Looking Forward to 2016 (I Think)

Trailheads will be taking a little break for Christmas and New Year's, so this post is early (Happy Festivus) and will have to do two posts' worth of "work." Whatever you may be celebrating, wherever you may be traveling, whoever you may be spending the next week with - I hope that your world is filled with good things. Thank you for reading this blog and for supporting PHMC's Trails of History. Cheers to the New Year! Here's hoping that 2016 brings more peace, more light, more joy.

The December program listings are still up so that you can see what there is to do this coming week, and the January listings are available if you want to plan ahead. Please note that many sites will close early tomorrow (Dec. 24) and Dec. 31, and that operating schedules will change for a number of sites in January. Always be sure to check ahead to be sure the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there.

As of this writing (12/23), there are still tickets available for Ephrata Cloister's Lantern Tour program, which runs Dec. 26-29 with tours leaving the visitor center at 6:30, 7, 7:30, and 8 pm (more info on how to get tickets). This year's focus is one of the community's founders, Brother Amos; a short-term exhibit is currently on display in the visitor center that helps tell the story as well. (You might also be interested in reading about a recent acquisition at Ephrata.)

Last I checked, there were a limited number of Patriot's Passes available for Friday's reenactment of George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Night 1776. The event is free to the public, but a Patriot's Pass ($25 per person) gets you a prime viewing spot and adult beverages.

The model train layout that staff from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania set up at the Governor's Residence was featured in a Lancaster Online article, which also includes some advice for those of you who want to set up your own layout (still time for this year).

If you have attended the annual "Twelfth Day" program at the Joseph Priestley House, which presents the English holiday celebration of Epiphany, please note that the program is now "Twelfth Night" and will be held Sunday, January 3, from 4 to 7 pm. It's a rare opportunity to see the sight by lantern light. (Priestley House is otherwise closed until March, except by appointment.)

2016 will mark the 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show (Jan. 9-16) and PHMC will be on hand to help mark the occasion. The State Museum Archaeology program, in cooperation with the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology and the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council, will have an exhibit on the development of agriculture in Pennsylvania. Folks from Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum will display, among other things, a Conestoga Wagon and a selection of farm machinery models designed by Lancaster County inventor William Chester Ruth.

Landis Valley plows, etc., staged and ready to go to the 2016 PA Farm Show

5 Things You Might Want to Know about the Trails of History

(If you're a regular Trailheads reader and have noticed that several recent post titles begin with the number 5, it's because I'm conducting an experiment about readership. Just move along. These aren't the droids you're looking for.)

Please visit the December program page for info on events taking place this weekend and through the end of the month/year.

The State Museum of PA has announced that entries are now being accepted for the 2016 Art of State Exhibit. This is the 49th annual show, and entries are welcome from Pennsylvania artists and craftspeople. Deadline for submission is Feb. 29, 2016 (yep, 2016 is a Leap Year, folks).

The Winter Wonderland Photo Contest at Eckley Miners' Village is underway and will run through the winter (rules and entry form). Photos may be submitted at any time between now and March 1, 2016.

Artists and craftspeople in the Berks County area might want to check out the page for the new Artisans in the Park event at Conrad Weiser Homestead. The event is scheduled for April 30, 2016, but they are recruiting now for people to participate; the event will also feature food and wine.

The first crossing of the Delaware event for 2016 was on Sunday (photos posted on Facebook), but the annual Christmas Day event at Washington Crossing Historic Park is still to come. The weather forecast is significantly warmer and clearer than the sleet and snow General Washington and his Continental Army experienced in 1776.

A little bit of whimsy from the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara (above) to usher in the season. The museum and ship hosted their annual "Christmas Tree Ship" program, which is based on a true story as told by Jeanette Winter. The event includes lots of activities for families, a chance to visit with Santa, and lots of lights. Mark your calendar for Dec. 9, 2016, if you want to be sure not to miss it next year.

Top: Lights adorn the ramp from the museum to the plaza
Bottom: Santa emerges from Niagara's winter cover to greet the assembled crowd
(photos by John Baker)

5 things you may have missed this week on the Trails of History

With so many holiday programs going on (not to mention the rest of life), you can't possibly have been to all the events on the Trails of History this past couple of weeks. Happily, thanks to social media, many sites have shared photos. And yes, what follows is very likely more than 5 things you may have missed. Be sure to check the December program page for upcoming events.

Top: Capt. Jim Bloom, US Navy (Ret.) speaks during Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Tribute
Bottom: The Pennsy Guns, PA Military Museum (photos by Chuck Smith)

This first item is a somber one, but I didn't want to let it get lost amidst the more cheerful stuff. On Monday, Dec. 7, the Pennsylvania Military Museum hosted their annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Tribute. The event took place beneath two 14-inch guns from the USS Pennsylvania, which was at Pearl Harbor and sustained damage during the attack. PCN-tv was on hand to record the event, but I wasn't able to find the footage just yet. News coverage was also provided by the Daily Collegian and the Centre Daily Times, and site staff provided the photos above.

The Surveyor's Office, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, via Facebook

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum is always busy during the holiday season, with Belsnickel events, Christmas Country Village (which continues Dec. 12-13), and the annual community bonfire. The photo above shows the Surveyor's Office decorated by staff and volunteers from the Heirloom Seed Project. You can find more photos of Christmas Country Village on Landis Valley's Facebook page and check out photos of the site posted by photographer Jennifer MacNeill.

Site volunteers will be providing a make and take craft this evening (Dec. 11) for families taking part in the Ephrata Merchants' Association Jingle Bell Trolley Tour, which departs from the Ephrata Cloister parking lot. Sounds like a nice community cooperation effort. Also, there are (at least as of Dec. 10) still tickets available for Christmas at the Cloister, Dec. 14 and 15. It's a lovely program filled with music.


So I mentioned that lots of sites have shared photos from their holiday programs on social media. The potentially yummy photo above shows pedahoh (or perogies) being made for Somerset Historical Center's Ethnic Christmas Traditions program last weekend, which included food from Italian, Polish, Slovak, and German traditions (there was cultural info as well, but you know I always focus on the food). You can also find photos from Christmas at Eckley [Miners' Village], Christmas at Hope Lodge, and Pennsbury Manor's Holly Nights.

On Dec. 9, the Railroad Museum's Catcher the Cow, Anthracite Heritage Museum's coal mine mule, and the State Museum's firefly and Big Chick all hung out on Twitter and Facebook for #MuseumMascotDay.

How Was Your Thanksgiving, etc.?

I hope that you and yours had a safe and happy Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Gimme-a-Break Sunday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Whatever Wednesday, and Thfffft Thursday (sorry, I ran out of steam). Please be sure to check the December program page to see what there is to do this month on the Trails of History. I've highlighted this weekend's offerings below, but you may want to plan ahead for events later in the month. As always, be aware that some site schedules change during the winter, so it's always a good idea to check before visiting.

Ephrata Cloister held a candlelight open house last weekend and welcomed quite a few visitors interested in getting a different view of the site. Musicians and craftspeople were on hand to talk with visitors as they explored the historic buildings (WGAL covered the event and posted video on their website). If you missed it, fear not. The annual Christmas at the Cloister (Dec. 14-15) and Lantern Tour (Dec. 26-29) programs are still to come. Tickets are required for both, and Christmas at the Cloister may be sold out by the time you see this, but call 717/433-6600 to check on availability.

Staff from the Railroad Museum of PA set up the traditional model train layout at the Pennsylvania Governor's Residence this week, featuring G-scale (for Garden) locomotives and railcars from Bachmann. They posted a short video on their Facebook page and you can see the layout in person if you attend the open house and tour events starting next week. Of course, you can always see model trains and their life-size counterparts at the Museum.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania staff installed an operating layout at the Pennsylvania Governor's Residence today. Great G scale trains are courtesy of our friends at Bachmann!

Posted by Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania on Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Conrad Weiser Homestead: Christmas Open House, Sunday 12/6, noon-4 pm.

Cornwall Iron Furnace: Christmas at Cornwall House Tour, Saturday 12/5, 10 am-4 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead: A Homestead Christmas, Sunday 12/6, noon-4 pm.

Eckley Miners' Village: Christmas at Eckley, Saturday and Sunday 12/5-6, noon-4 pm.

Hope Lodge: Christmas at Hope Lodge, Saturday 12/5, 11 am-5 pm.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum: Country Christmas Village, Saturday 12/5, 10 am-4 pm, and Sunday 12/6, noon-4 pm (event also held Dec. 12-13 but program varies).

Old Economy Village: A Visit with Belsnickel, Saturday 12/5, 10 am-3 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania: Home for the Holidays and Christmas with the Conductor, Saturday 12/5, 9 am-5 pm (and again on 12/12).

Somerset Historical Center: Ethnic Traditions of Somerset County, Sunday 12/6 at Friedens Lutheran Church. Advance tickets only, call 814/445-6077.