Snapshots from the Trails of History

See below for info on this weekend's events on the Trails of History. Visit the May program page for additional information or to plan ahead for Memorial Day weekend.

There were some great visuals shared this week by sites on the Trails of History. Here are just a few of them for your viewing pleasure.

Variety of old metal paper clips removed from documents at Drake Well Museum
Photo via Drake Well Museum Facebook page
This looks like some kind of encoded message to me, but it is actually an array of metal paper clips removed from historic documents at Drake Well Museum and Park. According to Drake Well's Facebook post, a volunteer at the museum has been assisting with caring for documents from the United Refining Company Collection by removing the metal clips, pins, etc., and replacing them with plastic (metal fasteners have a tendency to rust and can do damage to long-term paper collections). Drake Well staff did some research to identify some of the clips:
Who thinks about the history of paperclips? The Early Office Museum does. That’s where I found information about the ones Mary Jane found. Left to Right Top Row: Mussian Paper Clip 1902; Owl 1905 to the present: Niagara clip patented 1897 and advertised until 1950; Standard Paper Clip advertised 1910-1941; Fay Paper Clip originally patented in 1867 and manufactured by many companies after 1896; straight pins; Rinklip patented 1903 and still made; Gem patented in 1903 still used. Bottom Row: little straight pin; Improved Niagara Paper Clip advertised 1908-1950; T-shaped pins were machine made for clothing by 1836 but were patented as paper clips in 1902. The rest are stamped out of sheet metal – star, smiley face and heart with no known maker – yet.

Two Drake Well Museum staffers host display at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
Photo via Drake Well Museum Facebook page
Also this week, folks from Drake Well's Mobile Energy Education Training Unit (MEET-U) staffed a display booth at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh. They promoted MEET-U programs, Drake Well, and the PHMC at this annual event that features nearly 2,000 high schoolers showcasing their inventions and independent research to approximately 11,000 attendees.

Army soldiers running the paths at PA Military Museum on a cloudy morning
Photo courtesy of PA Military Museum
Yesterday morning (Thursday, May 17) roughly 100 U.S. Army soldiers mustered on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Military Museum for PT (physical training). It's a little hard to see in the photo (I was afraid to crop too much of the scene), but the soldiers were running on the paths that circumnavigate the parade grounds. This Sunday, May 20, the grounds will be crowded with military equipment and personnel for the Pennsylvania National Guard's annual Celebration of Service.

PA Railroad round metal baggage tags marked "emigrant" (19th century?)
Photo via Railroad Museum of PA Facebook page
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania posted a photo on Facebook of two rare baggage tags. The museum's collections include thousands of fascinating objects with stories to tell.
The story of the United States of America is one of migration of individuals, families and communities traveling to these shores and over this land, motivated by a quest for something better in life. These emigrant baggage tags were discovered in the ground in western Pennsylvania and are a rare find of tags issued by the Pennsylvania Railroad in Philadelphia, and made by the Hoole Manufacturing Company of New York.

Pennsbury Manor has introduced apiaries (bee hives) into the orchards (see video below from Facebook). Students attending the Pennsylvania Day school program in two weeks will get the first look at new bee-centered educational programs at the site.

This weekend...

Get out there and enjoy

There's lots to do on the PHMC's Trails of History this weekend, so get out there.

Summer flowers are here or coming (photo AKF)
Anthracite Heritage Museum
May 12: 250 Years of Anthracite Mining—members of the Leadership Lackawanna Core Program Class of 2018 will join museum staff and volunteers to mark two and a half centuries of history in the anthracite region. Members of the class raised funds for a commemorative plaque, which will be unveiled at 10 am (see more info on Facebook event page). Program is free and open to the public. 9 am-noon.

Brandywine Battlefield
May 12: Encampment Day—please check the website for updates. 10 am-4 pm.

Bushy Run Battlefield
May 12: Spring Nature Walk—this annual event takes participants on an exploration of the woods and fields around the site; cost is $5, free for members of Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society. No registration required; wear sturdy, water-resistant walking or hiking shoes and dress for the weather. 10 am.

Daniel Boone Homestead
May 12: Tavern Night—this fundraiser event will include food and beverage samples from local eateries and wineries, eighteenth-century tavern games throughout the evening, and music performed by County Line. Cost is $30 per person, $50 per couple; advance tickets only, none sold at the door (more info on website). 5-9 pm.

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
May 12: Little Mates Discovery Day—family-friendly hands-on maritime activities. Event is free. 10 am-2 pm.

Graeme Park
May 13: Mother's Day Breakfast—enjoy a delicious meal and tour the Keith House. Prepaid reservations are required and can be made online (link to Eventbrite). Seatings at 10:30, 11, and 11:30 am.

Hope Lodge
May 13: Site open—Hope Lodge is open for tours every Sunday through October. Admission is charged. 1-4 pm.

Joseph Priestley House
May 13: Mother's Day—site closed.

Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
May 11-12: Herb & Garden Faire—so many plants, plus lectures by gardening experts, garden furniture, herbal products and baked goods, and lots of great food by local groups and caterers (details here). Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 ages 6-11 (free for ages 0-5 and Landis Valley Associates members). 9 am-5 pm.

Old Economy Village
May 12: Garden Mart—the Garden Mart offers free admission to OEV’s gardens, where you can purchase heirloom varieties from the greenhouses and browse among vendors and local garden-related organizations (more info on website). 9 am-2 pm.

Pennsbury Manor
May 13: Sunday Programming—"Living History Theater: Tea and Gossip." Included in regular admission. 1-4 pm.
May 12: Yoga Classes—two offerings today: Shake Your Soul Yoga (10-11 am) and Shake Your Seat Yoga (noon-1 pm), which uses a chair to assist with balance. Both classes incorporate elements of movement therapy, Qi Gong, yoga, and dance; no formal dance or yoga training is required. Register online: Shake Your Soul Yoga or Shake Your Seat Yoga.

The Future is Here

Please be sure to check out the May program page for events this weekend and the rest of the month.


PA Lumber Museum hosted the Potter County Conservation District's 2018 Envirothon on Thursday. High school students tested their knowledge on a variety of environmental science topics. The winning team goes on to the state level contest. (See PLM's Facebook page for more info. UPDATE: see a photo of the winning team, from Coudersport, getting their awards.)

A number of items (including the photo above) drifted across my screen in the last couple of weeks that focused my attention on the "younger generation." Or generations, I guess I should say. So I thought I'd highlight some activities involving high school and college students. I'm sure there are other stories out there - feel free to share in the comments.

Interns and apprentices will be starting their summers on the Trails of History soon. Some applied through the PHMC's Keystone Summer Internship or Summer Apprenticeship programs. Some interns applied to their host sites directly or through their schools. Depending on their assignment and interests, they will learn construction and restoration skills, care and management of object and archival collections, interpretation of historic sites, management of historic preservation programs, and much more. I hope that you'll hear from some of them through guest blog posts on Trailheads (I'll be recruiting heavily once they get started). It's always a pleasure to see new faces and learn about their career plans. (If you're a former PHMC intern, give us a shout in the comments to let us know what you're up to - I know some of you are right here at PHMC.)

My Google Alerts clued me in to a story about the Sewickley Herald's 2018 Emerging Citizen, Katie Rostek, a senior at Quaker Valley High School, near Ambridge. Among many other activities, Katie is a member of Old Economy Village's Young Harmonist group, which learns about the history of the community and shares it with the public. According to the article, she plans to double major in political science and secondary education at Penn State. Congratulations to Katie and to all of our younger volunteers who are graduating high school and moving on to the next chapter in their lives.

Bushy Run volunteers on Charter Day 2018 celebrate funds raised (via Facebook)
When we talked about Charter Day programming back in March, I think I mentioned that Bushy Run Battlefield was open on Charter Day for the first time in a while due to the efforts of a local high school student working on her senior project at Penn-Trafford High School. Emily Liska (second from left in the above photo) coordinated activities for Charter Day and organized a marketing campaign (with a GoFundMe component) to help raise awareness of Bushy Run in the local community. She helped raise more than $1,000 to support activities at the site. Emily will be giving a presentation at the high school next week to share what she learned. Thank you, Emily, for your efforts.

I recently learned about an interesting new project through the Eckley Miners' Village volunteer newsletter. This semester, students in Prof. Dan Kimbrough's video class (Misericordia University's Dept. of Mass Communication and Design) have been working on a documentary about the history of Eckley and its impact on the region. As part of the production, they interviewed a number of volunteers and others at the village to gain their insights. Students screened their work yesterday for an audience that included folks from Eckley. Word has it that the documentary will be made available online. I'll share a link if and when I'm able to do so.

Mercyhurst University Dancers perform on the Erie Maritime Museum floor, the wind in our sails!  L-R, Emily Black, Caitlin Cummings and Olivia Duke (photo by Ashlyn Duke Photography, used with permission)
This final item comes from Linda Bolla at Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, who regular readers will recognize as our most prolific guest blogger. Last month, the museum hosted Erie's participation in a project called National Water Dance, "an artist-driven collective of dancers and educators confronting critical water issues facing the United States." With its proximity to Lake Erie, the museum was the perfect venue for this multi-media event led by a group from the Mercyhurst University Departments of Dance and Chemistry.

Doug Lodge performs in the museum lobby, dragging the weight of one week’s single use plastic bottles, as collected by students from Harborcreek Youth Services. (photo by Ashlyn Duke Photography, used with permission)
Linda writes:
Because winds were high and temps were unseasonably low on April 14th, the Erie event did not commence next to the water at 4:00 p.m., as it did simultaneously at other waterways throughout our nation. An indoor start did not diminish anyone’s enthusiasm! The Erie event is unique in its scope: in addition to dance, the museum hosted live jazz, sculpture, poetry and infographs created by Mercyhurst students, along with a multitude of partners from the community. Poetry and art remain on exhibit until May 4th. [editor's note: that's today!]

Highlights from the finale mainstage performance included choreography by Elizabeth Hite, who will graduate this term. Undercurrents is her Senior Capstone thesis project. When interviewed about her work, Elizabeth cited her concerns about the environment as inspiration for this piece, and noted the challenges of representing the beauty of water and the threat to it.
Undercurrents, performed by (1st row, l – r) Jenna Swartz, Emily Black, Sophia Thorman, Caitlyn Cummings, (2nd row, l – r) Olivia Duke, Hannah Schayes, Rachel Rhodanz, Katarina Flores. (photo by Ashlyn Duke Photography, used with permission)

Honoring PHMC's Volunteers of the Year

Please see the April program page for events coming up this weekend and Monday. The May program listing is also available now as well.

Tomorrow, April 28, we will gather to honor volunteers for their service in 2017. The Volunteer of the Year Awards is a wonderful occasion to bring people together from all over the Pennsylvania Trails of History. We get to thank people in person (except for the few not able to join us for the day) for their efforts in support of our sites and museums. And we get to hear about the many skills and talents our volunteers share with the public, whether they work on the front lines or behind the scenes. It's a great way to wrap up National Volunteer Week and National Volunteer Month.

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.

Kathleen Donahue, Anthracite Heritage Museum & Scranton Iron Furnaces (citation)

George Tolton, Brandywine Battlefield Park (citation)

Maxine Ruble, Bushy Run Battlefield (citation)

Anne Killeen, Conrad Weiser Homestead (citation)

Jim Polczynski, Cornwall Iron Furnace (citation)

Lori Schaeffer, Daniel Boone Homestead (citation)

Betty Cosper, Drake Well Museum (citation)

Walter Gilbert, Eckley Miners' Village (citation)

Wayne Gongaware, Ephrata Cloister (citation)

Steve Dusza, Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara (citation)

Phyllis Visco, Graeme Park (citation)

Melanie Hay, Hope Lodge (citation)

Dee Casteel, Joseph Priestley House (citation)

Danielle Retallack, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (citation)

Steve Roberts, Old Economy Village (citation)

Nyla Houser, Pennsbury Manor (citation)

Kenton Greenman, PA Lumber Museum (citation)

Jim Carras, PA Military Museum (citation)

R. Neil Gruber, Railroad Museum of PA (citation)

Wayne Pyle, Somerset Historical Center (citation)

Steve Lantz, State Museum of PA (citation)

Outstanding Service Award, Andrea Bair, The State Museum of Pennsylvania (citation)

Outstanding Service Award, Robert Greenman, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum (citation)

Museum Week and Other Stuff

Please check the April program page for upcoming events. I've highlighted some below, but there's always more to know.


Next week (Monday, April 23, through Sunday, April 29) people who work in museums, people who visit museums, and people who like to read about museums will unite across the world during Museum Week 2018. (There's probably a not very complicated Venn diagram of that previous sentence, since people who work in museums generally fall into the other two categories as well.) This year's overall theme is "Living together, citizenship and tolerance."

The daily hashtags, starting with Monday, Apr. 23, are: #womenMW, #cityMW, #heritageMW, #professionsMW, #kidsMW, #natureMW, and #differenceMW (more info on each). Sites on the Trails of History generally post at least some days during Museum Week; @PHMC will be retweeting, as will I (@AmyKFox). Or follow your favorite museums on Twitter (if you don't already) to see what they're posting. You don't have to work in a museum (or be officially registered) to participate. Just have fun!

Tyler Gum, director of the PA Military Museum, welcomes guests to the PA Museums Awards Ceremony (photo courtesy @museumnotations via Twitter)
Museums from around the state met earlier this week in the State College area during the PA Museums annual conference. Sessions took place at the American Philatelic Society's facility in Bellefonte, with an opening reception held at the Centre Furnace Mansion in State College. The PHMC's Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg hosted the PA Museums Awards Ceremony, where 11 institutional and 2 individual awards were presented.

Crane moving Niagara’s mainmast into place.  Before work ended, the shrouds (hanging) needed to be secured to stabilize the mast. (Photo: Linda Bolla)
Frequent Trailheads guest blogger Linda Bolla, Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, provided photos and an interesting story from this year's uprig of the ship.
As a sailing ship is built, it is traditional to place a coin beneath her mast as it is stepped. This practice is said to have begun with ancient Romans so that, should the ship sink, sailors would have coin to pay Charon the ferryman to cross the River Styx into the afterlife. The tradition may have even older origins, however, as underwater archaeology has found non-Roman vessels to have coins beneath the mast. Today, we continue the tradition with the hope for good luck for this ship and her crew.

Coins placed beneath Niagara's mainmast 2018
Two coins were recovered and cleaned by Niagara’s Carpenter Adam Stanisz when the mainmast was removed late in 2017. A 1990 “Walking Liberty” silver dollar (upper left in above photo) was placed beneath the mainmast when this Niagara was first built. When the mainmast was removed and stepped again in 2000, a golden Sacagawea dollar from that year was added (lower left).

This year three new coins were added. Flagship Niagara League (FNL) Trustee and volunteer crew member Pat Federici donated a Sea Services Challenge Coin (lower middle in above photo) made especially for War of 1812 Bicentennial events at Detroit, MI in September 2012. This coin honors the services of the U. S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard. FNL Trustee Emeritus and long-time Erie Maritime Museum volunteer docent Ed Bolla offered an 1813 silver fifty cent coin (right). Finally, a stunning silver commemorative medal (upper middle) struck for the 2013 Bicentennial of the Battle of Lake was added. The medal was published by Dave Hayes and John Dean and designed and minted by Daniel Carr at Moonlight Mint in Colorado. On the obverse, Carr’s design features a bust of Oliver Hazard Perry, the International Peace Monument at Put-In-Bay, and flags of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, representing lasting peace. The reverse features U.S. Brig Niagara in action.
Five coins in place awaiting resetting of the ship's mainmast

Coming up this weekend

  • Anthracite Heritage Museum
    April 21: Landscape and Environment Month Lecture—Robert Hughes of the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) will present "The Sustainability Factor of Coalfield Community Groups in both the Anthracite and Bituminous Regions of PA and EPCAMR's Role Throughout NE & NC PA" (more info here). Lecture is free. 2 pm.
  • Conrad Weiser Homestead
    April 22: Living History Sunday—enjoy an afternoon of living history; guided tours offered. Noon-4 pm.
  • Daniel Boone Homestead
    April 21: Sheep and Fiber Day—the Homestead sheep will be sheared and artisans will demonstrate various steps of the textile production process (more info on Facebook event page). Vendors will be on hand with items made from alpaca and sheep's wool. Food will be available for purchase throughout the day. Cost is $7 for ages 16 and up, $4 for ages 5-15, free for Friends members and children age 4 and under. 10 am-4 pm.
  • Ephrata Cloister
    April 22: Ephrata Cloister Chorus Spring Concert—the concert will be held at Church of the Apostles United Church of Christ in Lancaster (more info on the website). Included on the program is a composition from the 1740s, newly transcribed from a copy found in the Ephrata Cloister archives. 4 pm.
  • Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
    April 21: Spring Benefit Auctionsilent and live auctions, plus yummy food (see website for more details). Preview and silent auction begin at 4 pm, live auction begins at 6.
  • Pennsbury Manor
    April 22: Bitters, Blubs and Brewing—enjoy a private tour of the kitchen garden, focused on the medicinal role of plants in the 17th and 18th centuries. Then a mixologist will teach you how to make your own bitters to take home. Must be at least 21 to participate. Cost is $20, which includes all materials and grounds admission (info on registering).
  • Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
    April 21-22: Spring Antique and Collectible Show and Sawmill Run—vendors from all over the U.S. will be selling a variety of wares. The museum's sawmill will be in operation on Saturday, and the birch still will be demonstrated both days. Admission charged, includes access to museum exhibits. Food and drink will be available for purchase. 10 am-4 pm both days.
  • Somerset Historical Center
    April 21: Common Threads Symposium—this program is offered in conjunction with Laurel Arts and features Sally C. Fink, fabric artist and author, and Mike Taylor, spinning wheel collector and author. Fiber artists will display and/or sell their work throughout the visitor center exhibit. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door (more info on the Facebook event page). (In conjunction with the symposium, there will be a quilt sale/fundraiser to generate funds for quilters and the Somerset Historical Center; contact for details and to register.) 9 am-4 pm.

Museums for All

Please visit the April program page for info on upcoming events. I've highlighted some below, but there's always more to learn.

Earlier this month, some of the sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History joined a national program called "Museums for All." Coordinated by the Association of Children's Museums, with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Museums for All participating museums provide free or discounted admission to people who present an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and photo ID. Up to four people can be admitted per card. At participating Trails of History sites, the discounted price is $2 per person and is good for regular admission, not special events or programs. Card holders don't use their EBT card to pay the admission; they present it to show their eligibility for the Museums for All discount.

You'll find a list of PHMC's participating museums on our website. We decided for our initial participation to stick with sites that are connected to our Point-of-Sale admissions system. That will allow us to track Museums for All admissions more easily and to take care of quarterly reporting from our central office in Harrisburg (which also happens to be Trailheads HQ). Please share the information with folks you know who may want to make use of this new discount.

In PHMC's press release announcing our participation, Executive Director Andrea Lowery noted, “At PHMC, we believe a visit to a museum or historic site can inspire the development of new skills and interests, ignite creativity, and enrich social connections. By removing the financial barrier, Museums for All represents a long stride toward the goal of reaching more children and parents and inviting them to take advantage of the valuable learning resources of museums.”

Many people make use of discounts or reduced/free admission when they visit Trails of History sites, such as membership in the site Friends group or the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation or membership in AAA. Reduced admission fees are always in place for seniors and youth, while young children are admitted free of charge (age varies, but it's 3 and under at most sites). PHMC sites participate in the Blue Star Museums program, which provides free admission for active duty military members and their families between Memorial Day and Labor Day; we offer that year-round.

Admission is free to all on Charter Day, the second Sunday of March each year. Individual sites also have free days from time to time, often in cooperation with local organizations or special events. Sites and museums in Erie, Lancaster, and Potter Counties participate in museum pass programs to make free admission available through their local and regional library systems.

Courtesy PA Military Museum

This weekend

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
April 14: National Water Dance Ripple Effect—the event begins at Dobbins Landing, then dancers and friends from Mercyhurst University will lead the audience on a performance path to the Erie Maritime Museum, which will host research presentations, poetry, music, dance, children's crafts, and refreshments (more info). Admission is free. Begins at 4 pm at Dobbins Landing.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
April 14: Needle Felting—as of yesterday (4/12) there were still a few spots left, so call NOW if you're interested. Or see if there's room left in classes coming up the rest of the month (see the full list with registration info on Landis Valley's website).

Old Economy Village
April 14: Saturday Craft Programscheck the website for this week's program and others coming up.a variety of lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on learning will be presented. Costs and details vary, so check the website for more information.

Pennsbury Manor
April 15: Historic Trades and Open Hearth Cookingcheck the website for details. Included in regular admission. Programming runs 1-4 pm, site open noon-5 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
April 15: 3rd Sunday Series—two programs this month: "Trout Grow on Trees," with staff from the Potter County Conservation District discussing the impact of forest health on trout streams, and "International Dark Skies Week," with PA DCNR staff talking about Cherry Springs State Park and its remarkable dark skies educational programs (more info on both). Included in museum admission (free for members). Trout program starts at 1 pm, dark skies at around 3.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
April 14-15: The Great War Remembered—2018 marks the 100th anniversary of American combat troops fighting in France and the end of World War I. Today's program includes lectures, films, and a living history reenactment on the grounds (check the website for details and updates). 10 am-4 pm each day.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
April 13: Learn at Lunchtime—view the T.M. Fowler bird's eye view maps exhibit through the lens of historic preservation. Included in general admission. 12:15-12:45 pm.
April 14 and 15: Planetarium closedsee website for other schedule info.

5 Things to Keep Your Mind Off the Weather

Please be sure to check the April program page for upcoming events and programs.

So the winter/spring/winter/spring roller coaster continues. I don't know about you, but I'm done. Not going to talk about the weather anymore. Nope. Not me. Let's think about other stuff.

U.S. Brig Niagara captain Billy Sabatini throws a curling stone on the Erie Maritime Museum plaza as ship uprig continues (via Facebook)
1) Despite the weather (so I lied), work has commenced to get the U.S. Brig Niagara ready for the 2018 sailing season. Follow U.S. Brig Niagara on Facebook to see more photos (or this video).

2) This year marks the 50th anniversary of the production of The Molly Maguires (released in 1970), parts of which were filmed in a real anthracite patch town during the summer of 1968. The attention and local pride generated an effort to preserve the town, which became Eckley Miners' Village, part of the PHMC's Trails of History. Multiple events are planned to celebrate the occasion and raise funds to support the historic site's programming (check Eckley's Facebook page for more info). In addition, the Hazleton Standard-Speaker wants to hear from people who worked as extras on the film or otherwise have memories from the movie set (learn how to share your memories in this article).


3) The National Association for Interpretation (NAI), a professional organization focused on cultural and natural heritage interpreters, is launching a virtual race this summer to raise funds. Participants are encouraged to do a 5K, 10K, or Half Marathon anywhere they like (even a treadmill) any day in June. They're particularly suggesting that people go to their favorite park, hiking trail, or heritage site. I think it's a great way to enjoy the Trails of History. Learn more about how to sign up and get your race bib on NAI's event page. Then pick your favorite Trails of History site and plan your day - please let the site know (or leave a comment on this post) so we can join the fun.

4) John Fea, author, professor, and scheduled speaker for the upcoming PA Museums conference, shared an article recently on his blog, "The Way of Improvement Leads Home," that may be of interest. Sarah Anne Carter's article for the Los Angeles Review of Books, "Scooby Doo in the Museum," explores ways objects and material culture were presented in the popular cartoon series.

5) In honor of Opening Week of Major League Baseball (anyone else watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball in the snow Wednesday night?), the Library of Congress announced the online release of Branch Rickey's papers. As you know if you follow baseball history, Rickey's contributions to the sport include the development of the "farm system" and hiring Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Rickey papers include scouting reports for numerous players, such as Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Willie Mays.

On This Day in History - April 6
Innovation Edition

  • 1869 - 1st plastic, Celluloid, patented
  • 1889 - George Eastman begins selling his Kodak flexible rolled film for the first time
  • 1930 - Hostess Twinkies invented by bakery executive James Dewar
  • 1938 - Teflon invented by Roy J. Plunkett
  • 1954 - TV Dinner was 1st put on sale by Swanson & Sons
  • 1980 - Post It Notes introduced

Wrapping Up March

The March program page gets you through tomorrow (I've highlighted some events below) and the April page is ready to go. Please note that Trails of History sites will be closed on Sunday, April 1, for Easter (with the possible exception of Washington Crossing Historic Park - please check their website before heading there).

So, we're at the end of March. I thought I'd share a few items that have come across the radar here at Trailheads HQ but haven't made it into previous posts.

Close-up from tinsmithing workshop at Somerset Historical Center (via Facebook)
I really love this photo. It was posted along with several others from Somerset Historical Center's recent tinsmithing workshop. Roy and Sharon Phillips helped workshop participants learn how to make a variety of tinware forms, including a candle sconce, a drinking mug, and a 3-sided lantern. They used tools from several different eras of tinsmithing, so participants learned skills as well as the history of the craft. Check out Somerset Historical Center's calendar of events for more hands-on classes coming up this spring and summer.

Leadership Lackawanna Core Program participants learn leadership, interpersonal, and managerial skills, as well an understanding of community issues and topics. Jim Lockwood, of the Times-Tribune, recently reported that the Class of 2018 is working with the Anthracite Heritage Museum to mark 250 years of anthracite mining in the U.S. The class members will be procuring a commemorative plaque to be placed at the museum, which documents and interprets Northeast Pennsylvania's history of hard-coal mining, as well as its related industries, businesses, and immigrant culture. The plaque will be dedicated at a cocktail reception on May 10.

As we lurch fitfully into spring (surely, we're just about there), many thoughts turn to gardens and gardening. Chef Walter Staib posted earlier this week that he is preparing an episode of his award-winning Taste of History program featuring the gardens at Pennsbury Manor. Staib's show focuses on 18th-century cuisine and cooking throughout the world, and he filmed scenes for two episodes at Pennsbury back in November (see photos from the shoot). I'm not sure when either will air, but we'll be sure to let you know.

The PHMC has approved 16 new historical markers, commemorating a wide range of people and topics from Pennsylvania's history (full list in press release). To learn more about the Historical Marker Program, including how to submit a person, place, or event for consideration, visit the State Historic Preservation Office marker page. And since we're saying goodbye for now to Women's History Month, check out this list of current markers related to women's history.

Coming up tomorrow, March 31

On This Day in History, March 30

STEM Learning in Erie and More

Please check out the March program page for info on this weekend's activities on the Trails of History.

Many thanks to frequent guest blogger Linda Bolla, of the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, for the following info and photos:

Erie Maritime Museum recently debuted its first traveling STEM exhibit. Using this series of simple machines, a student can both feel and measure the mechanical advantage gained with the addition of pulleys. The Museum’s design elements are unique – students lift 12-pound cannon balls using a rig constructed with a maritime feel: proper ship’s blocks and hempex lines secured to a rail of belaying pins.

EMM Intern Brett Eckstrom teaches a lesson in mechanical advantage
The exhibit was designed to be easily portable, constructed and rigged by Museum volunteer docents, who also field tested it at Penn State Behrend’s Family STEM Night last month. Lesson plans and an assembly/safety manual were drafted by Museum Intern Brett Eckstrom, a PSU Behrend History Major in his junior year. Brett will also train museum docents to deliver the lesson this term.

EMM STEM team proudly debuts their hands-on exhibit (l to r, Ed Bolla, Brett Eckstrom, Rich Hall; not shown, Chris Laird and Linda Bolla)

In Other News...

So after mostly dodging the past several nor'easters, central PA got socked on the second day of spring. While other parts of the state have been hit with some of the earlier storms (and this one as well), Storm Toby was the Harrisburg area's first really serious brush with snow this winter. Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum posted some lovely after-storm photos (see below and visit their Facebook page for more).

Yellow Barn, Erisman House, and Tavern at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum (via FB)
As a suggested means of whiling away a snow day, Landis Valley also posted a chocolate cake recipe from the Landis Valley Cookbook (p. 86) and media assistant Shayla Carey posted her video of preparing the cake. Don't watch it if you're hungry!

Bushy Run Battlefield posted a time-lapse video of staff and volunteers changing the period uniform on a mannequin in the visitor center exhibit (watch below or on YouTube). Bushy Run had a very successful Charter Day, but is not actually open for the 2018 season until Wednesday, April 18. In the meantime, they are getting ready for visitors.

On this Day in History - March 23

STEM edition:
  • 1857 - Elisha Otis installed the first modern passenger elevator in a public building.
  • 1903 - The Wright brothers obtained an airplane patent.
  • 1965 - America's first two-person space flight took off from Cape Kennedy with astronauts Virgil I. Grissom and John W. Young aboard. The craft was the Gemini 3.

That Reminds Me of a Story

Please be sure to check the March program page if you're looking for things to do this weekend on the Trails of History.

Handknit socks by Ruth M. Davis, American Red Cross volunteer in WWII
(PA Military Museum, MM99.18.2A-E)
Last week's post in honor of Women's History Month, prompted staff at the Pennsylvania Military Museum to remind me of one of my favorite stories. I mentioned in last week's post that we are working on new exhibits at the Military Museum that will include the evolving roles of women in the military. The exhibits will also explore the home front - the wartime roles of civilians and families in Pennsylvania as well as Pennsylvania industries.

Ruth McDaniel Davis was newly married when her husband went off to fight in World War II. She went to work for the USO and volunteered for the American Red Cross. Like many women and girls on the home front, she knitted hats, gloves, and socks for soldiers (I remember my grandmother talking about knitting socks during World War I). In the 1990s, while helping Ruth pack up her house, her son found a bag with knitting instructions, needles and yarn, one completed sock, and one still on double-pointed needles (see photo above). He asked his mother why she didn't finish the second sock--she replied, "The war ended." She put the socks aside and went about the business of post-war life. The socks, yarn, needles, and instructions are now part of the Military Museum collections and are exhibited periodically.

Ruth M. Davis, circa World War II (PA Military Museum, MM99.18)

Charter Day Recap

As you probably know, every year on the second Sunday in March, sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History mark the Commonwealth's birthday and celebrate the 1681 Charter that granted William Penn the land that became Pennsylvania. At The State Museum of Pennsylvania, the four-page original Charter goes on display for about a week and then returns to its special place in the Pennsylvania State Archives (see video of the Charter being brought out for exhibit). (The rest of the year, visitors to see a high-quality photographic reproduction of the Charter.) This year's "guest documents" were four Indian deeds by which land was given to William Penn and his heirs.

At Pennsbury Manor, 2018 marks the 300th anniversary of William Penn's death and staff will be particularly focused on Penn's legacy. For Charter Day, Pennsbury displayed a 1682 manuscript of "The Great Law," Pennsylvania's first governing document (read more in this Courier Times article.) The six-page manuscript will be on display through Tuesday, March 20, so there's time to stop by this weekend.

Two of six pages of William Penn's Great Law on exhibit at Pennsbury Manor for Charter Day 2018 (via FB)
Most sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History were open free of charge on March 11 for Charter Day. You can find photos on Facebook of activities at Bushy Run Battlefield, Conrad Weiser Homestead, Ephrata Cloister, Hope Lodge, and Joseph Priestley House (I'll add others as I find them or visit your favorite site on Facebook to check).

Bushy Run Battlefield was open on Charter Day for the first time in a number of years thanks to dedicated volunteers and a highly organized high school intern. More than 400 people enjoyed museum and battlefield tours as well as (depending on their ages and interests) children's activities and samples from Bushy Run Winery (photo Bushy Run Battlefield)