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.

Life Comes at You Fast

Next week will be busy with Thanksgiving preparation and clean-up, so why not take some time this weekend for a nice quiet visit on the PA Trails of History? (The November program page has a full list.) UPDATE: I've also included info below about a few programs coming up in December for which limited advance tickets are currently on sale. Watch for the full December program page going online at the end of November.

Bushy Run Battlefield
Nov. 18: Masquerade Harvest Ball—kids ages 4 to 12 are invited to dance the minuet (we'll teach you), decorate masquerade masks, play colonial games, and enjoy a light snack. Come in costume if you like. Cost is $2 per person. Reservations are a must: contact Marlene Sawayda at 724/744-4193 or to register. 2-4 pm.

Candlelight at Conrad Weiser Homestead (via Facebook)
Conrad Weiser Homestead
Nov. 18: Candlelight Tours—this annual program features Native American storytelling, 18th-century music, and a chance to see the site by night. This is an all-weather event. Admission is free (donations gratefully accepted). 5:30-8 pm (last tour starts at 7:30).

Cornwall Iron Furnace
House Tour Tickets on Sale—tickets for this year's Christmas at Cornwall House Tour (scheduled for Dec. 2) are now on sale. There will be 5 stops in Lebanon, 4 in Cornwall and 3 in Mt. Gretna. Furnace tours are also included in the ticket price - $15 in advance, $20 on the day. For details and advance tickets contact the Museum Office at 717/272-9711 or stop by the site during regular hours.

Ephrata Cloister
Tickets for Christmas at the Cloister—tickets are currently on sale for this annual event that features seasonal readings and music in the historic meetinghouse. The program takes place on Dec. 11 and 12, with two performances each night, 6:30 and 8 pm. Seating is limited. Tickets are $6 per person; call 717/733-2592.
Nov. 17: Extraordinary Give—Ephrata Cloister will once again participate in the Lancaster County Community Foundation's one-day, online giving campaign. Visit their page anytime between 12:00 am and 11:59 pm to donate.

Fort Pitt Museum
Nov. 18: Lecture and Exhibit Tour—get a curator's eye view of the new exhibit, "From Maps to Mermaids: Carved Powder Horns in Early America." Program is included in regular admission, but advance registration is highly recommended (visit website for more registration info). 11 am-1 pm.

Graeme Park
Nov. 18: Paranormal Investigation—Glenn Orwan III and Olde City Paranormal will lead an investigation and equipment seminar. Cost is $50 per person (also includes refreshments); advance registrations are required (more details and registration info). 5 pm-midnight.

Joseph Priestley House
Nov. 19: Last day of the season—as of Nov. 20, site closed until Charter Day (except for Twelfth Night event in January or by appointment).

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Nov. 17: Extraordinary Give—Landis Valley will once again participate in the Lancaster County Community Foundation's one-day, online giving campaign. Visit their page anytime between 12:00 am and 11:59 pm to donate.
Nov. 18-19: Landis Valley Museum Store Holiday Open House—shop for locally handmade art, crafts and heirloom-quality gifts and enjoy holiday decorations in the museum store. At 2 pm on Sat., Dave Rippy will be on hand to talk about his memoir, Captain of My Soul: Mastering a Destiny Altered, which recounts his journey following a car crash that left him with paralysis from the shoulders down. Two-day store event is free; regular rates apply for museum admission. Sat., 9 am-5 pm; Sun., noon-5 pm.

Members of the Pittsburgh Opera company will perform again at this year's Christmas Dinner at OEV
Old Economy Village
Reservations available for Christmas Dinner Fundraiser—this annual event, which takes place in the historic Feast Hall on Dec. 6, requires advance reservations (visit the website for details).

Pennsbury Manor
Nov. 19: Cooking Demonstration—join the cooks as they revel in the extravagant use of sugar and spices, using 17th-century confectionary recipes. Included in regular admission. 1-4 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Nov. 17: 3rd "Sunday" Program—this month's 3rd Sunday program will be held on Friday, Nov. 17. Come learn about Night Sky Photography from Curt Weinhold, PA Wilds Juried Artist and board member of the PA Lumber Museum Associates. Weinhold's photography is featured within the museum's exhibits as well (samples of his night sky photography). Potter County has some of the darkest skies around, so this is a great opportunity to explore. Cost is $60, $55 for members. Pre-registration for this limited-space event is required, but you can pay (by check or cash) upon arrival (see Facebook event page for registration and program details). 5-9 pm.

PA Military Museum Kids Day (via Facebook)
Pennsylvania Military Museum
Nov. 18: Kids Day - Dress Up and Discover!!—Kids of all ages get to try on military uniforms from the museum education collection. Photo ops in the museum theatre. Visit the education stations in the galleries for more fun discoveries throughout the day. Parents must remain on-site while their kids participate in the activities. Included in regular admission. 10:00 am-3:00 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Reservations currently open—advance registration is required for the museum's Christmas with the Conductor parties, scheduled for Dec. 2 and 9 (see flyer for details). Deadline to reserve is Nov. 24.
Nov. 17: Extraordinary Give—the Railroad Museum is participating in the Lancaster County Community Foundation's one-day, online giving campaign. Visit their page (listed as "Friends of the Railroad Museum") anytime between 12:00 am and 11:59 pm to donate.

Somerset Historical Center
Nov. 19: Last Day to Register—tickets are limited for the Dec. 3 "Ethnic Traditions" program, sponsored by the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County and hosted by Friedens Lutheran Church. Tickets are $20 per person ($35 for couple) and can be purchased at the Historical Center; call 814/445-6077.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 17: Holiday Marketplace—back by popular demand, in a new location. Shop the Trails of History with representatives from The State Museum of PA, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Ephrata Cloister, and Somerset Historical Center (details). Museum admission will be free for shoppers. Hours on Thursday are 10 am-3 pm. Friday opens at 10 am and runs until 7:30 pm for 3rd in the Burg, and includes a preview of the new exhibit, Every Thing of Interest Shown: T.M. Fowler’s Pennsylvania Bird’s-Eye Views, 1885-1905.

Veterans Day

Trailheads is coming to you a little early this week to make sure to get all the Veterans Day info out there. Please note that due to an adjusted holiday for some state staff, several sites will be closed on Friday, Nov. 10. Some of those will also be closed on Nov. 11, but some will be open. I've indicated schedule changes and holiday openings below, to the best of my knowledge. As always, if you want to visit a specific site, it's best to check their schedule before you go. And please check the November program page for other events at sites on Sunday or the remainder of the month.

But first, a look at military history events that took place on the PA Trails of History prior to this week's holiday.

PMM trench display at Beaver Stadium
WWI trench display at PSU's Beaver Stadium (photo PA Military Museum)
The Pennsylvania Military Museum was invited by the Penn State University All Sports Museum to provide an interpretive display of WWI in support of their temporary exhibit of alumni who participated in the Great War. So outside Beaver Stadium on Oct. 21, as Penn State prepared to beat Michigan, PMM staff and volunteers in period uniforms manned a trench. Museum educator Joe Horvath reports that the tailgaters were quite enthusiastic about honoring veterans: "We were showered with hugs, kisses, high-fives, fist bumps, requests for selfies (many, many, many selfies), food and drink." Although their service post-dated World War I by quite a bit, PMM's representatives at the event were in fact all veterans of military service - Horvath served in the US Navy, volunteer Mark Roland is a US Army veteran, and volunteer Thomas Stoner served in the US Marine Corps. Thank you all for your service and for sharing history with the public.

PMM staff and volunteers as WWI doughboys
From l to r: Joe Horvath, Mark Roland, and Thomas Stoner with PMM's WWI display at Beaver Stadium (photo PA Military Museum)

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania hosted their annual Trains and Troops event last weekend, commemorating and honoring the connections between the U.S. military and the railroads. This rich history is represented in the museum's collections; for this yearly event exhibitors, reenactors, and military honor guard members round out the experience for visitors. You can see photos of the event on Norfolk Southern's Facebook page.

A number of participants and attendees shared photos of Hope Lodge's annual Whitemarsh Encampment. The Revolutionary War reenactment commemorates the period of Nov. 2-Dec. 11, 1777, when General George Washington and the Continental Army encamped in the Whitemarsh Hills before settling in for the winter at Valley Forge. You'll find all sorts of photos on the Historic Hope Lodge Facebook page.

Official 2017 Veterans Day Poster (U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs)

Veterans Day-related activities this weekend...

Brandywine Battlefield Park
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 9 am-4 pm.

Drake Well Museum and Park
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 9 am-5 pm. Admission will be free for veterans. All other visitors will receive a $2.00 per ticket discount with the donation of a personal care item (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, deodorant, etc.) for the Veterans Miracle Center project. Cash donations will also be gratefully accepted.

Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—the museum is open 9 am-5 pm. Admission will be free for veterans and their immediate families. The museum is working with the Presque Isle Partnership to collect personal care items for military personnel; items and cash donations may be dropped off at the museum through today. Elsewhere in the Erie area, U.S. Brig Niagara’s "Ship’s Company 1813" reenactor troupe will again participate in Presque Isle State Park’s third annual Veterans Appreciation Day event, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Park’s Rotary Pavilion.
Nov. 13: Members and Veterans Invited—to commemorate this year's Veterans Day, the museum invites members and veterans to share your stories as we honor your service and sacrifice. The morning will include light refreshments and a behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. Brig Niagara and wood shop with Captain Sabatini and Shipwright Adam Stanisz. We encourage our members to bring any commemorative photos or memorabilia that they would like to share. Please RSVP by Sunday, November 12, to Marcus Masternak at or call 814-452-2744 ext.222.

Fort Pitt Museum
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 10 am-5 pm.

Graeme Park
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 10 am-4 pm. Admission is free for veterans.

Joseph Priestley House
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 1-4 pm.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Nov. 10: Site closed in observance of Veterans Day.
Nov. 11: Site open 9 am-5 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—museum open 9 am-5 pm. Locally made, hand-crafted, and holiday-themed items will be featured by a variety of vendors in the museum program room from 10 am to 4 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—the museum is open 10 am-5 pm. Admission is free for veterans and their families.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—museum open 9 am-5 pm.

Somerset Historical Center
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—museum open 9 am-5 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 10: Museum closed in observance of Veterans Day.
Nov. 11: Museum open 9 am-5 pm.—please also note that parking in downtown Harrisburg will be free on Nov. 11.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Nov. 10: Historic buildings and visitor center closed in observance of Veterans Day.
Nov. 11: Site open 10 am-4 pm—the park will offer free guided tours to all veterans and active-duty military personnel with military ID.

Five Reasons (at Least) to Join the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation

Be sure to check the November program page for details on events coming up this weekend. And don't forget to turn your clocks back an hour by 2 am on Sunday, Nov. 5, as we say goodbye to Daylight Saving Time for another year.

This week's post comes to us from the staff of the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation (PHF), which supports the work of PHMC.

The Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation and The State Museum of Pennsylvania are excited to offer a Buy One Get One Free membership offer! This is your opportunity to visit all the great Pennsylvania Trails of History sites you read about on Trailheads. Renew, rejoin, or join for the first time and gift a free membership (of equal or lesser value) to a friend, family member, or co-worker. You can also donate a subscription to a local middle or high school, public library, VA hospital, or nursing home. This is a limited time offer - good only until December 31, 2017!

Locations of  PHMC's Trails of History sites (key to map)
Membership grants you the following benefits:
  • General admission to all 23 Trails of History sites and museums for a full year, so you can take advantage of the exciting activities in all seasons (please note: many special events require an additional fee). This includes The State Museum of Pennsylvania, with access to the Planetarium and, for Family-level members, Curiosity Connection!
  • A full-year subscription to the award-winning Pennsylvania Heritage magazine (4 issues).
  • Membership in Time Travelers, a reciprocal membership program of over 300 nationally participating museums with a variety of benefits, including free or discounted museum admission, gift shop discounts, and many others.
  • A personalized membership card.
  • Special member events throughout the year.
To take advantage of this special offer by December 31, 2017:
  • Visit and join online.
  • OR
  • Call (717) 787-2407 and join over the telephone with friendly PHF staff.
  • OR
  • Visit The State Museum of Pennsylvania in person and join through the Museum Store.
More information is available on the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation website at or by calling the office at (717) 787-2407. Join over 2,500 members who know how exciting history is on the Pennsylvania Trails of History!

While I'm Away...

Trailheads HQ staff has been away this week, so this post was written further ahead of time than usual (that is, not at the last minute the day before it posts, ahem). Given the season, I found two guest posts from late last year that I thought might be interesting to revisit.

Panoramic view of Saron Saal and Bakery at Ephrata Cloister
Bakery, Saal, and Saron at Ephrata Cloister (photo by Charlie Fox)
Last October, just in time for Halloween, Corine Lehigh of the PA State Archives wrote about York County's Hex Hollow Murders.

In December, Rachel Yerger, a curator in the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, wrote about hunting-related objects belonging to Helen Sites Miller that are in the core exhibit at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum.

Coming up this weekend...[info is accurate as of Oct. 20]

Anthracite Heritage Museum and Scranton Iron Furnaces
Oct. 28: Dramatic Reading—writer Robert Thomas Hughes will present "John Mitchell: An American Hero." Cost is $5 and reservations are suggested (call the museum at 570/963-4804). 2 pm.

Bushy Run Battlefield
Oct. 29: Last Day of the 2017 Season—starting Mon., Oct. 30, the visitor center is closed to the public until Spring 2018. There are events scheduled in Nov. and Dec., so check the website for details.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Oct. 28: Trick or Treat at the Homestead—there will be loads of activities for kids and their families (more info on Facebook). Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for kids. 10 am-4 pm.

Drake Well Museum and Park
Oct. 28: Something More Saturday—special activities included in regular admission (check Facebook event page for more info). Special: purchase 2 adult tickets and get 3 youth tickets free. 10 am-3 pm.

Eckley Miners’ Village
Oct. 27-28: Haunted Halloween Lantern Tours—tour groups walk through the 19th-century village and encounter ghosts, goblins, and ghoulish fun. Tours last about an hour and are filled on a first come, first served basis. Bring your own flashlight or purchase one at the museum store. Admission is $10 for adults (age 13+), $5 for children (age 6-12). Please start at the visitor center: doors open at 6 pm, last tour starts at 9.

Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara
Oct. 28: Little Mates Halloween Spooktacular—members of the Little Mates Kids Club are invited for a visit with the Captain of the U.S. Brig Niagara, including lunch, costume contests, and a behind-the-scenes tour. Non-members are also invited and can attend for a $5 fee (info here on membership). 11 am-1 pm.

Graeme Park
Oct. 27: Haunted Lantern Tours—experience the Keith House by lantern light (you may bring your own flashlight if you wish). Cost is $5; tickets must be purchased online and there is a small processing fee (more details and link to Eventbrite). Beverages (alcoholic and non) and snacks will be available for purchase. Weather permitting, there will be a campfire. 7-8:45 pm.

Old Economy Village
Oct. 28: A Halloween Haunting—children 10 and under are invited to come in costume and trick-or-treat among the historic buildings. Please check the website for details. Admission is $5 per person. 10 am-3:30 pm.

Pennsbury Manor
Oct. 29: Sunday programming—this week's program is Meet the Animals (Pennsbury's furry and feathered residents await your visit). Included in regular admission 1-4 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Oct. 28: Inside the Belly of the Beast—take a behind-the-scenes tour inside and outside of the museum, going into areas normally off-limits to visitors. Cost is $15, $5 for museum members. Space is limited, and advance registration is required (online form). 2-4 pm.
Oct. 29: Vietnam Lecture Series—this week's topic is "Americans in Battle." Admission is free. 2-4 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Oct. 28: Workshops in Archaeology—for more information and registration form, visit the State Museum website.

Hope Lodge Rev War Encampment 2014
Scene from Hope Lodge Rev War Encampment in 2014 (photo by Al Pockek)
And next weekend...
Nov. 4: Revolutionary War Encampment—the Friends of Hope Lodge will host their 36th annual encampment re-enactment, commemorating the time from November 2 to December 11, 1777, when General George Washington and the Continental Army encamped in the Whitemarsh Hills. Come and experience 18th-century life in Fort Washington. Reenactors dressed in authentic American and British uniforms will march to the beat of fife and drum and demonstrate the military tactics used during the Revolutionary War. Revolutionary War skirmishes on the grounds are scheduled for 11:30 am & 2:30 pm. After the skirmish, come visit a Revolutionary encampment where women in colonial dress cook over an open fire and children play colonial games. Other events occurring during the day include textile and dyeing demonstrations and a papermaking activity (presented by Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation); a lecture & book signing by Jeffrey Finegan, Sr., author of the I Knew George Washington series; a Children's Muster Drill and scavenger hunt; experiments of Dr. Benjamin Franklin (presented by Michael Kochan); and open hearth cooking demonstrations. The Hope Lodge mansion will be open for tours. Sutlers, bake sale, and Catering by Tonellis of Lafayette Hill will also be available. Admission charged (details on the website). 10 am-4 pm.

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 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.

Get your Questions Ready: Join us for Ask An Archivist Day

Join us on Wednesday, October 4 for Ask An Archivist 

Archivists, by nature and profession, are some of the most patient people on the planet.  They're accustomed to being peppered with questions from researchers and visitors determined to track down everything from land records to genealogical histories.  

On Wednesday, you will have the undivided attention of four archivists from the Pennsylvania State Archives.  Kurt Bell, Rich Saylor, Aaron McWilliams and Josh Stahlman will take part in Ask An Archivist Day.

Sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, Ask An Archivist offers the public the opportunity to connect directly to archivists in their community — and around the country — through asking questions, gathering information, or just satisfying curiosity.

#AskAnArchivist Day is open to everyone - all you need is a Twitter account. To participate, just tweet a question to @PHMC and include the hashtag #AskAnArchivist in your tweet. Our archivists will see your question instantly. 

Here’s our schedule for Ask An Archivist Day:

Kurt Bell

10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.: Kurt Bell will start us off with his vast knowledge of the history of railroading in Pennsylvania, specifically the records held by the Pennsylvania State Archives and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.  

Rich Saylor

11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.: Join Pennsylvania State Archives' Rich Saylor for a World War I-themed Twitter Q&A. Earlier this year, Rich debuted an exhibit at The State Museum of Pennsylvania which spotlights an historic collection of World War I-era postersPennsylvania At War: World War I Posters from the Pennsylvania State Archives commemorates the anniversary of the U.S. involvement in World War I . Rich will also take questions relating to Pennsylvania military records from other historical eras preserved by the Archives.  

Aaron McWilliams
1 p.m to 1:45 p.m.: Aaron McWilliams will kick off our afternoon segment of Ask An Archivist. McWilliams will answer your questions regarding genealogy and family histories.  To date, more than 14 million records preserved by the Pennsylvania State Archives have been digitized by and are available to commonwealth residents, free of charge.  These documents include birth and death certificates and marriage records.  Some of the more unusual documents include a 1909 birth certificate from a Pottstown resident named "Batman."  Ask Aaron about the celebrities, such as Katy Segal and Steve Buscemi, who visited the Archives.

Josh Stahlman

3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.: Rounding out Ask An Archivist Day will be Josh Stahlman.  Ask Josh for tips and techniques regarding disaster planning and response.