Honoring History

If you're planning ahead this month, you can check the December program page to see the whole month or revisit last week's post, which covers events through Dec. 13.

Two 14-inch guns from USS Pennsylvania on grounds of PA Military Museum
Two of USS Pennsylvania's 14-inch guns were moved from Dahlgren, Virginia, to the grounds of the PA Military Museum in 2009 (photo PA Military Museum)
77 years ago, the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Hawaii was attacked by aircraft from the Imperial Japanese Navy. As has become the custom, the Pennsylvania Military Museum will hold a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Tribute starting at 12:45 pm today. The event will begin outdoors at the display of the USS Pennsy guns, which were on the ship at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Indoors, attendees may view a screening of the film "World War II: Crusade in the Pacific" and enjoy light refreshments.

An iconic piece of American travel and commuter history is slated for a big change in the coming year. The Solari board at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station (see YouTube video) is being retired in favor of new technology. The flipping numbers and letters have become outdated, although judging by the reactions in this article on BillyPenn.com, they are still treasured by people who pass through the station. The good news is that the board is destined for the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, where it will become part of the new exhibits in Rolling Stock Hall. As mentioned in the article, museum staff are working on the best ways to display the board and preserve or recreate its signature sound experience. We'll keep you apprised.

Interns stand on Shay Locomotive at PA Lumber Museum
Keystone Interns Derrick Atkins and Andrew Moyer with the PA Lumber Museum's Shay locomotive, summer 2018 (photo Lumber Museum)
College students (undergrad or grad) interested in exploring careers in public history should consider applying for the 2019 Keystone Internship program. Depending on applicant interest and staff capacity, internships are available in many areas of PHMC, including historic preservation, archives, collections management, and historic site/museum operations and programs. Internships run from May to August and are unpaid; most students work with their college or university to receive academic credit. Schedules are somewhat flexible and subject to negotiation between interns and their mentors. The application process involves an information form where students indicate their interests, an essay, a transcript from their home institution (unofficial is fine), and a letter of recommendation. The deadline for applications is Friday, February 8, 2019. Check out the PHMC website for details.


Preserving Pennsylvania's history and sharing it with the public doesn't just happen, as regular readers of Trailheads are well aware. It takes people and it takes money. If you have a favorite Trails of History site and are not already a member, consider giving yourself a gift this year while supporting that site's activities. Membership is a great way to support sites, as is volunteering. And membership benefits can really pay off if you're a frequent visitor and like to shop in the museum store. Just sayin'.

If you don't have a favorite site, you can support the PHMC's sites and other activities through a membership in the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation (PHF). Through December 31, if you renew, rejoin, or join PHF, you can gift a free membership of equal or lesser value to a friend, family member, or co-worker. Memberships included in this offer are Heritage, Individual, and Family (visit PHF website for details or to purchase online). All categories of membership include free regular admission to sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History. (Please note, the gift membership must be for individuals or families who have never held a membership with PHF or The State Museum previously.) You can also donate to PHF online if that's more your style. We thank you for your support.

Trails of History Events Dec. 1-13

UPDATE 12/5/2018: Some Trails of History sites are closing early today, Dec. 5, as Gov. Wolf has authorized an early dismissal in honor of the National Day of Mourning for Pres. George H.W. Bush. Please check ahead before visiting. All sites will be back on their regular Thursday schedules tomorrow.

We're rounding the corner into December already. I hope everyone had a pleasant and safe Thanksgiving weekend. If you want to plan ahead beyond Dec. 13, the full December program page is available. In addition to special events, please note that winter seasonal schedules continue to be phased in this month, so be sure to check ahead before visiting.


Santa Claus with Shay locomotive at PA Lumber Museum
Santa will visit the PA Lumber Museum on Dec. 8; see below for more info (via Facebook)
Anthracite Heritage Museum
Dec. 1: Exhibit opening—"Anthracite Photographers: Photographers of Anthracite" explores over 140 years of photography in Pennsylvania's hard coal region (read more on Facebook page). An opening reception, sponsored by Misericordia University, will take place at 2 pm (museum admission will be free on 12/1 from 1 pm onward). Museum open 9 am-5 pm.

Bushy Run Battlefield
Dec. 8: Colonial Christmas Party—kids age 4-12 are invited to learn about and make homemade decorations, learn a colonial-era dance, and enjoy a snack. Cost is $5 per child. Advance registration is required: contact Marlene at 724/744-4193 or secretary@bushyrunbattlefield.com. 2-4 pm.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
Dec. 2: Christmas Open House—enjoy one last chance to visit the homestead in 2018 (site will be open by appointment only until Charter Day in March). The Visitor Center Bookstore will be open and books will be marked down 10% (more details on the Facebook event page). Guided tours will be available. Admission is free; donations gratefully accepted. Noon-4 pm.

Cornwall Iron Furnace
Dec. 1: Christmas at Cornwall House Tour—this annual tour lets you explore private homes in the Cornwall/Lebanon/Mount Gretna area (info on this year's homes) while supporting the Friends of Cornwall Iron Furnace. Tickets are $15 in advance at several locations in the community and at the Furnace. Tickets are $20 on the day of the tour and are available only at the Iron Furnace. Your ticket includes a guided tour of the Furnace, which you may redeem during regular operating hours up through Dec. 29, 2017. Light refreshments will be offered throughout the day at the Furnace. 10 am-4 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Dec. 7-8: Christkindlmarket—crafts, wine, candlelight, and shopping (details on the Boone home page). Admission is $7 for ages 12 and up (members pay less). Check website for info on combo ticket ($10) with the "Christmas at Johanna Furnace" event. Tickets available by calling 610/582-4900. DBH event is 4-9 pm both days.

Eckley Miners' Village
Dec. 1-2: Christmas at Eckley—from carolers to cocoa, crafts to St. Nick, you are sure to find something delightful in this old-fashioned Christmas celebration (details on Facebook event page). Admission is $7 per person; bring an unexpired, non-perishable food item and receive $1 off your ticket.

Ephrata Cloister
As of Dec. 1, tickets are on sale for this year's Lantern Tours, scheduled for Dec. 26-29 (more info on website).
Dec. 10-11: Christmas at the Cloister—this popular annual program combines seasonal readings and traditional music performed by the Ephrata Cloister Chorus in the 1741 Meetinghouse (Saal). Performance times are 6:30 and 8 pm each evening. UPDATE 12/3: the 6:30 performance on 12/10 is sold out, but tickets remain for other performances. Tickets are $6 per person and seating is limited. Purchase tickets from the Museum Store by calling 717/733-2592 or order by mail (see website for instructions) You may also want to keep an eye on the Facebook event page for updates on ticket availability and to see a video.

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
Dec. 8: The Christmas Tree ShipNiagara will be lit up for Christmas, and there will be lots of family activities, a visit with Santa and a live reindeer (due to arrive at 5:45 pm), and the story of The Christmas Tree Ship (more program details on the website). Admission is free. The museum is a Toys for Tots collection site. For $50, you can sponsor a Christmas tree and decorations for a local family (sponsorships are payable online). 5:30-8:30 pm.

Fort Pitt Museum
Please visit the Fort Pitt Museum website for information on programs and schedules.

Graeme Park
Dec. 6: Gingerbread House Workshop—you'll work with a kit and receive instructions and then you'll be free to let your creativity loose (more info on website). Light refreshments will be served. Cost is $15 per person. Space is limited. Prepaid reservations required; contact Beth at beth.maccausland@gmail.com or 215-915-9453. 7-9 pm.

Hope Lodge
Dec. 1: Holidays at Hope Lodge—tour the mansion at your leisure to enjoy the festive decorations and enjoy light refreshments (details on the website). Admission charged, but at a reduced rate for this event. Visitors age 21 and older (with ID) will, for an additional fee, be able to taste seasonal ales from Round Guys Brewing Company in the summer kitchen. 11 am-5 pm.
Dec. 8: Christmas Tours—guided tours of the mansion will be offered at 10 and 11:30 am, 1 and 2:30 pm. Refreshments will be served in the summer kitchen, and the Museum Shop will be open for holiday shopping. Regular admission charged. Site open 10 am-4 pm.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Dec. 1-2: Country Christmas Village—this year's event has a new twist, exploring Christmas as seen in books and stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, O.Henry, and others (more info on the website). What influence did Pennsylvania German traditions have on these classics? Children can learn about the history of Santa Claus and (with parental permission) post a letter to Santa at the Landis Valley Post Office ($1 postage) and receive a reply from the North Pole. Musical entertainment will be provided in the Yellow Barn (different performers each day). The Museum Store will be hosting their annual Artisan Showcase with loads of handcrafted goodies. There is no charge to visit the Museum Store. For everything else, admission is: Age 12-64, $12; age 65+, $10; age 3-11, $8; LVA members and age 2 and under, free. Online ticket purchase available via Brown Paper Tickets. Saturday, 10 am-4 pm; Sunday, noon-4 pm.
Dec. 4 and 8: Days of the Belsnickel—enjoy dinner (12/4) or lunch (12/8) along with holiday shopping, storytellers, dancing, and a visit with the Belsnickel (a PA German tradition). Reservations are required and can be made online, via email, or by phone (lunch details, dinner details).

Old Economy Village
Dec. 1-2: Christmas at the Village—enjoy entertainment by local musicians and shop for a wide array of gifts and food items. Children will find activities just for them and can even visit with mean old Belsnickel (details). Admission charged; please purchase tickets at the Visitor Center, as no tickets will be sold at the Village gate. Saturday, 2-9 pm; Sunday, 2-7 pm. (Note: Ambridge's Christmas in the Historic District will also take place Dec. 1-2 from 10 am to 7 pm, so you may want to do both.)
Dec. 6: Christmas Homeschool Tour—this Christmas-themed program is geared for students in preschool through third grade. Activities (details on the website) include crafts, decorations, and a visit with Belsnickel. Cost is $5 per person. Space is limited, and reservations are required by Dec. 4. Please email David Miller to make reservations. 1-2:30 pm.
Dec. 8: Meet Belsnickel—he's grumpy but you know you want to meet him. Belsnickel (a PA German tradition) will be on hand and receiving visitors. You'll also be able to decorate cookies and enjoy some cold mulled cider. Cost is $5 per person. Reserve your spot by calling 724/266-4500 x113. 11 am-2 pm.
Dec. 8: Deadline to register—two of OEV's regular blacksmithing demonstrators will teach an intermediate blacksmithing class on Dec. 15. Class is free but space is limited and you must register by Dec. 8. Contact David Miller at davmiller@pa.gov. 10 am-1 pm.
Dec. 13: Christmas Dinner—join with other supporters of Old Economy for a festive evening of dining and music in the Feast Hall (details). Reservations are required. Doors open at 6 pm.

Pennsbury Manor
Dec. 6-7: Holly Nights—a special opportunity to see Pennsbury illuminated by candlelight, bonfires, and hearth fires. Enjoy caroling, hot cider, and throwing a green sprig on the Yule log for luck (details on the website). Admission charged (purchase tickets online thru Ticketleap). 6-9 pm both nights.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Dec. 8: Santa in the Shay—St. Nick will forgo his sleigh in favor of a geared locomotive as he listens to children's requests. Take an instant photo and turn it into an ornament, browse unique gifts from local artisans and the museum store, and enjoy hot cocoa (Facebook event page has details). Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for kids. Noon-4pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Throughout the month of December—a Selective Service Registration Card for Mr. S. Claus will be on temporary exhibit during regular operating hours. Wed.-Sat., 10 am-4 pm; Sun., noon-4 pm.
Dec. 7: Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Tribute—77 years ago on December 7th, the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Hawaii was attacked by aircraft from the Imperial Japanese Navy. America was at war. The tribute is held beneath the guns of the battleship USS Pennsylvania, which was a witness to that attack. Light refreshments will be served in the museum auditorium following the tribute ceremony. 12:45 p.m.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Dec. 1 and 8: Home for the Holidays—costumed engineers, conductors, ticket agents, and passengers representing the past century bring historic rail travel to life. Kids can visit with Santa or work with a telegrapher to send a Christmas telegram to the North Pole. Holiday music, refreshments (while supplies last), and shopping are part of the day too (lots more details). Included in regular admission (extra charge for Christmas with the Conductor parties, call the museum at 717/687-8628 to check availability). 9 am-5 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Please visit the planetarium webpage for info on shows and schedules.
Dec. 7: StoryTime—visit the museum's Transportation Gallery and read Little Plane Learns to Write by author/illustrator Stephen Savage. You'll also make a small plane of your own to take home. Included in general admission and intended for children age 3-5 with an adult. 10-11 am.
Dec. 13: Nature Lab—in today's program, "Pre-Historic Deer (Cervids)," learn about the ancestors of today's white-tail deer and Santa's reindeer with curator of paleontology, Dr. Steven Janiski. Included in general admission. 11:30 am-12:30 pm.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Please visit the WCHP events page for details on the annual crossing reenactments and other events.

Thoughts on Giving Thanks

All PA Trails of History sites are closed tomorrow (11/22) for Thanksgiving). For information on site schedules for Friday (11/23) and events going on this weekend through Nov. 29, please check out last week's post.

Through December 31, the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation (PHF) and The State Museum of Pennsylvania are excited to offer a "Buy One Get One Free" membership offer. Renew, rejoin, or join, and you can gift a free membership of equal or lesser value to a friend, family member, or co-worker. Memberships included in this offer are Heritage, Individual, and Family (visit PHF website for details or to purchase online). All categories of membership include free regular admission to sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History. (Please note, the gift membership must be for individuals or families who have never held a membership with PHF or The State Museum previously.)


Table set with 18th century foods at Conrad Weiser Homestead
This table setting from Conrad Weiser Homestead's Candlelight Tours last weekend makes me think of Thanksgiving (photo via Facebook)
Coming to you a little early this week to get ahead of the holiday. On behalf of all of us here at Trailheads HQ, I'd like to wish all of you the Thanksgiving that makes you most happy. The traditions you love, the people who make you feel special, a victory for your football team (if you celebrate that way), a winning hand at gin rummy (ditto), a nice glass of Beaujolais Nouveau (ditto ditto). Those of us lucky to have enough (or more than enough) have much to be thankful for, but we should also remember not to take it for granted. If you have the chance to help others this holiday, please take it.


American Revolution reenactors in formation with flag at Hope Lodge
Hope Lodge's Whitemarsh Encampment event earlier this month brought American Revolution reenactors to the site (via Facebook)

Following up on our Veterans Day post, I had a little time to think about some other military-related Trails of History info recently and thought I'd share some of it this week. These items illustrate the span of military history that gets covered on the Trails and the relevance of our sites to the present.

Reaching back to the 18th century, Hope Lodge's annual Whitemarsh Encampment presents the stories of Revolutionary War soldiers and civilians, especially related to the Continental Army's stay in the area during November and early December of 1777. I've shared a photo above, and you can find more on the Hope Lodge Facebook page.

As part of the centennial celebration of the end of World War I, Conrad Weiser Homestead held an Armistice Day event on Sunday, November 11. Speakers included Doug Miller, site administrator at Pennsbury Manor, and state Sen. David Argall (R - Schuylkill and Berks). Military reenactors were on hand as well. (In May of 2017, we showed you some before and after photos of a project to clean a World War I doughboy statue on the grounds at Conrad Weiser Homestead, dating from the 1920s.) The event also honored all local veterans (read more in this Reading Eagle article); keep an eye out for Weiser's annual concert honoring veterans, generally held around July 4.

We've shared info before about military reenlistment and promotion ceremonies at Trails of History sites. Back in October, the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara hosted members of the United States Marine Corps. Gunnery Sgt. Charles Bays reenlisted in USMC and then he and his wife, Kate, left for his new assignment in South Carolina; Bays was promoted to Gunnery Sgt. onboard Niagara in October 2017. Bryan Johnson and Devin Dominech were promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. (My thanks to Linda Bolla of the museum for the info and photo below.) In other Erie news, the Flagship Niagara League recently announced the promotion of Christopher Cusson to Captain of the U.S. Brig Niagara. Cusson is, among other things, a United States Coast Guard veteran (read more info here).

Marine Staff Sergeant Johnson receives collar insignia from grandfathers
SSgt. Bryan Johnson (left) receives his new collar insignia from his grandfathers. (I'm not crying, you're crying.) (photo L. Bolla)
Prospective applicants for the U.S. military service academies are interviewed by a congressional panel to determine if they will receive a letter of referral from their U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative, a requirement for admission. Last weekend, the Pennsylvania Military Museum hosted 16 candidates and their families. Yesterday, the museum received a lovely note from a woman who was there with her son, who hopes to attend the United States Naval Academy. She complimented the museum on its well-kept and well-organized facilities and was impressed with the exhibits and displays, comparing them favorably to those at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia. "It is obvious a lot of time and effort has been spent to make this small museum a true gem!" Kudos to the staff and volunteers at the museum for their work and thanks to Tyler Gum, site administrator, for sharing the info.

On a related but somewhat more somber note, the PA Military Museum has been working with the Jana Marie Foundation, which is devoted to bringing attention to and addressing mental health issues in the Centre County region where the museum is located. The Foundation's STOMPERS Project was developed to embody their goal of stomping out the stigma that often surrounds talking about mental health. STOMPERS are made from shoes and boots on a life-size frame and have different themes depending on their host organization. As a participant in the initiative, the museum is now home to a STOMPER titled "SERVE," which is focused on issues of depression, suicide, and well-being among military veterans and their families. The goal is to help foster conversations between civilian and military communities, between veterans, and among families. This is another way the museum is honoring the military service of Pennsylvanians and recognizing the sacrifices of military families.

STOMPER figure at PA Military Museum
"SERVE," part of STOMPER Project, at PA Military Museum (photo AKF)