How Was Your Solstice?

Summer garden with purple flowers
Summer Garden (photo AKF)
With the summer solstice now behind us (or ahead of us if you take the long view), it's time to really dig in and enjoy the season. For some of you, that means being outdoors a lot. For others, it's about finding cool indoor activities to stay out of the heat. Or maybe you're somewhere in between. Whatever "summer" means to you, I hope that you'll have a chance to explore the Trails of History to find it. The June program page has events coming up this weekend and next week (and I've highlighted some below). The July page is now available, as well as a list (to the best of my knowledge) of Trails of History sites open on July 4.

We are currently in the midst of #MuseumWeek and several sites have been posting throughout the week. If you're not already following them on Twitter, take a look at the Railroad Museum of PA, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, Daniel Boone Homestead, Old Economy Village, or PHMC's feeds to see the cool stuff they've shared. Wednesday was National Selfie Day, and the Railroad Museum was featured in an article in the Lancaster news about local places to take selfies.

A blog post from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) about ways that history organizations are talking about environmental history included the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum's core exhibit, "Challenges and Choices in Pennsylvania's Forests." The exhibit won awards from AASLH and PA Museums in 2016.

Young soccer players learn about flax at Somerset

Somerset Historical Center shared photos on Facebook of their June living history weekend, which focused on life in the 1700s. Above, volunteer Gary Burkett explains to two young soccer players how flax is turned into linen (see more photos). The next living history weekend, July 8-9, will present local history related to World War I.


Classes at this year's Summer Institute at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum included tours, lectures, and multi-day hands-on learning opportunities. Participants explored hearth cooking, pottery (photo above), woodworking, and working with draft horses, among other things. Visit Landis Valley's website for info on craft and skills classes held throughout the year.

This weekend on the Trails of History

Drake Well Museum
June 24: Something More Saturday—visit Historic Pithole and get a tour of the grounds (check Facebook for details). Admission charged. 10 am-3 pm.

Eckley Miners’ Village
June 24-25: Patch Town Days Irish Fest—this year's program focuses on the lives of Irish immigrants to a Pennsylvania coal patch town. Music, food, dancers, and a "St. Patrick's Day in June" parade. There will also be vintage baseball games both days. Admission charged. 10 am-5 pm both days.

Fort Pitt Museum
June 24: Lecture and Book-signing—Dr. Patrick Spero will present "When Pittsburgh was Virginia," exploring various 18th-century boundary and territorial disputes in western PA and Ohio. He will sign copies of his latest book, Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students and Heinz History Center members (please register online). 11 am-12:30 pm.

Hope Lodge
June 24: Ales and Petals—bring your lawn chairs and/or picnic blankets, tour the mansion, and (only if you're age 21+) sample craft beers and ciders. Food will be available from Tonellis of Lafayette Hill and the Mason Porter band will perform from 1 to 3 pm. General admission fees apply; there is an additional $5 per person charge for beer and cider tasting (more info on website) and food is extra. Event runs 1-5 pm.

Old Economy Village
June 24: An American Celebration—enjoy music, storytelling, artisan demos, antique cars, and food as you explore the Village. All included in regular admission. 10 am-5 pm. (Rain date: June 25, 10 am-5 pm.)

Pennsbury Manor
June 25: Bitters, Blubs, and Brewing—visit the gardens and brew house to see what's on offer. Included in regular admission. 1-4 pm.
June 25: Make Your Own Bitters Workshop—Pennsbury has partnered with Boardroom Spirits Distillery for this hands-on workshop. Bitters were thought to be good for one's health and were taken almost daily in the 17th and 18th centuries. Learn how these elixirs are made. Must be 21 or older. Cost is $20 (free for members); pre-register by calling 215/946-0400. 2-3 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
June 24: Boot Camp Prep Class—designed as an adjunct to Boot Camp for Kids (August), this program will provide group instruction in close order drill, military etiquette, and the history of the 28th Division Shrine. Cost is $25 and includes lunch. Registration is required (info and form); contact Friends of the Military Museum for details. 10 am-3 pm.

State Museum and Archives Complex
June 24-25: Closed to the public—as part of the State Museum's ongoing electrical upgrades project, the Museum and Archives will be closed to the public this weekend. The Complex will also be closed July 15-16.

A June Roundup on the Trails of History

The June program page has info on upcoming events and programs. I've highlighted some of this weekend's offerings below.

Logo for 50th Art of the State exhibit
See more about Art of the State on the State Museum Facebook page

The State Museum of PA, in conjunction with Jump Street (a Harrisburg-based arts organization), has opened the 50th Art of the State Exhibit, which will run through Sept. 10. At the opening reception for the exhibit, prize winners were announced in five categories of artwork (photos of prize winners and scenes from the reception), selected from entries submitted by artists around the state (photo gallery of all finalists included in exhibit).

Sunday, June 11, marked the 90th anniversary of the Lindbergh Special run. On June 11, 1927, the Pennsylvania Railroad's locomotive No. 460 raced an airplane from Washington, DC, to New York City. Both were carrying newsreel footage of a ceremony honoring Charles Lindbergh's successful nonstop solo flight from New York to Paris (completed on May 21, 1927). The race was to see which mode of transport could get the footage to theaters in New York first. The plane, even then, covered the distance faster, but the train carried its own darkroom, so the film was developed (look it up) en route and was ready for showing when the train arrived in NYC. The footage carried by plane still had to be developed when it reached the city. The 460 is now part of the permanent collection of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, where it is on display in Rolling Stock Hall following a multi-year restoration project. It is destined to be on display in the Museum's new Roundhouse exhibit building, when it is completed. You can read much more about the project on the museum's website or in the Spring 2016 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage magazine. UPDATE: the museum has posted a short video from the dedication of No. 460 after it was restored.

Fly casting at PA Lumber Museum Youth Field Day
Fly casting instruction at PA Lumber Museum Youth and Family Field Day (more photos on Facebook)
Last weekend, the PA Lumber Museum held a Youth and Family Field Day where participants learned outdoor skills related to life in the lumber region. While much of the museum's exhibitry and programming is focused on the history of lumbering, another focus is preserving a balance among economic development, environmental protection, and recreational use of the forests and other natural areas. The activity stations for the field day were staffed by instructors from the museum and other local organizations. Site administrator Josh Roth reports that the instructors were pleased with how engaged the kids were and everyone seemed to have a great time learning new stuff and enjoying the outdoors (it was National Get Outdoors Day, by the way). One parent emailed on Monday to report that her son had enjoyed the day very much and was planning to return to the event next year (a sentiment expressed by a number of attendees. "He loved all the classes but seemed to pick up on Fly Fishing. We got home and he wanted to order a fly pole right away but I remember that his papa had a pole. I went digging and cleaned it all up for him. He practiced with that pole until 9:30 pm and then the next day went fishing! He didn't catch anything but it didn't matter to him, he loves it! Thanks Again!!!" I think you can consider that a rave review.

Eckley Archaeology Project Summer 2017
Eckley Archaeology Project 2017 has begun (via Facebook)

For the third summer (I think), a team from the University of Maryland is holding an archaeology field school on site at Eckley Miners' Village. This year's crew, made up of students, faculty members, and volunteers, started above ground by documenting extant outbuildings. Site administrator Bode Morin reports that the team found 160 outbuildings still standing. Eckley shares info about the field school on its Facebook page, but the Eckley Archaeology Project also has its own Facebook page and a blog detailing their work.

June 19 to 25 is #MuseumWeek, an international social media event showcasing museums, their collections, and the people who love them. The event started on Twitter but has expanded to include other platforms including Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Sina (in China). The overall focus this year is Women in Culture (#WomenMW), and each day has a different hashtag (6/19 - #foodMW; 6/20 - #sportsMW; 6/21 - #musicMW; 6/22 - #storiesMW; 6/23 - #booksMW; 6/24 - #travelsMW; 6/25 - #heritageMW). We always have some participation from sites on the Trails of History, so be sure to follow your favorite site. As you'll see below, Old Economy Village is out in front, previewing their links to some of the hashtags.



Other posts of interest...


Bushy Run Battlefield
June 17: Community Picnic—enjoy live music, children's games, and battlefield tours. $4 fee includes museum admission and tours; there will be food trucks on site if you want to purchase food (or bring your own picnic). Noon-5 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
June 17: Evening on the Green—this program includes colonial crafts and games, and live music by the Celtic Martin Family (more details on Facebook). Admission for this rain or shine event is $20 per car (free for FDBH members with membership card). Overall event time is 5-9 pm.

Ephrata Cloister
June 18: Father’s Day—enjoy a day out with dad and explore a unique historic site. Dads get in free. Noon-5 pm.

Graeme Park
June 18: Living History Sunday—learn about "Fathers and Family in the 1700s," featuring Dr. Thomas Graeme. Interactive living history throughout the event with a brief talk at 2 pm. Noon-3 pm.

Hope Lodge
June 18: Site open—Hope Lodge will be open the third Sunday of each month through October, with guided tours offered at 1 and 2:30 pm. Admission is charged. Free admission today for dads, in honor of Father's Day. 1-4 pm.

Old Economy Village
June 17: Saturday SpotlightNiceties and Necessities. Included in regular admission, so please start at the Visitor Center. 10 am-5 pm.

Pennsbury Manor
June 17: Brews & Bites at Pennsbury Manor—sample beers from Philadelphia-area craft brewers and enjoy food, musical entertainment, and demonstrations of historic beer brewing. The event page has info on ticket options; tickets are on sale now. Must be at least 21 to attend. 4-8 pm.
June 18: Sunday Programming—June 18: Open Hearth Cooking—the cooks will prepare 16th-, 17th-, and 18th-century recipes to explore how cooking techniques were evolving. Included in regular admission. 1-4 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
June 18: 3rd Sunday Program—dads get free admission today in honor of Father's Day and this month's 3rd Sunday Program is a documentary about Gifford Pinchot, considered one of the fathers of American forestry. Museum is open 9 am-5 pm; documentary showing is at 1 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
June 17-18: Guided Tours—on June weekends, the 1 pm guided tour is included in regular admission (normally an additional charge).
June 17: Buzzcut Saturday—just what it sounds like. Start the summer with a traditional boot camp haircut. Donations accepted or free with museum admission. 10 am-3 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
June 16: Free Summer Friday—throughout the summer, museum admission will be free on Fridays. Learn at Lunchtime programming will also be offered (program details). Museum open 9 am-5 pm, lunchtime programming 12:15-12:45 pm.
June 18: Victorian Dance Ensemble—the performing troupe of the Civil War Dance Foundation will present demonstrations of period costume and dance. Museum admission is free. The museum is open noon-5 pm, dance demos at 1, 2, and 3 pm in Memorial Hall.

National Get Outdoors Day

The June program page has info on events and activities on the Trails of History through the end of the month.

Stan Hess leads walk on sustainable forestry trail
Retired forester Stan Hess leads a wildflower walk on the PA Lumber Museum's Sustainable Forestry Trail, May 2017 (via Facebook)
Tomorrow, June 10, is National Get Outdoors Day. I know, it snuck up on me too. Always does. I read about it in the electronic newsletter of the PA Parks and Forests Foundation. I was reminded of a tourism study from last year (I think) that showed that people who like to do outdoor activities also seem to really like exploring history (going to historic sites, etc.).

And that made me think about how many sites on the PA Trails of History offer some of both to the public. Many of our sites have beautiful grounds and parkland that people enjoy just for the sake of being outdoors. They may not even think about the history nearby. And many of our sites are looking for ways to gently remind those folks about the work and investment (of public and private dollars) it takes to maintain the grounds and preserve the history. But I digress.

Increasingly, staff and volunteers at PHMC sites are working with colleagues at state parks, which are part of the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), to provide the public with experiences that satisfy or nurture historical curiosity alongside an appreciation of nature and of sustainable ways to interact with nature. (You may know that in early 2016, Washington Crossing Historic Park formally moved from PHMC's portfolio to DCNR's although it remains part of the PA Trails of History.) Recently, two programs came across my radar that reflect the cooperation between the two agencies.

Eckley Miners' Village forsythia
Spring at Eckley (via Facebook)
Last Thursday, as part of a program series geared to older adults and retirees, staff from Nescopeck State Park in Luzerne County teamed up with staff from Eckley Miners' Village. Attendees toured the village, learning about the history of anthracite mining, life in a patch town, and features of the natural landscape. Eckley has also been working to regularly interpret (through graphics panels on the grounds) natural features and the geology of coal, as well as attracting outdoor enthusiasts using the newly expanded Rails-to-Trails project connecting the village to Hazleton.

In late May, 73 students from Northern Potter Middle School visited the PA Lumber Museum. A Facebook post by the school district recounted that the students "toured the museum and the grounds and learned about lumber uses and the history of the lumber industry in Pennsylvania. They learned how foresters use different types of maps to make forestry decisions as well." Museum staff report that the students were really engaged and interested. The group then moved on to Lyman Run State Park, where they participated in hands-on activities to learn about logging methods and how loggers floated logs downstream. In addition, they assisted the museum with testing out a raft-building exercise for an upcoming summer camp program. (Photos of all of these activities are in the School District's Facebook post.)

In a different vein, The State Museum of PA's popular Story Time program moved outside last week to take advantage of some tree-shaded areas outside the museum.

Outdoor special events planned for June 10 are listed below. There are many more opportunities to be outdoors on the Trails of History (check the June program listing for more info):

Fort Pitt Museum
Living History Series—today's focus is the Ft. Pitt Fife and Drum Corps. Noon-4 pm.

Old Economy Village
Saturday Spotlight19th-century Foodways: Bread-baking and Cooking. Included in regular admission, so please start at the Visitor Center. 10 am-5 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Youth and Family Field Day—this event, which runs 9 am-4 pm, is geared for students between the ages of 10 and 16, accompanied by an adult family member. Qualified instructors will teach a variety of outdoor skills: Wildlife Identification, Turkey Lore/Calling, Archery, Pellet Shooting, Astronomy (observing the sun through a special telescope), Fly Casting, Trapping, and Tree Identification. Thanks to sponsorships, this event is free, but registration is required. Registration closed yesterday, so if you're interested you must call TODAY, June 9, to see if space is available.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Historical and Nature-related Programs—environmental educator Katie Scott will lead a river's edge bird-watching session, 8:30-9:30 am (meet at the visitor center), and staff from Bucks County Library (Yardley branch) will offer storytime and a nature activity for kids of all ages, 2:30-3:30 pm in the picnic area across from the visitor center (visit Washington Crossing's events page for more information.

Updated info - additional outdoor opportunities on the Trails of History:

Ephrata Cloister is participating in the Ephrata Public Library's "Get Outdoors" program, as one of the stops on the program's landmarks scavenger hunt. Kids and their families use a map to visit parks and other outdoor venues in and around Ephrata. Each stop has a post with a metal symbol on top that is used to make a rubbing on the map. Ephrata Cloister's post represents a post office. For more information visit the project website.

Summer Break and Other Odysseys

The June program page is now up and running.

Even for those of us who don't have kids in school and whose school days are long behind us (show of hands?), the end of the school year signals the beginning of summer. Plus it's now hurricane season, so that counts as summer as well, even though the solstice isn't until the 21st.

Summer is the busiest time of year for most sites on the Trails of History. You'll find lots of programs, summer camps, craft workshops. It's a great time to take advantage of outdoor activities at sites, exploring gardens and trails and enjoying numerous festivals. The June program page will get you started with this month's activities, but find your favorite site on social media to get a look at the whole summer.


The Trails of History participate in the Blue Star Museums program, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day, providing free regular admission for active duty military and their families. Actually the Trails of History offer that deal all year, so if you know folks who qualify, please be sure to point them in our direction.

Family museum pass programs are available in several parts of the state. While details vary, families can check out a pass good for free general admission and hold onto it for a week. It's a great way for families to explore their local museums. At least one of our sites also noted that the pass had encouraged older visitors as well. Erie Maritime Museum passes are available through the Erie County Library System. Pennsylvania Lumber Museum passes can be found through the Potter-Tioga Library System and the S.W. Smith Library in Port Allegany. Ephrata Cloister, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, and the Railroad Museum of PA are all part of the Library System of Lancaster County Family Museum Pass program. Check it out!

While visiting our sites during the summer (or anytime), we love it when you share your photos. You can do so via sites' Facebook pages or Twitter feeds; some are on Instagram as well. There are often also local or regional opportunities, such as the summer 2017 Bucks County photo and video challenge, promoted here by Pennsbury Manor.


In other news...

Today, June 2, 11 am-4 pm, the Railroad Museum of PA is hosting a blood drive in cooperation with the Central PA Blood Bank (details). In addition to the feeling of doing good for others, donors will receive one free adult admission to the museum and a pair of ticket vouchers for a Lancaster Barnstormers home game during the current season. If you're in the central PA area but can't donate today, visit the blood bank's website for info on additional opportunities.

June 8 is the deadline to register for the Lumber Museum's free Youth and Family Field Day, scheduled for Saturday, June 10. You can find more info and registration details on the museum's Facebook page. Did I mention the event is free? But, you must pre-register.

Today through June 8, the Cinemark Tinseltown in Erie will run a promo for daysails on the U.S. Brig Niagara before all movie showings. Enjoy!

Memorials and Monuments

The May program page has info for the upcoming weekend and remaining days of the month. Please note that most, but not all, Trails of History sites will be open on May 29 for Memorial Day. The May listings indicate which sites are open (to the best of my knowledge). (The June program page is now available as well.)

Although it often falls outside of Memorial Day weekend, the 28th Infantry Division's annual "Celebration of Service" held on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum embodies the spirit of the holiday. The museum grounds include the 28th Division Shrine memorial wall, which honors soldiers who died in World War I and World War II, as well as later monuments to those killed in subsequent military conflicts. The May event brings together military personnel and civilians to commemorate those who have died in service to their country and to recognize all who served and who are currently serving. This year's event also honored Gold Star Families, who have lost loved ones in service. You'll find photos on Facebook posted by museum staff (photo album of event), and Gov. Tom Wolf, who attended with First Lady Frances Wolf, posted images on his official page (see below).


Currently, we are working on new exhibits for the Military Museum that we hope will reflect the broad range of service and sacrifice by Pennsylvanians in military service and on the home front, from the French and Indian War forward. This is, we recognize, a story that does not have a conclusion, as we are not likely to see an end to war. The history of who fights and who stays home is not the same for every conflict and has changed over time. It is my hope that we can engage with visitors in an exploration of what this means for us as communities, as a state, and as a nation.

And if I may add, on the subject of monuments and strictly on my own behalf, if you have not read or watched New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's speech on the removal of Confederate monuments from prominent public venues in his city, I recommend it. Not everyone will agree on his conclusions, but in my opinion, he eloquently explores complicated issues of public history and memory and the impact of our choices that we may not think about. (Text and video can be found on the City of New Orleans website.)

In other news...

Bushy Run Battlefield has geared up for the season and recently held their annual spring tea. Their spring and fall tea events have become very popular and generally sell out. The tables were themed to represent the Native American, Highlander, British, and Colonial participants in the Battle of Bushy Run, and volunteers provided short presentations on the history to those in attendance. The folks at the site also took the opportunity to promote other programs and activities planned for the summer and fall.

Highlander table at Bushy Run spring tea
Highland-themed table at Bushy Run's Spring Tea (more images on Facebook)

The 2017 PHMC Keystone Interns have started their summer with us. This year, Keystone interns can be found at the State Museum, the State Archives, the State Historic Preservation Office, and Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. I'm hoping that, as in past summers, some of the interns will be guest blogging on Trailheads to share their projects and interests with us.

2017 PHMC Keystone Interns
2017 PHMC Keystone Interns (photo Amy Jukus)

Monday, May 22, was National Maritime Day, which we celebrate even in mostly land-locked Pennsylvania. I'll leave you with two posts from the Trails of History and wish you a safe and meaningful holiday weekend.


Museum Memories

The May program page has info for this weekend and the remainder of the month. Please check it out if you're looking for something to do.

Everyday is "something" day on the Internet, usually many different "somethings." Tuesday, May 16, was Museum Memories Day (#MusMem). I tweeted that my earliest museum memories were of the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis (now part of a larger museum system in the city where I was born and where music pioneer W.C. Handy gave birth to the blues). I have many happy memories of my mother walking my brother and me there to see things that were familiar (we always followed the same route through the museum, as I recall), including the hollowed out log that had holes in it for you to stick your hand in and feel the taxidermied, I want to say, skunk (or weasel? or badger?). But there were changing exhibits, too - I remember a pair of red shoes from the Wizard of Oz (not the same pair the Smithsonian is conserving?). It was also a place that at an alarmingly early age (7, I think) I walked by myself to meet friends from school to wander around the museum and grounds. I felt at home there. It was my place. And although I have not been there in more than 40 years, I have no doubt that it helped to shape my sense of self, not to mention my career choice.

I have many other museum memories - museum visiting is both a cause and an effect of working in the museum field. Tons of visits to museums and historic sites with family and friends, rarely a vacation that doesn't include one or more. Some visits are milestones in my relationship with my husband ("marching bellhops" to see if he's reading). I won't bore you with all of them here. But all of this to say that sometimes a theme is in my head as I read through social media posts and newsletters from sites on the Trails of History. That was the case this week, so here are some of the things that stuck out at me.

Ephrata Student Historians 2009
Ephrata Cloister Student Historians 2009 (photo E Bertheaud)
Two items in the April issue of the Ephrata Cloister Associates newsletter spoke to the idea of museum memories and the lasting effects museums can have on our lives (even the lives of people who don't choose museum work as a career - shocking, I know). First item: Volunteers Randy and Jolene Newcomer celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary while helping visitors enjoy the buildings and exhibits on Charter Day (March 12). The two met while in high school when they were both Student Historians at Ephrata. That's a long-term commitment to history! Second item: While on their honeymoon in October 1983, Neil and Liz Cotter toured Ephrata Cloister. Their guide was a local student, volunteering on weekends while attending nearby Millersville University. Thirty-three years later, they visited again and were greeted by that same young man (I can say that because I am older than he), now Ephrata's museum educator and a seasoned interpretation professional. The Cotters recognized Michael Showalter as having been their guide and when they returned home, they sent along a picture of him that they had taken on their previous visit. (And Michael now leads the Student Historians program, so we've come full circle back to the first item.)

Inspired by my newsletter reading, I went looking for memories of our sites that visitors had shared on social media. Needless to say, there were many. I picked a couple to share:


And a third post that I'll use to remind you that from Memorial Day to Labor Day, PA Trails of History sites will be participating in the Blue Star Museums program, which provides free admission to active duty military personnel and their families. PHMC sites offer this all year round; participating in the Blue Star Museums program helps us get the word out to eligible families. In March of this year, Willy Paulino wrote a review on the Anthracite Heritage Museum's Facebook page noting that as a military spouse, he was able to take his kids to visit for free. "Great way to give back! Thank you guys for your support!" Thank you to the Paulinos and all the military families who serve our country.

And thank you to the museums and historic sites, on and off the PA Trails of History, who help people every day to create their own lasting museum memories.

7 Trails of History Photos You Might Have Missed

The May programs page has info on events this weekend and beyond.

Landis Valley Museum greenhouse
Greenhouse at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum in advance of this weekend's Herb and Garden Faire (via Facebook)

Sue Bowman's April 28 article on LancasterFarming.com, "Iron Stoves Were Hot Items: Historian Traces Stove Plate Style," provided a recap of Richard Martin's April 11 lecture, "Warm Your Hands Here," part of Cornwall Iron Furnace's monthly lecture series. It's an interesting read on the evolution of iron stoves and an overview of southeastern PA iron furnaces, of which Cornwall is a notable example. Visit Cornwall's website for a schedule of upcoming lectures and programs.


Curiosity corner at Anthracite spring garden tea
One of the activities at the Anthracite Heritage Museum's recent spring tea was a table of historical objects attendees were asked to identify (more photos of the tea on Facebook).


Earth Day tree planting at Eckley Miners' Village
For Earth Day 2017, as they have done for several years, Eckley Miners' Village teamed with Keystone Job Corps Center to plant a tree outside the visitor center. Construction students prepared the site, planted the tree, and toured the village to learn about the lives of coal miners (via Facebook).


Reenactors at Conrad Weiser Homestead
Reenactors at last weekend's Military Timeline at Conrad Weiser Homestead pose with the newly conserved statue honoring men of the Tulpehocken Valley who fought in World War I (via Facebook).


Sheep-shaped cookies at Pennsbury Manor
As a tasty complement to their annual sheep-shearing event, Pennsbury Manor featured sheep-shaped cookies from Cramer's Bakery in their museum store (via Facebook).


Community Day at PA Lumber Museum
Visitors to last weekend's Community Day event at the PA Lumber Museum talked with representatives of numerous local organizations and agencies and braved rainy weather to tour the outdoor portions of the site (via Facebook).


Old Economy Village unveiled its newly expanded blacksmith shop last weekend with an unusual ribbon cutting ceremony...

U.S. World War I Centennial Continues and Other News

The May program page has info on upcoming events on the PHMC's Trails of History.

Updates on World War I Centennial on the Trails of History

Among the events happening this weekend is a military history timeline at Conrad Weiser Homestead, with reenactors representing PA German units who fought in US conflicts from the French and Indian War up through WWI. A highlight of the event will be the "American doughboy" statue honoring men of the Tulpehocken Valley who served during WWI. Over the years, the statue had become dirty, and the surface was invaded by algae. Professional conservators from the firm of B.R. Howard and Associates (under contract to PHMC) cleaned the statue and treated it with a biocide to kill the algae. Now it looks much better, more like its original appearance, and just in time for the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I.

Weiser doughboy statue during cleaning BRHoward
Weiser doughboy statue after cleaning BR Howard
(Top) Doughboy statue during cleaning
(Bottom) Statue after cleaning and treatment with biocide (photos B.R. Howard & Associates)


I remember one of my grandmothers, who was born in 1907, talking about knitting socks for the soldiers in WWI. Knitting for the soldiers has been an important part of home front activities in many American wars. It strikes me as a highly personal connection between the knitters and the recipients, who may know each other well or who may never ever meet in person. Kudos to Somerset Historical Center for a hands-on lesson about the home front.

Community Connections

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a historic site with beautiful grounds must be in want of throngs of prom-goers lining up to take photos (sorry, Jane). This spring, Ephrata Cloister embraced that truth and decided to reach out more systematically to local high schools. They've scheduled the photo opportunities, staffed information tables to promote programs and membership, and provided complimentary snacks and refreshments. The first weekend drew about 375 people (including prom-goers and families). The primary purpose of this effort was to be a good neighbor, but there have been benefits as well in the form of museum store sales and greater community awareness and appreciation of the site, its beauty, and its history.

On May 2, members of the Pennsylvania Cultural Response Team (PCRT) were at the Pennsylvania State Archives for a hands-on disaster recovery exercise. Along with Archives staff, the team of emergency management and cultural professionals simulated a flood response involving archival and library materials. The PCRT members have been trained in recovery and preservation techniques so that they can assist anywhere in the state when cultural and heritage collections are affected by flooding, fire, or other disasters. They shared some video of Tuesday's drill on Facebook (see below). Staff from the State Archives will also be assisting communities in June with their popular "Archives Without Tears" workshop designed for anyone who is responsible for archival and/or historical records (program brochure and registration info.)



The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum recently posted a thank you to several Galeton businesses who sponsored a visit to the museum by the Gale-Pride after school program.

Drake Well Museum and Park has received funding from the Oil Regional Alliance Educational Mini-Grants Program and the Bridge Builders Community Foundation to fund their new "Transportation Scholarship" program. The funding will subsidize transportation costs for some 800 6th graders in 10 public schools within the Oil Regional National Heritage Area so that they can participate in the Museum's School Tour program.

Last week, in the midst of getting the ship ready for the sailing season, the crew of U.S. Brig Niagara helped with waterfront cleanup in the area around the Erie Maritime Museum and shared some photos on Facebook.

Niagara crew helped with waterfront cleanup April 2017
Niagara crew with their clean-up haul (via Facebook)

Honoring Volunteers for Service in 2016

The April program page has info on events this weekend, and the May page is up for those of you who like to plan ahead.

On Saturday, April 22, folks from all over the Trails of History gathered at The State Museum of Pennsylvania to celebrate our Volunteers of the Year for service in 2016. PHMC Commissioners Ophelia Chambliss, Bill Lewis, and Fred Powell joined James Vaughan, PHMC executive director, Brenda Reigle, director of the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, and Beth Hager, director of The State Museum, to present resolutions, volunteer pins, and complimentary family memberships in the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation. Most of our attendees were able to be on hand for this festive occasion.


The honorees are pictured below, and there is a link for each so that you can read more about their volunteer activities. Please join me in congratulating them and thanking them for their support of PHMC's historic sites and museums.

Maureen McGuigan and Alysia Scazafabo-Adam, Anthracite Heritage Museum & Scranton Iron Furnaces (citation)

Ralph Denlinger, Brandywine Battlefield Park (citation)

Margaret Herron, Bushy Run Battlefield (citation)

Harold Taylor, Conrad Weiser Homestead (citation)

Maxine Coopey, Cornwall Iron Furnace (citation)

Deb Drager, Daniel Boone Homestead (citation)

Jane Bradshaw, Drake Well Museum (citation)

Gina Gibbon, Eckley Miners' Village (citation)

Cathie Oliphant, Ephrata Cloister (citation)

Bill Koehle, Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara (citation)

Diane Horan, Graeme Park (citation)

Hope Webster Kopf, Joseph Priestley House (citation)

Carol Vogt and Dee Perry, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (citation)

Sandy Smailer, Old Economy Village (citation)

Val Long and Steve Ringel, Pennsbury Manor (citation)

Carola Glennon, PA Lumber Museum (citation)

Scott Davis, PA Military Museum (citation)

Stu Jack, Railroad Museum of PA (citation)

Terry Werner (2nd from right), Somerset Historical Center (citation)

Merikay Wood, State Museum of PA (citation)

Outstanding Service Award, John "Augie" Holtz, Drake Well Museum and Park (citation)

An April Roundup

There are plenty of Trails of History activities still to come this month; the April program page has the details.

The Trailheads post on April 6 highlighted the 100th anniversary of U.S. entry into World War I. I missed noting that, in addition to a full calendar of programming, the PA Military Museum has put together a temporary exhibit on the Boal Troop, which was organized and trained on the grounds now occupied by the museum. The Boal Troop saw service during the Mexican Border campaign in 1916 and in France during WWI. If you aren't able to get to the temporary exhibit, you'll find info on the Boal Troop on PMM's website; the troop will also be highlighted in the museum's new core exhibit currently under design.

Boal Troop exhibit at PA Military Museum
Temporary exhibit on the Boal Troop (photo PA Military Museum)
You might also like to catch up with WITF's "Smart Talk" program on April 6 that featured State Museum director Beth Hager and Richard Saylor of the PA State Archives talking about the WWI poster exhibit now on display at the State Museum.

Thank you to our contributors...

Last week, Rob Coates of PHMC's Preservation Construction Field Services section shared with me a before-and-after photo of a project he and his crew recently completed. The Landis House privy (at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum) was in bad shape. Rob and crew "removed the structure and transported it back to Daniel Boone Homestead, completed a total restoration of the structure, then returned it to the site and placed it on a new foundation." The Field Services crew works on projects all over the Trails of History; their workshop at Daniel Boone Homestead allows them to keep projects moving forward during the winter, when the weather isn't cooperative.

Landis House privy before and after restoration
Landis House privy before (L) and after (R) restoration (photo Rob Coates)

Drake Well Museum curator Sue Beates sent me some info on the latest appearance of images from the museum's collection in a major oil industry publication. The most recent issue of Connections (published by Oiltanking, an oil storage company founded in Hamburg, German) includes images from Tarr Farm and Tidioute. Sue reported that the oil droplets on the cover are heat-activated; they turned black after cooling down from the scanner/copier.

Page from Connections magazine with historic oil industry images
Cover of Connections magazine showing 3 drops of oil
(Top) Historic images of oil industry from Drake Well collection (photo Sue Beates)
(Bottom) Cover of April issue of Connections magazine

Frequent Trailheads contributor Linda Bolla sent the following info from Erie last week: There’s a real energy on the [Erie Maritime Museum] Plaza as U.S. Brig Niagara’s crew works to prepare for up rig next week (subscribe to the ship's YouTube channel to watch the action). Also, Erie Harbor welcomed a semi-annual visit from a special U.S. Coast Guard vessel, which means sailing season is coming soon. USCGC Hollyhock tied up overnight at Dobbins Landing last Tuesday, April 11th, visiting Erie to tend to maintenance on floating buoys and other aids-to-navigation along our stretch of Lake Erie. This 225-foot Seagoing Buoy Tender’s primary missions are maintaining nearly 150 aids-to-navigation on the lower Great Lakes, search and rescue, environmental protection, and domestic ice-breaking. Little ice-breaking was done during this unusually mild winter on Lake Erie, and kayakers are already out on Misery Bay at Presque Isle, braving windy conditions to get a first look at nesting birds and wildlife emerging from winter naps.

USCGC Hollyhock docked in Erie April 2017
USCGC Hollyhock docked at Dobbins Landing, Erie (photo Linda Bolla)

And I couldn't resist sharing this post of Niagara's crew training for the upcoming sailing season. It made me smile. Enjoy your weekend!

Spring is Springing

The April program page has all you need to know about what there is to do on the PA Trails of History. Please note that most sites will be closed on Sunday, April 16. However, The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and The State Museum of Pennsylvania will be open regular Sunday hours, noon to 5 pm.

With spring finally getting its feet under it, sites have been sharing photos of historic and natural landscapes coming to life. This week, I thought I'd just share some of those and let you enjoy. We'll be back with more news and recaps next week.



Grape hyacinth at Landis Valley Museum
Grape hyacinth at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (via Facebook)




Sustainable forestry trail at PA Lumber Museum
Signs of spring on the Sustainable Forestry Trail at the PA Lumber Museum (via Facebook)