 9: Christmas Tree ShipNiagara will be lit up for Christmas, and there will be lots of family activities, a visit with Santa and a live reindeer (due to arrive at 5:45 pm), and the story of The Christmas Tree Ship (more program details on the website). Admission is free. Please bring a new, unwrapped toy for the local Toys for Tots collection. 5:30-8:30 pm.

Hope Lodge
Dec. 9: Guided Tours of the Mansion—tours of the mansion will be offered at 10 and 11:30 am, 1 and 2:30 pm. Regular admission charged; fee includes cookies and cider. Site open 10 am-4 pm.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Dec. 9: Artists Showcase at the Museum Store—meet 15 of LVM's tradespeople and artisans, learn about their work, and purchase beautiful handmade and locally produced merchandise. Regular admission rates apply to visit the exhibit buildings, but there's never a charge to visit the Museum Store. 9 am-5 pm.

Pennsbury Manor celebrates the season (via Facebook)
Pennsbury Manor
Dec 8: Holly Nights—a special opportunity to see Pennsbury illuminated by candlelight, bonfires, and hearth fires. Enjoy caroling, hot cider, and throwing a green sprig on the Yule log for luck (details on the website). Admission (at the door only): Adults, $14; Seniors, $12; Children, $6. 6-9 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Dec 10: Santa in the Shay—St. Nick will forgo his sleigh in favor of a geared locomotive as he listens to children's requests. Take an instant photo and turn it into an ornament, browse unique gifts from local artisans and the museum store, and enjoy hot cocoa (details). Admission is $5 (ages 12+), $3 (ages 3-11), ages 3 and under are always free. Noon-4pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Dec. 9: Lecture—the program will explore the occult roots of nazism during its rise in the 1930s and 40s. 3-4 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Dec. 9: Home for the Holidays—costumed engineers, conductors, ticket agents, and passengers representing the past century bring historic rail travel to life. (RMP shared an article from the New York Times about the historic link between holiday travel and the railroads.) Kids can visit with Santa or work with a telegrapher to send a Christmas telegram to the North Pole. Holiday music, refreshments (while supplies last), and shopping are part of the day too (lots more details). Included in regular admission. 9 am-5 pm.

Somerset Historical Center
Dec. 9: Christmas Fun—enjoy music, tree decorating, children's activities, and shopping for locally made crafts and regional foods (maple syrup and honey top the list). The site will be open extended hours today, 9 am to 7 pm.

December? Yes, Please

The December program page is now up and running for those of you who like to plan your month. I've highlighted this weekend's events (and a couple that happen before the next edition of Trailheads) for those of you who like to be more spontaneous.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
Dec. 3: Christmas Open House—enjoy one last chance to visit the homestead before winter sets in (site will be open by appointment only until Charter Day in March). The Visitor Center Bookstore will be open and books will be marked down 10%. American Art Designs and Stone House History will be on site (more info on the Facebook event page). Guided tours will be available. Admission is free and donations will be gratefully accepted. Noon-4 pm.

Cornwall's Christmas House Tour is a rare chance to see the interior of the Paymaster's Office (via Facebook)
Cornwall Iron Furnace
Dec. 2: Christmas at Cornwall House Tour—this annual tour lets you explore private homes in the Cornwall/Lebanon area (list of this year's homes) while supporting the Friends of Cornwall Iron Furnace. Tickets are $15 in advance at several locations in the community and at the Furnace. Tickets are $20 on the day of the tour and are available only at the Iron Furnace. Your ticket includes a guided tour of the Furnace, which you may redeem during regular operating hours up through Dec. 29, 2017. Light refreshments will be offered throughout the day at the Furnace. 10 am-4 pm.

Eckley Miners' Village
Dec. 2-3: Christmas at Eckley—from carolers to cocoa, crafts to St. Nick, you are sure to find something delightful in this old-fashioned Christmas celebration. Admission is $7. Noon-4 pm both days.

Ephrata Cloister
As of today, Dec. 1, tickets are now on sale for this year's Lantern Tours (slated for Dec. 27-30). Information on tour times and reservations is on the website.

Degn Living Room at Hope Lodge decorated for Christmas (photo Friends of Hope Lodge)
Hope Lodge
Dec. 2: Holidays at Hope Lodge and Beer Tasting—tour the mansion at your leisure to enjoy the festive decorations and enjoy light refreshments (details on Facebook). Baked goods will be available for purchase. Admission is $3 for ages 13 and up. Visitors age 21 and older (must have ID) may visit the Summer Kitchen for samples of seasonal ales from Round Guys Brewing Company and Pub ($5 for 4 4-oz. samples). 11 am-5 pm (beer tasting, 1-5 pm).

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Dec. 2-3: Country Christmas Village—enjoy a Pennsylvania German Christmas, with all kinds of trees, der Belsnickel, and take-home crafts to try. See a Civil War winter camp and traditional foods prepared in the tavern. Children can learn about the history of Santa Claus and (with parental permission) post a letter to Santa at the Landis Valley Post Office ($1 postage) and receive a reply from the North Pole. Musical entertainment will be provided in the Yellow Barn (different performers each day). Admission: Adults, $12; Seniors, $10; Youth (age 3-11), $8; LVA members and age 2 and under, free. Saturday, 10 am-4 pm; Sunday, noon-4 pm.

Dining room of the George Rapp House, Old Economy Village (via Facebook)
Old Economy Village
Dec. 2-3: Christmas at the Village—enjoy Christmas carols sung by local choirs and shop for handmade wares by local craftspeople. Children will find activities just for them and can even visit with mean old Belsnickel (details). Admission charged; please purchase tickets at the Visitor Center, as no tickets will be sold at the Village gate. Saturday, 2-9 pm; Sunday, 2-7 pm.
Dec. 6: Christmas Dinner—join with other supporters of Old Economy for a festive evening of dining and music in the Feast Hall (details). Reservations are required. The deadline was Nov. 27, so please call 724/266-4500 x101 to see if there's still space. Doors open at 6 pm.

Pennsbury Manor
Dec 7-8: Holly Nights—a special opportunity to see Pennsbury illuminated by candlelight, bonfires, and hearth fires. Enjoy caroling, hot cider, and throwing a green sprig on the Yule log for luck (details on the website). Admission: Adults, $14; Seniors, $12; Children, $6 (purchase tickets online). 6-9 pm both nights.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Dec. 2: Home for the Holidays and Christmas with the Conductor—costumed engineers, conductors, ticket agents, and passengers representing the past century bring historic rail travel to life. Please note that this program is also offered on Dec. 9. Kids can visit with Santa or work with a telegrapher to send a Christmas telegram to the North Pole. Holiday music, refreshments (while supplies last), and shopping are part of the day too (lots more details). Included in regular admission (extra charge for Christmas with the Conductor parties, call the museum at 717/687-8628 to check availability - as of 11/29 the Dec. 2 parties are sold out but there may still be spots available for Dec. 9). 9 am-5 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Dec. 1: StoryTime—take a stroll through the museum's Village Square and read Caldecott Medal winner On Market Street by Anita and Arnold Lobel. Included in general admission and intended for children age 3-5 with an adult. 10-11 am.
Dec. 7: Nature Lab Programs—explore "Reintroduction of Beaver and Elk". Included in general admission. 11:30 am-12:30 pm.

Thanksgiving Week at a Glance

First of all, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for and try to have the good sense never to take any of it for granted. I hope that you and yours are warm, safe, and well fed. And I hope that we all find ways in the coming weeks and months to help people who aren't as fortunate.

Fall garden scene at Pennsbury Manor (via Facebook)
All PA Trails of History sites will be closed tomorrow, Nov. 23, for Thanksgiving Day. If you still want some history, how about participating in The Great Thanksgiving Listen? This is an initiative developed by Story Corps (#TheGreatListen) to help teachers and students conduct oral history interviews with family members, but the app and questions (and the ability to save interviews in the Story Corps Archive) are available to everyone. There's even a printable placemat that might make a great addition to the kids' table. Whether you're recording interviews or not, the placemat provides some conversation starters that can help any gathering along or keep it from going off the rails.

Some sites will be open on Friday, Nov. 24, and I've indicated that in the schedule below. The info is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but as always, it's a good idea to check with specific sites if you're making a special trip to visit them. Friday is also a good day to #OptOutside and visit one of Pennsylvania's many state parks.

Stoneware mugs at Cornwall Iron Furnace Museum Store (via Sunset Hill Stoneware's Facebook page)
That brings us to Saturday, Nov. 25. Trails of History sites will be back to their regular schedules - please note that some sites are now on winter seasonal schedules. As noted above, be sure to check that the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there. I've noted special events below. If you want to participate in Small Business Saturday and #shopsmall, remember that our museum stores are great places to buy locally made crafts and art. Not to mention regional and local food specialties or one-of-a-kind gifts.

Redware plates and other traditional items at Ephrata Cloister Museum Store (via Facebook)
If your Saturday is full, why not spend Sunday, Nov. 26, on the Trails of History supporting #MuseumStoreSunday? This is a new program from the Museum Store Association, and many PHMC sites will be taking part (at least informally). Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum has been updating an album on their Facebook page with beautiful stuff from their Museum Store. (I wanted to share, but I couldn't pick just one - please visit the album and the site to see for yourself.) You can read about deals at Landis Valley and the Railroad Museum of PA in this article from LancasterOnline.

On #CyberMonday, Nov. 27, visit the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara website to book your 2018 Day Sails (actually that deal is going on Nov. 24 through Nov. 27, but I'm trying to work a theme here). Save $10 per member or non-member ticket and beat the spring rush. Gift cards are also available online.

Day sailors on board U.S. Brig Niagara, 2010 (AKF photo)
Tuesday, Nov. 28, brings an opportunity to follow-up all that holiday eating and shopping with donations to good causes of your choosing. One such cause on the Trails of History is the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation (PHF) #GivingTuesday project. PHF is the PHMC's support organization and this year has a #GivingTuesday goal of $3,000 to assist school visits to PHMC's sites and museums. PHF will post more specific info on Tuesday, but they'll use their Annual Fund page to receive #GivingTuesday donations. UPDATE: info posted today, Monday, Nov. 27.

It seems to me that we need a hashtag for the Wednesday after Thanksgiving to round out the week, but I haven't found one. #WhateverWednesday to denote our exhaustion and apathy might be a possibility but maybe that's too cynical. C'mon Trailheads nation, let's start a trend - post your suggestions in the comments.

Holiday weekend schedule...

Brandywine Battlefield Park
Nov. 25: Patriot’s Day—living history demonstrations, musket drills, blacksmith, house tours, and 18th-century medical "experts"--lots of activities for all ages. At 2 pm, Dr. Robert Selig will present "The Politics of Arming America: The Vallière 4-lb Cannon at Brandywine," which will help answer questions on how/why this piece came to America during the Revolution and will also discuss its importance in assisting the American cause of liberty. 10 am-4 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Nov. 24: Day After Thanksgiving—site open 10 am-4 pm.

Drake Well Museum and Park
Nov. 25: Something More Saturday—members of the Venango County ARES/RACES ham radio club will be on hand to help visitors speak with Santa at the North Pole. There will also be holiday craft projects using recycled materials and other family-friendly activities (details on Facebook). Included in regular admission (special group admission: buy 2 full-price adult tickets and get 3 youth tickets free). Site open 9 am-5 pm; special programming, 10 am-3 pm.

Ephrata Cloister
Nov. 25: Candlelight Open House—spend a lovely evening exploring the Ephrata Cloister, with music, craftspeople, and more. Cost is $6 per person. 5-8:30 pm.

Fort Pitt Museum
Nov. 24: Day After Thanksgiving—site open 10 am-5 pm.

Graeme Park
Nov. 25: A Continental Christmas—more than 2,000 men of the Continental Army were encamped around Graeme Park from December 1777 through January 1778. Learn about what Christmas was like that year for the soldiers and the residents of Graeme Park. Suggested donation, $2 (free for members). 10 am-3 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 24: Day After Thanksgiving—site open 9 am-5 pm.
Nov. 24: Last Day for Reservations—advance registration is required for the museum's Christmas with the Conductor parties, scheduled for Dec. 2 and 9 (see flyer for details).

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Please check the website for details on this weekend's schedule.