Bits and Pieces

Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're planning ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings; it's ready when you are.

Twisted skeins of wool in multiple earth tones in a wooden basket
The twisted skein on top of the basket was dyed using onion skins. This photo from Daniel Boone Homestead's Facebook page reminded me of the sheep to shawl contest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show

Sometimes there's no theme

There's no point in pretending that I've had any real focus this past week. So let's just roll with it and explore some of the interesting images and info that our Trails of History Sites have been sharing.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show's live online programming continues through Saturday. Check out PHMC's Virtual Farm Show Booth for all kinds of good content.

Old Economy Village's museum educator posted this photo of a squirrel on the roof of the Community Kitchen. It made me smile, so I'm sharing it. David Miller and curator Sarah Buffington have shared lots of interesting images, objects, and info on Facebook. If you're not following Old Economy's page, you're missing out.

From the Museum Educator: On Saturday I was walking past the Community Kitchen and noticed a squirrel on one of the chimneys. Since I had my camera with me, I took some photos. Enjoy!

Posted by Old Economy Village on Tuesday, January 12, 2021


Hope Lodge explained and illustrated a prominent architectural feature on the mansion with a photo taken on a crisp winter day.

We often get lots of questions about the arched indentation in the wall above the door hood of the mansion. This is...

Posted by Historic Hope Lodge on Saturday, January 9, 2021


The State Museum of Pennsylvania shared a cool quilt pieced from almost 6,000 1-inch blocks.

Sometimes quilts are made from a single piece of fabric. In other instances, quilts are made from individual pieces of...

Posted by The State Museum of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, January 12, 2021


And Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara acknowledged the current popularity of sea shanties on TikTok.

Hey U.S. Brig Niagara, is it #seashanty o’ clock?

Posted by Erie Maritime Museum on Tuesday, January 12, 2021


Upcoming Events

Tuesday, January 19
  • Railroad Museum of PA, "Workin' on the Railroad," a virtual program geared to kids in grades K to 6, 10 am (info and registration)
Thursday, January 21
  • Drake Well Museum & Park, "The New World of COVID-19: Paradigm Shifts in the Petroleum Industry," a panel discussion exploring the effects of the pandemic on all facets of the petroleum industry, 12:30 pm (info and registration)
  • Somerset Historical Center, "It's a Hockey Night in Pittsburgh: 1893 to Today," presented by Larry Woods via the Heinz History Center Affiliates Program, 6:30 pm (info and registration)
Tuesday, January 26
  • Pennsylvania Trails of History, "What's in a theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase," a multi-site presentation on collections focused on the theme of winter and cold weather, 7 pm (info and registration)

Virtual Farm Show

Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're planning ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings, available whenever you need a taste of the Trails of History.
Three young white women in warm clothes stand next to a blue and gold historical marker, which is titled "Century Farm Program"
Photo from a previous year's in-person Pennsylvania Farm Show (PHMC photo)

Everything but the donuts (almost)

Traditionally (for a few years anyway), the first new Trailheads post of the year focuses on the Pennsylvania Farm Show and PHMC's participation. It is often one of the most popular posts. This year's Farm Show is taking place mostly online, which means no parking problems or waiting in the cold for a shuttle bus. But it also means [sob!] no Farm Show food (those of you in the Harrisburg area may be able to get potato donuts at your local Giant or Karns supermarket). Although it's not entirely the same without the smells of the animals or the food, this year's virtual Farm Show, January 9-16, means that those of you who can't get to Harrisburg anyway can enjoy the same events as everyone else. Check out the daily schedule of events (including a nightly food and beverage pairing) on the Farm Show website or follow the Farm Show Facebook page for updates.
An older African American man in cap, collared shirt,  and overalls outdoors holding a small piece of farm machinery with wheels and a chain on an incline
William Chester Ruth (1882-1971) demonstrates a model of one of his inventions, a self-lifting elevator for moving bales of hay and other agricultural materials into storage (photo from Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum virtual exhibit on his life, work, and family)


Once it goes live on January 9, you can visit PHMC's Virtual PA Farm Show Booth anytime you like. You'll find info about PHMC's programs, a link to Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum's virtual exhibit on inventor William Chester Ruth, the Pennsylvania State Archives Ancestry.com research assets, the State Museum of Pennsylvania's Mammal Hall exhibit, the historical marker scavenger hunt, and the Section of Archaeology's popular dugout canoe (and much more). So many stories to explore.

View through a doorway to a plaster wall with a square opening. The bottom steps of a wooden stairway are visible to the left.
View of one of the vaults at Old Economy Village (photo via Facebook)

Upcoming events

Saturday, January 9
  • Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara: Boats, Ships, and Us - The USS Pennsylvania - a collaborative online lecture with the PA Military Museum, 2 pm (link for info and registration)
Sunday, January 10
  • Pennsylvania Military Museum, online lecture, "The Korean War, 70 Years Later - U.S. Airpower," 2 pm (info and registration)
Tuesday, January 12
  • Old Economy Village, online lecture, "Vaults and Safes at Old Economy Village," 7 pm (info and registration)
Thursday, January 14
  • Ephrata Cloister, Ephrata Virtual Academy lecture, "An Illustrated History of Postcards with Ephrata Cloister and Other Views," 7 pm (info and registration)
  • Premiere of WQED Pittsburgh documentary, "Out of the Woods: Battlefields of Western Pennsylvania," which features, among other southwestern PA historic sites, Bushy Run Battlefield and Fort Pitt Museum (additional info)

Bring on 2021!

Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're planning ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings, available whenever you need a taste of the Trails of History.

Sprigs of holly, winterberry, pine, and boxwood in a splint basket with a gold ribbon sits on porch
This will be the last Trailheads post for 2020, as we take a little break until after the new year. However you're celebrating in the coming week, I hope that you are safe, warm, have plenty of good food, and get to spend time with people you love, be it in person or remotely. As we wave goodbye to this unexpectedly awful year, I want to thank my colleagues for their inspiring and resilient work to keep history alive and well and in front of the public. And as we ring in 2021 with as much optimism as we can muster, I hope that we will soon be welcoming people back on site in person, while continuing to use all these new skills. Watch for news of new virtual events and tours coming in 2021.

Zoom screen with 2 rows of 3 people. Caption reads "Okay everyone, welcome to the PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase for the month of"
Speaking of virtual programs, PHMC's first Virtual Collections Showcase went off without a hitch this past Saturday. Hosted by Josh Roth, site administrator at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, the program featured presentations by staff at Eckley Miners' Village, Old Economy Village, Pennsbury Manor, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, and Pennsylvania Military Museum. Each site chose an object from their collection to illustrate this month's theme, food, and had five minutes to highlight their choice.

Photo 1920s still for making alcohol. Looks like a metal stove with several vessels connected by tubes.
Screenshot of Eckley Miners' Village still with gallery of presenters

Objects included a homemade still, cookie cutters, a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (living collections are part of what we do), a 1941 Christmas dinner menu from the Civilian Conservation Corps, and military rations. Several presenters shared recipes (check out boilo, gingerbread cookie, and pumpkin pie recipes, plus some bonus material). We had some lively back and forth among the staff, answering audience questions and building on each other's presentations. Near the end of the showcase, audience members had a chance to vote on their favorite object via a Zoom poll. The Eckley Miners' Village still and the Pennsylvania Military Museum's rations tied for first place and will share the PHMC championship belt until the next showcase.

We recorded the program and hope to have it available soon on PHMC's YouTube channel. We plan to offer these programs monthly and are finalizing plans for January. Keep an eye on the PHMC Calendar of Events for details.

Bearded man in white shirt and blue tie holds a wrestling belt with medallions on it, center medallion has the PHMC logo on it in blue
You thought I was joking about the championship belt, didn't you? Kudos to Josh Roth.

Christmas Programming

There's still time to get your tickets for "Witness to History," this year's online version of Ephrata Cloister's popular Lantern Tours. Student historians will fill the roles of residents and field reporters on scene of the Revolutionary War hospital at Ephrata in the winter of 1777-78. WGAL 8's Jere Gish will anchor the broadcast, and there may be some breaking news. The program premieres Saturday, Dec. 26 at 7 pm, but ticketholders will have access to the recording until the end of the month. Purchase tickets via Ticketleap for $10 per viewing screen.

Pennsbury Manor has been counting down to Christmas on its Facebook page by exploring the "history of Christmas in William Penn's life and legacy." You can learn about how Chrismas was (and wasn't) celebrated in the 17th-century. You can also enjoy some modern celebration, such as this Christmas greeting from the Pennsbury Manor stables.


Selected Greetings from the Pennsylvania Trails of History

Starting today everyday has a little bit more of Light!

Posted by Conrad Weiser Homestead on Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Christmas is right around the corner. This is a piece from the Landis Family Collection....

Posted by Landis Valley Museum on Monday, December 21, 2020

It’s a silent night at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. https://rrmuseumpa.org @rrmuseumpa #rrmuseumofpa...

Posted by Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania on Thursday, December 24, 2020

From the Museum Educator: For my final post of 2020, I share with you a photograph I took of one of the front doors of...

Posted by Old Economy Village on Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Click here to watch the videos and to see other great videos! https://www.youtube.com/c/LandisValleyVillageFarmMuseum/videos

Posted by Landis Valley Museum on Wednesday, December 23, 2020

These are just a few of the friendly faces you might see at Historic Hope Lodge. As an all volunteer nonprofit...

Posted by Historic Hope Lodge on Monday, December 21, 2020

Throwback Thursday features Christmas Past at the Homestead! Most of our current traditions can be traced directly to...

Posted by Daniel Boone Homestead on Thursday, December 24, 2020