The USS Pennsylvania

The USS Pennsylvania Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual). I've included highlights below. The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen offer an array of online content generated by Trails of History sites. Also, if you're looking for a Covid vaccine provider, check out Vaccines.gov and enter your zip code.

Please note that staff and volunteers at Commonwealth of PA worksites, including the PA Trails of History, are wearing masks while indoors. Visitors are encouraged, though not required, to do so as well.


Two long gray 66-ton artillery guns from USS Pennsylvania mounted on concrete supports. Military members and civilians are gathered nearby for a public event.
Two 66-ton guns from the USS Pennsylvania were installed at the PA Military Museum in 2009 (photo PA Military Museum)

On Tuesday, December 7, at 12:45 pm, the Pennsylvania Military Museum will host a remembrance ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the Japanese Imperial Navy's attack on the American military installation at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. This annual event takes place beneath the museum's two massive guns from the USS Pennsylvania (official designation: BB-38) that were installed on the grounds in 2009 after years spent at a US Navy facility in Dahlgren, Virginia. Bringing the guns to Boalsburg was a long-term effort, led by the Friends of the PA Military Museum and museum staff. Recently, the mount for the guns was overhauled, and the museum posted about it on their Facebook page (Pennsy gun post on Facebook).

You can learn more about the Pennsy Guns and the PA Military Museum by tuning in to PA History: Read It, See It at noon on December 16. This program is a collaboration between PHMC and the State Library of Pennsylvania that provides a brief virtual visit to a Trails of History site and info on related library materials. To sign up for Dec. 16, send an email to ra-edmakerspace@pa.gov with your name and the date/topic of the event. They'll add you to the list to receive a Zoom link closer to the program date (catch up with previous PA History: Read It, See It programs).

The designation "USS Pennsylvania" refers to multiple ships. As is tradition in the U.S. Navy, names are reused for different generations of ships as time passes. The first USS Pennsylvania launched in 1837, and the current holder of the name is SSBN-735, a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine launched in 1988. The ship (BB-38) where the museum's guns saw action launched in 1915, saw service in two world wars, and was sunk during atomic bomb testing in 1948. There is some newsreel footage of BB-38 undergoing maintenance at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1930 that shows 14-inch guns like those at the museum being added to the ship's armament (could be the actual guns, but it's probably not possible to tell from the film). Tip of the hat to Charlie Fox for the link to the Fox Movietone News Collection at the Univ. of South Carolina (USS Pennsylvania Gets New Set of Guns).

Tall slender Christmas tree with white lights and ornaments stands next to the marble fireplace. A dozen or more nutracker figures of different sizes are placed on window sills and tables around the room.
One of Hope Lodge's colonial revival rooms decorated for Christmas (photo via HL Facebook page)

The Week Ahead

Today, December 3
  • StoryTime (in-person): read An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola; The State Museum of PA; 10:30-11:30 am; for kids ages 2 to Pre-K and included in regular admission (StoryTime info)
  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual): curator Amy Hammond talks with Lauren Whearty and Kelly Kautz, whose works are included in the 2021 Art of the State exhibition; The State Museum of PA; 12:15-12:45 pm (register for Learn at Lunchtime)
Saturday, December 4
  • Christmas Open House (in-person): guided tours of the furnace, unique gifts and gift wrapping, holiday decorations, and light seasonal refreshments; Cornwall Iron Furnace; 9 am-7 pm; included in regular admission (Open House info)
  • Home for the Holidays (in-person): costumed staff will evoke the past, you can have a virtual visit with Santa, send a telegram to the North Pole, and enjoy festive decorations and music; The Railroad Museum of PA; 10 am-4 pm (also takes place on Dec. 11); included in regular admission (Home for the Holidays info)
  • Holiday Mansion Tours (in-person): guided tours of the mansion decorated for the season; Hope Lodge; tours at 11:30 am, 1 pm, 2:30 pm; regular admission charged, but today it includes cookies and hot chocolate (Mansion Tours info)
Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5
  • Christmas at Eckley (in-person): carolers and cocoa, crafts and St. Nick; Eckley Miners' Village; 10 am-4 pm both days; admission is $7, $1 discount with food pantry donation (Christmas at Eckley info)
  • Staying Warm in the Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge (in-person): living historians will be encamped from 10 am to 4 pm near the Sherman Tank both days, lecture at 2:30 pm Saturday on Major Dick Winters; Pennsylvania Military Museum; Battle of the Bulge events are free, regular admission applies to tour the museum galleries (PMM event info)
  • Christmas at the Village (in-person): visit the historic buildings to learn about 19th-century trades and traditions, listen to music, shop for handcrafted items, and visit with Belsnickel; Old Economy Village; Saturday 2-9 pm, Sunday 2-7 pm; regular admission charged (Christmas at the Village info)
Sunday, December 5
  • Christmas Open House (in-person): living historians will be on site for this festive event; Conrad Weiser Homestead; noon-4 pm (Open House info)
  • Children's Christmas Party (in-person): children ages 5-12 are invited for an afternoon of games, crafts, and a visit with Santa; Bushy Run Battlefield; 1-3 pm; cost is $5 (Christmas Party info)
  • Artists Conversations Gallery Tour (in-person): artist Harold Zabady will lead a casual tour of the 2021 Art of the State exhibition; The State Museum of PA; 2-3 pm; included in regular admission (Gallery Tour info)
Wednesday, December 8
  • Explore! (in-person): learn about ways to make art from items in nature; The State Museum of PA; 11:30 am-12:30 pm; for kids in grades 3-5 and included in regular admission (Explore! info)
Thursday, December 9
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person): learn about firetrucks and the history of firefighting in Pennsylvania; The State Museum of PA; 11:30 am-12:30 pm; for kids in grades K-2 and included in regular admission. Space is limited so be sure to sign up at the Ground Floor Information Desk when you arrive (Curiosity Kids info)

On Sale Now (as of 12/1; some programs will sell out)

  • Christmas at the Cloister: Ephrata Cloister presents a program of lessons and carols in the historic Meetinghouse, with performances at 6:30 and 8 pm. Tickets available online for Dec. 14 (Dec. 13 sold out) via Ticketleap (Christmas at the Cloister info and tickets).
  • Lantern Tours: Dec. 27-30 at Ephrata Cloister learn about the site's history through living history tours and performances; advance tickets required, on sale starting Dec. 1 (Lantern Tour info)
  • Winter Day Camp: on Dec. 29 from 9 am to 4:30 pm Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum will present a day camp for kids in grades 5-11; the focus is Christmas Around the World and includes a themed escape room; cost is $60 per camper ($54 for members) (Day Camp info and registration)
  • Rails and Ales: enjoy an evening of craft beer among the museum's historic trains at the Railroad Museum of PA, April 9, 2022, 5:30-9 pm; must be 21 or older to attend; variety of ticket options, including designated driver tickets (Rails and Ales tickets)

What Now?

What Now? Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual). I've included highlights below. The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen offer an array of online content generated by Trails of History sites. Also, if you're looking for a Covid vaccine provider, check out Vaccines.gov and enter your zip code.

Please note that staff and volunteers at Commonwealth of PA worksites, including the PA Trails of History, are wearing masks while indoors. Visitors are encouraged, though not required, to do so as well.


3-story wooden buildings with steep roofs sit at right angles to each other. Light shines out from rows of small windows on each building and there are lamps lighting the pathways in front.
You can tour buildings at Ephrata Cloister by candlelight tomorrow night, Nov. 27 (photo via Ephrata Facebook page)


I hope that you had a pleasant and safe Thanksgiving with plenty of whatever you needed from the occasion. If you are looking for things to do today (Nov. 26), please note that most Trails of History sites are closed. Bushy Run Battlefield, Fort Pitt Museum, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania are open today. Other sites on the trails will resume their normal seasonal hours tomorrow (except the Erie Maritime Museum, which will be closed). As I always say, please be sure to check ahead to be sure the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there. I've noted some events below that take place this weekend.

As you probably know Nov. 27 is Small Business Saturday, and Nov. 28 is Museum Store Sunday. Historic sites and museums can always use your support, so please consider visiting and shopping on the Trails of History this weekend. Bushy Run Battlefield is holding a Used Book Sale today through Sunday, and Somerset Historical Center's Christmas Craft Shoppe, featuring handmade items by local vendors, will be open Wednesday to Saturday (starting tomorrow) through December 23. Our other museum stores have loads of themed and seasonal merchandise for your gift-giving needs (no one will tell if you keep them for yourself, either).

Do your interests run more to the spirit of #OptOutside? Many sites have beautiful grounds and/or trails that can provide plenty of fresh air; others are adjacent to or very close to state parks and forests (please note this safety reminder from the Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources).

If family history (in PA) was a topic of history around your Thanksgiving table, you can follow-up with some research using resources digitized by the Pennsylvania State Archives. From birth and death records indices to military service records and more, plus links to other digital records collections, the Archives is a great place to start your search(Digital Collections page).

The Week Ahead

Saturday, Nov. 27
  • Christmas in the Colonies (in-person): explore different traditions as you tour the Keith House and watch the Tapestry Historic Dance Ensemble; Graeme Park; 3-5 pm; tickets are $10 for ages 13 and up, $7 for members and ages 6-12 (Graeme Park info)
  • Candlelight Open House (in-person): stroll the grounds, visit with craftspeople, and enjoy music performed by the Ephrata Cloister Chorus; Ephrata Cloister; 5:30-8 pm; tickets are $7 (Open House info)
Sunday, Nov. 28
  • Sunday Sewing Circle (in-person): bring your projects and spend time with other stitchers; Bushy Run Battlefield; 1-4 pm (Sewing Circle info)
Monday, Nov. 29
Wednesday, Dec. 1
  • Explore! (in-person): learn about Pennsylvania owls and their habits; The State Museum of PA; 11:30 am-12:30 pm; for kids in grades 3-5 and included in regular admission (Explore! info)
  • Deadline for required advance tickets for Pennsbury Manor's Holly Nights, which takes place Dec. 2 and 3, 6-9 pm (Holly Nights info and tickets)
Thursday, Dec. 2
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person): visit the Art of the State exhibition to learn about how artists use color; The State Museum of PA; 11:30 am-12:30 pm; for kids in grades K-2 and included in regular admission (Curiosity Kids info)

On Sale Now (as of 11/24; some programs will sell out)

  • Ethnic Traditions: on Dec. 5 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, Somerset Historical Center will partner with local families for a program on cultural traditions, food, and music of Japan, Italy, and Bangladesh; cost is $20 per person (Ethnic Traditions ticket info)
  • Christmas at the Cloister: Ephrata Cloister presents a program of lessons and carols in the historic Meetinghouse on Dec. 13 and 14, with performances at 6:30 and 8 pm each evening. Tickets available online via Ticketleap (Christmas at the Cloister info and tickets).
  • Lantern Tours: Dec. 27-30 at Ephrata Cloister learn about the site's history through living history tours and performances; advance tickets required, on sale starting Dec. 1 (Lantern Tour info)
  • Winter Day Camp: on Dec. 29 from 9 am to 4:30 pm Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum will present a day camp for kids in grades 5-11; the focus is Christmas Around the World and includes a themed escape room; cost is $60 per camper ($54 for members) (Day Camp info and registration)

Thanksgiving Awaits

Thanksgiving Awaits Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual). I've included highlights below. The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen offer an array of online content generated by Trails of History sites. Also, if you're looking for a Covid vaccine provider, check out Vaccines.gov and enter your zip code.

Please note that staff and volunteers at Commonwealth of PA worksites, including the PA Trails of History, are wearing masks while indoors. Visitors are encouraged, though not required, to do so as well.


Wooden table with blue and white tablecloth set with reproduction turkey, pies, bread, potatoes, and two candles in front of a large brick cooking fireplace.
Conrad Weiser Homestead's Candlelight Tours take place tomorrow (see info below)

The next Trailheads post won't be until next Friday, so I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a safe and healthy Thanksgiving. I hope that you have found many things to be thankful for this year and that you will have the chance to share time with family and friends. I am thankful for my husband and all of my family and am grateful that we have weathered the pandemic fairly well so far, although many of the young adult generation battled Covid cases in 2020 and 2021. I am grateful, as always, for the work that my colleagues here at PHMC are doing to share the rich and complicated history of Pennsylvania with the public and to explore ways to improve everyone's access to that history. The flexibility, creativity, and perseverance of our staff and volunteers are a source of inspiration for me. I say "thank you" to them and to all of you for reading Trailheads.

All Pennsylvania Trails of History sites and museums will be closed on Nov. 25 for Thanksgiving. Most will also be closed on Friday, Nov. 26; Bushy Run Battlefield, Fort Pitt Museum, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania will be open that day. Everyone else will resume their current operating hours on Saturday, Nov. 27; please see the list below for some special programs as well. When you're making plans to the holiday weekend, please remember your favorite Trails of History sites on Small Business Saturday and Museum Store Sunday.

If you're interested in new approaches to the traditional Thanksgiving narrative, Native Knowledge 360 (a program of the National Museum of the American Indian) has a broad range of educational resources, such as Rethinking Thanksgiving Celebrations, which features Wampanoag perspectives on their ancestors' dealings with the Pilgrims in coastal Massachusetts.

Zoom screenshot showing 17th-century printed cookbook, image of a 17th-century round pumpkin pie, and images of presenters
As I was thinking about some menu ideas (but it turns out I'm just making apple pie this year), I remembered that our first PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase last December featured holiday foods. You can watch the program (and other past showcases) on PHMC's YouTube channel (December 2020 Collections Showcase) and see a compilation of recipes from the show on Trailheads (recipe page). Just like on the Cooking Channel! You'll also find an interesting post about heritage turkeys on the Assn. for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums blog (read about heritage turkeys).

The Week (or so) Ahead

Today, November 19
Saturday, November 20
  • Candlelight Tours (in-person): visit the year 1755 with guided tours, Native American storyteller Darius Puff, and musician Catherine Hollen; Conrad Weiser Homestead; 5:30-8 pm (Candlelight Tours info)
Sunday, November 21
  • Historic Foodways Demonstration (in-person): visit the kitchen to see what the cooks are working on; Pennsbury Manor; 1-4 pm; included in regular admission (Foodways info)
Wednesday, November 24
  • Explore! (in-person): visit the Art of the State exhibition and learn how artists use line in their work; The State Museum of PA; 11:30 am-12:30 pm; for kids in grades 3-5 and included in regular admission (Explore! info)
Saturday, November 27
  • Wreaths & Greens Workshops (in-person): make a festive wreath to take home and learn some tips for caring for evergreens in your yard; Pennsbury Manor; 10 am-noon or 1-3 pm; cost is $35 ($31.50 for members) and pre-registration is required (Pennsbury's website has more info)
  • Christmas in the Colonies (in-person): learn about different traditions as you tour the Keith House and watch the Tapestry Historic Dance Ensemble; Graeme Park; 3-5 pm (tours start every 30 minutes from 3:30 to 5); tickets are $10 for ages 13 and up, $7 for members and ages 6-12 (Graeme Park website for more info)
  • Candlelight Open House (in-person): enjoy an evening of art, spinning, and music; Ephrata Cloister; 5-8:30 pm; tickets are $7 for age 3 and up, available at the door or in advance via Ticketleap (Ephrata Open House tickets online)
Sunday, November 28
  • Sunday Sewing Circle (in-person): bring your projects and spend time with other stitchers; Bushy Run Battlefield; 1-4 pm (Sewing Circle info)

On Sale Now (as of 11/17; some programs will sell out)

  • Holly Nights: experience Pennsbury Manor by candlelight Dec. 2 and 3 from 6 to 9 pm; tickets must be purchased in advance by Dec. 1 (Holly Nights info and tickets).
  • Gingerbread Cookie Kits: Railroad Museum of PA is accepting orders for train-shaped gingerbread cookies. Choose 12 cookies per box (plain) or 6 cookies per box with vanilla icing bag and sprinkles for $20. Orders must be picked up at the museum on either Dec. 4 (10 am-3 pm), Dec. 10 (4-6 pm), or Dec. 11 (10 am-3 pm). Deadline for orders is Nov. 29 (RMP cookie flyer for details).
  • Christmas with the Conductor: kids ages 3 and older will get to board one of the Railroad Museum of PA's historic railroad cars to hear a classic holiday story. Other activities are also part of the program. The program is offered Dec. 4 and Dec. 11 with three storytimes each day. The $10 program fee is in addition to museum admission. Deadline for registrations is Nov. 29, but space is limited and this program usually sells out quickly (Christmas with Conductor info and tickets).
  • Ethnic Traditions: on Dec. 5 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, Somerset Historical Center will partner with local families for a program on cultural traditions, food, and music of Japan, Italy, and Bangladesh; cost is $20 per person (Ethnic Traditions ticket info)
  • Christmas at the Cloister: Ephrata Cloister presents a program of lessons and carols in the historic Meetinghouse on Dec. 13 and 14, with performances at 6:30 and 8 pm each evening. Tickets available online via Ticketleap (Christmas at the Cloister info and tickets).