Beware the Ides of February (is that a thing?)

The February program page has info on events through the end of the month. Activities coming up in the week ahead (including Presidents Day) are listed below.

White snowdrops bloom against a background of dead leaves
Footprints in the snow at Pennsbury Manor
Premature hopes of an early spring on February 5 (top) dashed by snow and ice on February 11 (bottom) at Pennsbury Manor. Such is life. 

I'm never sure whether February is the longest short month or the shortest long month of the year. I know we're only halfway through, but with the back-and-forth weather (see photos above), I feel like February has already lasted a month. Ah well. Here's a couple of highlights to keep us going.

Taking care of the pieces of the past entrusted to us is part of what museum and historic site people do. Sometimes that means saying goodbye to them and sending them off into the hands of others. This past week, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (RMP) transferred ownership of its historic Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 757, the Berkshire, to the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio. In its new home, the Berkshire will benefit from much-needed restoration work and will be much closer to its original areas of operation (read much more here on RMP's Facebook page). And RMP will continue to focus on its massive collection of rolling stock that operated in Pennsylvania from the 19th century into the recent past.

Moving a 75-year-old steam locomotive that has been sitting at a museum for 50 years is, it will come as no surprise, a fairly big deal that involves a lot of logistical coordination. RMP staff and staff from the Berkshire's destination in Ohio, along with folks from the Strasburg Rail Road and Norfolk Southern, cooperated to make sure No. 757 will make it to Ohio no worse the wear for its journey. See a video clip below and visit RMP's Facebook page and Norfolk Southern's for progress photos of the move.


Sometimes taking care of history includes giving it new life and form in the present. This weekend, (Feb. 17-18), a capella quartet New York Polyphony will be performing in concert at the Trust Performing Arts Center in downtown Lancaster. On the program is the world premiere of Greg Spears' "The Bitter Good," commissioned by the quartet in 2016. It is based on baritone Christopher Herbert's research into the music of the Ephrata Cloister (more info here). (Dr. Herbert, who is also a faculty member at William Paterson University, will offer a 45-minute pre-show lecture on Feb. 18 at 6:15 pm and is slated to speak at Ephrata Cloister as part of the Winter History Class on Thursday, March 14.) Concerts are at 7:30 pm (ticket information online).

Also ahead...

Brandywine Battlefield
Feb. 19: Revolutionary Dining Series—Glenn Williams Ph.D. will present "The Siege of Yorktown: The Decisive Engagement of the American War for Independence." Cost is $50 per person (includes salad, entree, dessert, and coffee); cash bar available (details and link to purchase tickets via Paypal). 6 pm at The Gables at Chadds Ford.

Ephrata Cloister
Feb. 21: Winter History Class—each Thursday morning participants in the Winter History Class learn about the history of the celibate brothers and sisters, the world they lived in, and the work of preserving the collections and buildings. Sign up for the series or for individual dates. Contact the site at 717/733-6600 for details and/or to register. Class continues through March.

Fort Pitt Museum
Please visit the Fort Pitt Museum website for info on any events and programs happening this month. Fort Pitt Museum is open on Presidents Day, Feb. 18.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Winter Learning for Adults—weekends bring learning opportunities, including craft and trade classes, lectures, and classes offered by the Heirloom Seed Project. Schedules and costs vary. The full list of classes through April is on the website, along with a registration form.
Homeschool Classes—on Wednesdays in February through mid-March, Landis Valley offers a series of classes designed for homeschool groups. Each week has a different focus and activities. Sign up for all or some, depending on your schedule and interest (full details are on the website) 9 am-12:30 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Feb. 15-17: Snow-mobility Weekend—ride your snowmobile (or not) to the museum all weekend-long. Cross-country ski (not) or hike to the museum on Saturday (Feb. 16) for a Pancake Breakfast (9 am-2 pm). Documentaries will be shown in the program room. UPDATE 2/15: conditions won't support cross-country skiing, but it's always the right weather for pancakes!

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Feb. 18: Presidents Day—the museum is open today, 9 am-5 pm (otherwise closed on Mondays through March).

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Planetarium Shows—check the State Museum website for schedule and program descriptions.
Feb. 15: Learn at Lunchtime—join curator Katie McGowan for a tour of the exhibit "Dressed for Service" to learn about the role of the American Red Cross in World War I. Included in regular admission. 12:15-12:45 pm.
Feb. 21: Curiosity Kids—this month's program takes place in Nature Lab and will focus on Magnets. Geared for young visitors, ages 3-6. Included in regular admission, but space is limited so be sure to sign up at the front desk when you arrive at the museum. 11:30 am.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Please visit the Washington Crossing website for info on any events and programs happening this month.

Trails of History Events, Feb. 8-21

This time of year especially, it's a good idea to double check site schedules before visiting. Some sites are on reduced hours or closed, and snow storms can interfere with schedules as well. Most Trails of History sites will be closed on February 18 for Presidents Day; exceptions (that I know of) are noted below.

The PHMC's 2017-18 Annual Report is now available online.


Snow mobiles parked in front of Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Snowmobiles parked in front of the Visitor Center at PA Lumber Museum in 2018 (via Facebook)
Brandywine Battlefield
Feb. 19: Revolutionary Dining Series—Glenn Williams Ph.D. will present "The Siege of Yorktown: The Decisive Engagement of the American War for Independence." Cost is $50 per person (includes salad, entree, dessert, and coffee); cash bar available (details and link to purchase tickets via Paypal). 6 pm at The Gables at Chadds Ford.

Daniel Boone Homestead
UPDATE, this event has been cancelled. Sorry I didn't catch that. There is a Fireside Tales program scheduled for Charter Day, March 10. Feb. 10: Fireside Tales—come to the Wayside Lodge storytelling by the fire (dress for the weather and bring a blanket if it's really cold). $2 per person suggested donation. 2 pm.

Ephrata Cloister
Feb. 14, 21: Winter History Class—each Thursday morning participants in the Winter History Class learn about the history of the celibate brothers and sisters, the world they lived in, and the work of preserving the collections and buildings. Sign up for the series or for individual dates. Contact the site at 717/733-6600 for details and/or to register. Class continues through March.
Feb. 17-18: Performance of Ephrata-inspired Musica capella quartet New York Polyphony will be performing in concert at the Trust Performing Arts Center in downtown Lancaster. On the program is the world premiere of Greg Spears' "The Bitter Good," commissioned by the quartet in 2016. It is based on baritone Christopher Herbert's research into the music of the Ephrata Cloister (more info here). (Dr. Herbert, who is also a faculty member at William Paterson University, will offer a 45-minute pre-show lecture on Feb. 18 at 6:15 pm and is slated to speak at Ephrata Cloister as part of the Winter History Class on Thursday, March 14.) Concerts are at 7:30 pm (ticket information online).

Fort Pitt Museum
Please visit the Fort Pitt Museum website for info on any events and programs happening this month. Fort Pitt Museum is open on Presidents Day, Feb. 18.
UPDATE 2/11 on Facebook: The Fort Pitt Museum will be closed on Tuesday, Feb. 12 because of unexpected maintenance. It will reopen as scheduled on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. Thank you!

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Winter Learning for Adults—weekends bring learning opportunities, including craft and trade classes, lectures, and classes offered by the Heirloom Seed Project. Schedules and costs vary. The full list of classes through April is on the website, along with a registration form.
Homeschool Classes—on Wednesdays in February through mid-March, Landis Valley offers a series of classes designed for homeschool groups. Each week has a different focus and activities. Sign up for all or some, depending on your schedule and interest (full details are on the website) 9 am-12:30 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Feb. 15-17: Snow-mobility Weekend—ride your snowmobile (or not) to the museum all weekend-long. Cross-country ski (maybe not) or hike to the museum on Saturday (Feb. 16) for a Pancake Breakfast (9 am-2 pm). Documentaries will be shown in the program room. Here's a weather-related update as of Feb. 14.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Feb. 18: Presidents Day—the museum is open today, 9 am-5 pm (otherwise closed on Mondays through March).

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Planetarium Shows—check the State Museum website for schedule and program descriptions.
Feb. 14: Nature Lablearn about ducks; program is geared to a general audience, ages 7 and up. Included in regular admission. 11:30 am-12:30 pm.
Feb. 15: Learn at Lunchtime—join curator Katie McGowan for a tour of the exhibit "Dressed for Service" to learn about the role of the American Red Cross in World War I. Included in regular admission. 12:15-12:45 pm.
Feb. 21: Curiosity Kids—this month's program takes place in Nature Lab and will focus on Magnets. Geared for young visitors, ages 3-6. Included in regular admission, but space is limited so be sure to sign up at the front desk when you arrive at the museum. 11:30 am.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Please visit the Washington Crossing website for info on any events and programs happening this month.

What Does the Whistle Pig Say?

I don't know why I always fall for the hype of Groundhog Day (the annual vigil for the end of winter, not the movie, which I liked). Punxsutawney Phil, Octorara Orphie, and others whose names escape me at the moment. No matter what they see tomorrow (Feb. 2) there will be at least six more weeks of winter. It's Pennsylvania after all. Anyway, winter activities will get us through; the ongoing programs and events in the coming week are listed below. The usual winter caveats apply here: some sites are on reduced hours this time of year, and weather may interfere with operating schedules and special events, so please check ahead if you're not sure. The complete (as far as I know it) February program page is available if you want to plan ahead.

UPDATE on the whistle pigs, 2/4/19: so Phil did not see his shadow, which means an early spring (video courtesy of VisitPA). But Octoraro Orphie and Mount Joy Minnie, in Lancaster County, saw their shadows, which means 6 more weeks of winter. My comment above stands.


Bonfire to warm things up at Historic Pithole City
Check out the Cabin Fever Party at Historic Pithole on Feb. 2!
Drake Well Museum
Feb. 2: Pithole Cabin Fever Party—shake off your winter blues with music, food, crafts, games, and fun. If there is snow, grab your sled and cruise down the legendary boomtown’s slopes or build a snowman! Donations welcome. Takes place at Historic Pithole City, 14118 Pithole Road, Pleasantville, PA 16341 (check out the Facebook event for details and updates). 10 am-2 pm.

Ephrata Cloister
Thursdays through March 28: Winter History Class—learn about the history of the community at Ephrata and the world that surrounded it (more info on Facebook page). Speakers include site staff as well as outside scholars (list of session topics and speakers). Sessions are held from 9 am to noon each Thursday through March 28, and there is a field trip (extra charge) on April 4. Cost for the entire class is $55, $45 for members; you can attend individual classes for $10 each. Call the site at 717/733-6600 for more information or to register.

Fort Pitt Museum
Feb. 2: Museum reopens—Fort Pitt Museum is back to regular hours, after being closed for exhibit upgrades and maintenance.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Ongoing: Winter Learning for Adults—winter weekends mean learning opportunities, including craft and trade classes, lectures, and classes offered by the Heirloom Seed Project. Schedules and costs vary. The full list of classes through April is on the website, along with a registration form.
Starting Feb. 6: Homeschool Classes—on six Wednesdays in February through mid-March, Landis Valley offers a series of classes designed for homeschool groups. Each week has a different focus and activities. Sign up for all or some, depending on your schedule and interest (full details are on the website) 9 am-12:30 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Planetarium Shows—check the State Museum website for schedule and program descriptions.
Feb. 1: Storytime—this month's book is The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. Participants will use their imaginations to create their own "magnificent thing." Geared for ages 3-5 with accompanying adult. Included in regular admission. 10-11 am.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Please visit the Washington Crossing website for info on any events and programs happening this month.