Winter Sets In

Winter Sets In
Snowy landscape at PA Lumber Museum with stone and log cabin and statue of a CCC worker. The statue is black and the worker is shirtless, wearing a brimmed hat and hold an ax with its head resting on the ground.
Civilian Conservation Corps statue in front of a relocated cabin built by CCC members in Potter County (photo via PA Lumber Museum Facebook page)

We have lots of winter-themed and seasonal programs in the coming week. Please take a look at the listings to find something that you'd enjoy, either outdoors or indoors.

I am sad to share this post from Ephrata Cloister, but I'd also like to pay tribute to our colleague Michael Showalter, museum educator, who passed away January 15. Michael was a consummate educator, utterly devoted to telling Ephrata's stories to the public and to helping others share those stories as well. I never saw him happier than when he was connecting modern people to the historic people at Ephrata, sometimes through first-person interpretation, but often through well-crafted presentations in virtual classes, the site's popular Lantern Tour programs, or the annual Winter History Class. I am fortunate to have worked with him for so many years. We will all miss him.


[Image description: Screenshot of Jan. 25 Ephrata Cloister Facebook post with photo of Michael Showalter, a smiling man with brown hair and glasses, wearing the white robe used to interpret the celibate members of the Ephrata community. Text reads: "Today we say our final farewells to our colleague, friend, and mentor, Ephrata's Museum Educator, Michael Showalter. It's hard to come to terms with his sudden departure from this earth and the institutional and historical memory that is no longer available to us simply for the asking. Rest In Peace, Michael."]

Up Next

Saturday, January 28

  • Winter in the Lumber Camp (in-person); 10 am-4 pm; PA Lumber Museum
    • Outdoor fun in the snow (weather permitting) with sledding, snow men, and snow art activities. Try your hand at cross-country skis, snowshoes, and ice skates (conditions permitting) with the help of equipment provided by PA DCNR and volunteer instructors. At 1pm Jeremy Banfield, elk biologist for the PA Game Commission’s Deer and Elk Section, will provide an engaging overview of the Commonwealth’s elk management program (Winter in the Lumber Camp info).
  • Seed to Bread (in-person); 10:30-11:30 am and 1:30-2:30 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Explore the exhibits in the Transportation & Industry gallery and learn how seeds can become flour to make bread. Take home some historic recipes to try. Included in regular admission (Seed to Bread info).

Tuesday, January 31

  • Tour of the GP30 (virtual); 10-10:30 am; Railroad Museum of PA
    • This interactive virtual program is geared to grades K-6 and will provide a behind-the-scenes view of spaces inside the locomotive. Admission is by donation (GP30 Tour info and tickets).

Thursday, February 2

  • Winter History Class (in-person & virtual); 9 am-noon; Ephrata Cloister
    • This 9-week winter course kicks off today and runs every Thursday through March 30. If you sign up for the full series, you can choose in-person or Zoom attendance. Single sessions will be available via Zoom only (Winter History Class registration options).

Friday, February 3

  • StoryTime (in-person); 10:30-11:30 am; The State Museum of PA
    • Hear a reading of Over and Under in the Snow by Kate Messner to discover what is happening under the snow and create a winter landscape. For ages 2 to pre-K and included in regular admission. Sign up at the Ground Floor Info Desk when you arrive (StoryTime info).

Advance Tickets or Registrations

  • Sensory Hours (in-person); Tuesday, Feb. 7, 3-5 pm, and Tuesday, Feb. 21, 9-11 am; Railroad Museum of PA
    • Noise, light, and crowd levels will be lower, and there will be quiet spaces for breaks. Several historic trains will be open with staff on hand to answer questions. Advance tickets required (Feb. 7 Sensory Hours or Feb. 21 Sensory Hours).
  • Winter Academy (virtual); Thursday, Feb. 9, 6:30-7:30 pm; Drake Well Museum & Park
    • Photographer and retired biology teacher Jeffrey Hall will present a virtual program, "Birds of Venango County," sharing facts and stories about the birds we all know, highlighting some of the birds that are "specialties" of Venango County, and introducing some of the rare birds that visit the county only occasionally (Winter Academy 2/9 info and registration).
  • Artists Conversation (virtual); Friday, Feb. 10, 12:15-12:45 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Join fine arts curator Amy Hammond as she talks with artist Matthew Cote about his work "Full Circle," recipient of the Art of the State 2022 Purchase Award. The program will be presented via Zoom; please register to receive the link (Artists Conversation info and registration).
  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual); Friday, Feb. 17, 12:15-12:45 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Brant Portner, environmental education specialist with the PA Game Commission, will talk about the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, a popular spot for birds and bird watchers. The program is free and will be offered via Zoom; please register to receive the link (Learn at Lunchtime info and registration).
  • The Harmonist Connection: Gardens (virtual); Wednesday, Feb. 22, 7-8 pm; Old Economy Village
    • The latest in a series of virtual programs sponsored by Harmony Society sites in Pennsylvania and Indiana. Tonight, Kent Schuette from Historic New Harmony (IN) and Joe Pulgini from Old Economy Village will talk about the work both carry out to maintain modern gardens that draw on the traditions of the Harmonists. Free and offered via Zoom (Harmonist Connection info and registration).
  • Rails & Ales 2023 (in-person); Saturday, April 1, 5:30-9 pm; Railroad Museum of PA
    • Taste craft beers among the museum's world-class collection of historic trains in Rolling Stock Hall. Must be age 21 or older to attend; photo ID required at the door. Advance tickets only; VIP tickets tend to sell out quickly (ticket options, including designated driver tickets).
  • Colonial Camp Week (in-person); Monday-Friday, July 17-21, 9 am-4 pm; Pennsbury Manor
    • Campers 6 to 8 years old will spend the week exploring the entire site with a talented team of living history experts. Sessions run 9 am-4 pm each day; before- and after-care are available for an additional fee (registration info).

Museum Selfie Day 2023

Museum Selfie Day 2023 Several Trails of History sites participated in this year's Museum Selfie Day, posting photos of staff in their natural habitats. It's a fun day and a chance to see some of the people who make our sites such great places to visit. Here are a few of our Trails of History selfies.

Railroad Museum of PA selfie of three women with brown or blond hair. The middle one wears glasses. They are standing in front of the Tahoe, an 1875 steam locomotive painted black with a red cab.
From left, Lauren, Dodie, and Juliette with the Tahoe steam engine in the Railroad Museum of PA's Rolling Stock Hall (photo via RMP Facebook page)

Selfie of woman with planetarium star dome lit above her and glimpses of two computer monitors to right side of photo
You can join Planetarium director Linda to learn more about the night sky next week (photo via State Museum of PA Facebook page)

Selfie of man with cropped hair and glasses standing in front of collections storage shelves with pieces of wood
PA Lumber Museum curator Josh took this selfie with original timbers from the U.S. Brig Niagara while he was helping with a collections move at the Erie Maritime Museum (photo via PA Lumber Museum Facebook page)

Up Next

Please note that Ephrata Cloister will be closed Saturday and Sunday, January 21 and 22.

Today, January 20

  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual); 12:15-12:45 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Join us as we talk to Jeff Jumper, Resiliency Program Manager with the Bureau of Recovery at the PA Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), to discuss some of our weather normal and some of our extremes. From tornadoes to floods, we’ll take a look through the Pennsylvania weather almanac. The program is free, but you must register to receive the link (Learn at Lunchtime registration).

Saturday, January 21

  • StoryTime (in-person); 10:30-11:30 am; The State Museum of PA
    • Read Supertruck by Stephen Savage and uncover how this truck saves the town from the big snowstorm. For ages 2 to pre-K and included in regular admission. Sign up at the Ground Floor Info Desk when you arrive (StoryTime info).
  • Revolutionary Speaker Series (in-person); Noon-2 pm; Brandywine Battlefield Park
    • Jennifer Janofsky, director and public historian at Red Bank Battlefield, and Wade Catts, principal archaeologist with South River Heritage Consulting, will present a program on recent excavations at Fort Mercer and Red Bank Battlefield Park. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online (Rev Speaker Series tickets).
  • Mapping Mammal Hall (in-person); 1-3 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Use the giant map of PA to find the real locations that inspired the Mammal Hall diorama scenes. Included in regular admission (Mapping Mammal Hall info).
  • Anthracite Heritage Month Program (in-person); 2-3:30 pm; PA Anthracite Heritage Museum
    • Presentations include "The Reopening of the Brooks Mine in Nay Aug Park, Scranton" and "Mine Equipment Restoration." Refreshments will be served (Anthracite Htge Month Pgm info).

Sunday, January 22

  • Knox Mine Disaster Commemoration (virtual and in-person); 2-3:30 pm; PA Anthracite Heritage Museum
    • Anthracite Heritage Museum staff and staff from several museums in Wales will discuss Welsh and American coal heritage. The program will also include music and a display of mining memorabilia. Attend in person (22 Bald Mountain Rd., Scranton), join via Zoom (link to join Zoom), or watch live on AHM's Facebook page (Knox Mine Disaster program info).

Tuesday, January 24

  • Sensory Hours (in-person); Jan. 24, 9-11 am; Railroad Museum of PA
    • Light, noise, and crowd levels will be lower, and there will be a few quiet spaces in the galleries if you need a break. Severl historic trains will be open with staff on hand to answer questions. Advance tickets required (Sensory Hours 1/24 tickets).

Wednesday, January 25

  • Explore! (in-person); 11:30 am-12:30 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Learn more about the groundhogs in Pennsylvania and their legendary role in predicting the weather. Build an aneroid barometer to make predictions at home. For grades 3-5 and included in regular admission. Space is limited; please sign up at the Ground Floor Info Desk when you arrive (Explore! info).
  • Stargazing: Tonight's Sky (in-person); 2-3 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Join the Planetarium director to explore the basic motions of the sky, visible constellations and planets, and any special celestial events coming up in the next month. Planetarium tickets are in addition to regular admission and may be purchased at the Ground Floor Info Desk (Stargazing program info).

Advance Tickets or Registrations

  • Tour of the GP30 (virtual); Tuesday, Jan. 31, 10-10:30 am; Railroad Museum of PA
    • This interactive virtual program is geared to grades K-6 and will provide a behind-the-scenes view of spaces inside the locomotive. Admission is by donation (GP30 Tour info and tickets).
  • Winter Academy (virtual); Thursday, Feb. 9, 6:30-7:30 pm; Drake Well Museum & Park
    • Photographer and retired biology teacher Jeffrey Hall will present a virtual program, "Birds of Venango County," sharing facts and stories about the birds we all know, highlighting some of the birds that are "specialties" of Venango County, and introducing some of the rare birds that visit the county only occasionally (Winter Academy 2/9 info and registration).
  • Rails & Ales 2023 (in-person); Saturday, April 1, 5:30-9 pm; Railroad Museum of PA
    • Taste craft beers among the museum's world-class collection of historic trains in Rolling Stock Hall. Must be age 21 or older to attend; photo ID required at the door. Advance tickets only; VIP tickets tend to sell out quickly (ticket options, including designated driver tickets).

Don't Miss Out!

Don't Miss Out!
Woman with brown hair wearing a 1940s style dress with several kids - she is pointing to a plane silhouette as part of a WW II era plane spotting activity in an exhibit booth at the PA Farm Show.
PA Military Museum educator Emily shows some Farm Show visitors how civilians learned to spot enemy planes during World War II (via PMM's Facebook page)

There's still time (but not much) to catch the PA Military Museum's display at the 2023 PA Farm Show. All this week, they've been helping show-goers learn about life in Harrisburg during World War II, highlighting the Farm Show complex's role in wartime aviation and civilian homefront activities. Their Facebook page is a great place to see what they've been up to. You can find them in Booth 2310, which is in the GIANT Expo Hall, near the Department of Veterans and Military Affairs booth. The Farm Show runs through tomorrow (Saturday) at 5 pm. 

World War II photo of 3 women repairing an aircraft engine

One of the civilian homefront activities that took place at the Farm Show complex was aircraft engine repair. According to a PA Farm Show history site created by PHMC in 2012, in 1942 the Main Exhibition Hall was used to train mechanics to repair military planes. "In early 1944, the mechanics' school was phased out and replaced by an Army Air Corps aircraft engine repair shop. When it was fully operational as part of a large aircraft overhaul center at Olmsted Field in nearby Middletown [now the site of Harrisburg International Airport] the shop employed sixteen hundred to twenty-three hundred workers."

This is also the last weekend to see the 2023 Art of the State juried exhibition at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. If you won't be able to visit in person, you can also check out the 360° Virtual Exhibition.

If you know a current undergraduate or graduate student interested in public history and/or historic preservation, there's still a little bit of time to apply for a 2023 Keystone Summer Internship with PHMC. Paid positions are open at numerous Trails of History sites around the state as well as at the State Historic Preservation Office in Harrisburg. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have at least a 2.5 GPA, and meet some other requirements depending on which position they apply for (successful applicants will need to pass a background check). Posting details and all requirements can be found at Pennsylvania's NEOGOV site.

Up Next

Today, January 13

  • Family Gallery Tour: Geology Hall (in-person); 11:30 am-12:30 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Learn about the landforms and waterways found in Pennsylvania’s Physiographic Provinces and get hands-on with the common minerals and rocks found in Pennsylvania. Included in regular admission (Geology Hall tour info).

Saturday, January 14

  • Black Bears (in-person); 10:30-11:30 am; The State Museum of PA
    • Learn about the history of black bears in PA and find out about their unique adaptations and what they are doing during the winter. Included in regular admission (Black Bears program info).

Tuesday, January 17

  • Workin' on the Railroad (virtual); 10-10:30 am; Railroad Museum of PA
    • This interactive virtual program is geared to grades K-6 and explores a variety of railroad jobs through artifacts, photographs, and activities. Admission is by donation (Workin' on the Railroad info and tickets).

Thursday, January 19

  • Curiosity Kids (in-person); 11:30 am-12:30 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Learn about magnets, explore a series of hands-on experiment stations, and use critical thinking skills to complete various challenges. For grades K-2 and included in regular admission. Space is limited, so please sign up at the Ground Floor Info Desk when you arrive (Curiosity Kids info).

Friday, January 20

  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual); 12:15-12:45 pm; The State Museum of PA
    • Join us as we talk to Jeff Jumper, Resiliency Program Manager with the Bureau of Recovery at the PA Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), to discuss some of our weather normal and some of our extremes. From tornadoes to floods, we’ll take a look through the Pennsylvania weather almanac. The program is free, but you must register to receive the link (Learn at Lunchtime registration).

Advance Tickets or Registrations

  • Revolutionary Speaker Series (in-person); Saturday, Jan. 21, Noon-2 pm; Brandywine Battlefield Park
    • Jennifer Janofsky, director and public historian at Red Bank Battlefield, and Wade Catts, principal archaeologist with South River Heritage Consulting, will present a program on recent excavations at Fort Mercer and Red Bank Battlefield Park. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online (Rev Speaker Series tickets).
  • Sensory Hours (in-person); Tuesday, Jan. 24, 9-11 am; Railroad Museum of PA
    • Light, noise, and crowd levels will be lower, and there will be a few quiet spaces in the galleries if you need a break. Severl historic trains will be open with staff on hand to answer questions. Advance tickets required (Sensory Hours 1/24 tickets).
  • Tour of the GP30 (virtual); Tuesday, Jan. 31, 10-10:30 am; Railroad Museum of PA
    • This interactive virtual program is geared to grades K-6 and will provide a behind-the-scenes view of spaces inside the locomotive. Admission is by donation (GP30 Tour info and tickets).
  • Winter Academy (virtual); Thursday, Feb. 9, 6:30-7:30 pm; Drake Well Museum & Park
    • Photographer and retired biology teacher Jeffrey Hall will present a virtual program, "Birds of Venango County," sharing facts and stories about the birds we all know, highlighting some of the birds that are "specialties" of Venango County, and introducing some of the rare birds that visit the county only occasionally (Winter Academy 2/9 info and registration).
  • Rails & Ales 2023 (in-person); Saturday, April 1, 5:30-9 pm; Railroad Museum of PA
    • Taste craft beers among the museum's world-class collection of historic trains in Rolling Stock Hall. Must be age 21 or older to attend; photo ID required at the door. Advance tickets only; VIP tickets tend to sell out quickly (ticket options, including designated driver tickets).