March Madness on the Trails of History

It’s been a few years since I’ve been this happy to say “buh-bye” to February. As I write this we’re back to frigid temps and an apocalyptic forecast after a brief respite. So it looks like March will indeed come in like a lion. Whether it goes out like a lamb remains to be seen. And I've lost the will to share photos of snow and ice, but you know what they look like.

Regardless of the weather (that’s a hopeful statement!), March brings Charter Day (March 9—some programming noted below, more details next week), the beginning of Daylight Savings Time (also March 9), and an uptick in Trails of History programming. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Anthracite Heritage Museum
March 9: “WYSO” The Coal Connection: Art of Frank Wysochansky—in addition to other Charter Day activities, speaker Steven J. Lichak will present a talk about WYSO, a prolific artist whose work tells the story of Pennsylvania coal miners, and then lead a brief tour of the exhibit (open through October). Museum opens at noon, program is at 2 pm.
March 16: Lackawanna Audubon Society—Program is “Nature in Costa Rica,” with Alan Hughes. 2:30 pm.

Brandywine Battlefield
March 9: Charter Day—Site will be open noon-4 pm.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
March 9: Charter Day re-opening—and the site’s largest living history event of the year. Noon-4 pm.
March 16: Spring lecture—Program is at 2 pm.

Cornwall Iron Furnace
March 9: Special Charter Day Tours of the Furnace—tours today will feature a visit from a historical character, in addition to the awesome furnace itself. Noon-4:30 pm.
March 11: Friends Lecture Series—“The Communities of Cornwall Across Time, Part 1,” with Mike Trump and Sue Wentzel (part 2 will be presented in October). Lectures are held in Freeman Hall auditorium at Cornwall Manor. 7 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
March 9: Charter Day Open House—music and dancing, open hearth cooking, storytelling, and much more. Noon-4 pm.
March 23: Women’s History Lecture—Program is at 2 pm.

Drake Well Museum
March 9: Charter Day—presentations about Native American history will be on the program, in addition to the site’s regular offerings. Noon-5 pm.
March 29: Edwin Drake’s Birthday—come celebrate Col. Drake’s 195th birthday by visiting the birthplace of the modern oil industry. Also, March kicks off the monthly meeting and demonstrations of the Oil Valley Blacksmiths (last Saturday of every month through October). 9 am-2 pm. Both are included in regular museum admission.

Eckley Miners’ Village
March 9: Charter Day film presentation—F. Charles Petrillo and Dr. Phil Mosley will present a program of 20th-century anthracite mining films and discuss the history of the anthracite region. Site opens at noon, program is at 2 pm.

Ephrata Cloister
March 1: Museum Store reopens for the season.
March 6, 13, 20, 27: Winter History Class—class began in February, but you can still sign up for the remaining sessions or the field trip on April 3.
March 9: Charter Day—as part of the site festivities, the Ephrata Cloister Chorus will perform in the Saal (meeting house) at 2, 3, and 4 pm (site opens at noon).
March 12: Storytime—designed for preschoolers and their adults, the program pairs a story with a related craft or activity. Cost is $6 for an adult and accompanying child (age 3-5), $3 for each additional child; FREE with family-level membership in Ephrata Cloister Associates. 10-11 am.
March 22: Spring Planting—the next installment in the “Making History Workshops” series. Learn about historic seed and plant varieties and start planning your garden. Cost is $15 ($10 for members of Ephrata Cloister Associates). 10 am-noon.
March 28-29: Stuffed Animal Sleepover—preschoolers can leave a stuffed animal or doll to have an adventure at the site, then return the next morning (with an adult) to take part in the same activities. Cost is $6 for an adult and one child (age 3-5), $3 for each additional child; FREE for family-level members. Drop off is between 3 and 5 pm on 3/28; morning program on 3/29 runs 10 am-noon.

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
March 9: Charter Day—the ship is still under winter cover but it is visible and there’s plenty to see indoors, including the Civil War Medal of Honor exhibit. Noon-4:45 pm.

Fort Pitt Museum
March 9: Charter Day—the museum is open free of charge, 10 am-5 pm.
March 20: Educator Open House—special event for educators to learn what the museum has to offer. Event is free but registration is required. Contact Kate Lukaszewicz, or 412/454-6314. 4:30-8:30 pm.

Graeme Park
March 9: Charter Day—be sure to take a free tour of the Keith House today. Noon-4 pm.

Hope Lodge
March 9: Charter Day—the Mansion will be open today free of charge. Noon-4 pm.

Joseph Priestley House
March 9: Charter Day and Dr. Priestley’s Birthday—visit with costumed docents in each room (including the laboratory), watch the Spinners and Weavers Guild at work in the kitchen, and wish Dr. Priestley a happy birthday while he demonstrates the wonders of chemistry in the Pond Building. 1-4 pm (chem demos at 1:30 and 2:30).

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
March 1, 22, 29: Folk Art & Friendship Classes—intro to papercutting, tole painting, and scratched eggs are the topics for this month’s classes hosted by the museum store (registration required, details on the website). 1-3 pm.
March 5, 12: Homeschool classes—featured crafts and target age group vary (more information here). 9 am-noon.
March 9: Exhibit opening—Charter Day is the launch point for a new temporary exhibit, “Chairs! Chairs! Chairs! Handcrafted Traditions from Rural Pennsylvania, 1750-1875,” which will be on view through December. Other Charter Day activities include craft demonstrations, horse-drawn wagon rides (weather permitting), and tours. Noon-5 pm.
March 22: Heirloom Seed Project Grafting Workshop—for anyone who’s wanted to learn how to graft apple varieties, this program, a collaboration between the HSP and the Backyard Fruit Growers, is it. For $30, you get instruction, hands-on practice, and scion and rootstock to take home with you. Registration is required by March 16; call 717/569-0401 x254.

Old Economy Village
March 8-9: Charter Day and Center for Hope Weekend—Admission is free, but the site will be collecting canned or boxed food items for Ambridge’s Center for Hope. Please bring hearty foods that can be the basis for a meal (such as soups, spaghetti and/or sauce, stews, etc.). Saturday, 10 am-5 pm; Sunday, noon-5 pm.
March 8, 29: Community College of Beaver County—is offering a series of non-credit courses taught on-site at OEV. March 8 is DIY Wine-Making, March 29 is Homemade Bread Baking (using one of the site’s brick bake ovens). “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou”… More info is on the website.

Pennsbury Manor
March 9: 75th Anniversary Kick-off—Pennsbury Manor opened to the public as a historic site in 1939. In honor of the event, the original 1681 Charter conveying to William Penn the land that became Pennsylvania will be on display at Pennsbury, rather than in Harrisburg (where it normally lives in the Pennsylvania State Archives vault). There will be plenty of activities and special visitors on site that day. Admission is free, but visitors are asked to bring non-perishable food items for the Penndel Food Pantry. 1-4 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
March 5: Friends’ Richard Koontz Memorial Lecture Series—“An Army of Lions: The Union Army at Gettysburg,” with author Jeff Wert, who will examine the leadership and fighting prowess of the army’s common soldier. Donations accepted. 7:30 pm.
March 8-9: Military Movie Madness Festival—PMM kicks off the 2014 museum season with three films exploring military themes. Included in museum admission on Saturday; admission on Sunday is free for Charter Day. Movie details and showtimes are on the PMM website.
March 22: Documentary Film—“You Enter Germany: Bloody Huertgen and the Siegfried Line,” a German documentary released in 2007 includes archival footage and interviews with veterans. Donations accepted. 1:30 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
March 8: Read Across America Day—celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday by wearing your favorite hat and listening to stories read by an array of special guests. There will also be a Suitcase Adventure activity, with travel stickers from Pennsylvania railroads. Registration fee is required for “Breakfast with the Conductor and Catcher”; call the museum—717/687-3892—to see if there are still spaces available. The program (except breakfast) is included in regular admission. Museum open 9 am-5 pm; story times are every 45 minutes from 9:30 to 3:30 (there is no 12:30 story).
March 9: Charter Day-the museum is open free of charge from noon to 5 pm.

Somerset Historical Center
March 8-9: Sugar in the Mountains, Maple Taste and Tour—experience Somerset County’s maple history and visit the site’s 1860s sugar camp; includes tractor-drawn wagon rides. Included in regular admission.
March 22: Tatting: Lace Making Workshop—this is for beginners, with instructor Carolyn Graves, an experienced lace maker. You’ll end up with a nice starter kit and booklet to keep making needle-tatted lace. $40 includes materials ($35 for members). Call 814/445-6077 to register.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
There are lots of things going on this month at the State Museum, so I’m just going to link to the press release and let you explore for yourselves.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
March 9: Charter Day—site will be open free of charge and new temporary exhibits will be opening in the Visitor Center. 10 am-4 pm.

A Mid-Winter Roundup on the Trails of History

Sunset, Pennsbury Manor, February 2014 from Facebook

A full list of February events was posted a few weeks ago, and I’ve updated it as best I could.

In other news…

Tomorrow is Museum Curator Appreciation Day, so you have just enough time to buy a card for that special curator in your life. Seriously, I want to send out a hearty “thank you” to my curator colleagues on the Trails of History. You know who you are.

Old Economy Village has been feeling the media love. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Len Barcousky quoted from an account of the Harmonist community written by Sarah Jane Clarke in 1847 and from the announcement of the death of founder George Rapp shortly thereafter. And Bobby Cherry reported on the Rapp Houses Restoration project for Trib Total Media, including photos of the ongoing work.

Tuesday, Feb. 25, is the deadline to register for the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s “Breakfast with the Conductor and Catcher” (Catcher is the museum’s mascot) on March 8. The breakfast kicks off “Read Across America Day” at the museum. Prepaid reservations are required for breakfast, but not for the rest of the program, which is included in regular admission.

Blog roundup: You may be interested to read recent posts about winter at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Student Historians at Ephrata Cloister, or the aforementioned Rapp Houses project at Old Economy Village.

The Anthracite Heritage Museum is one of the contributing partners to a new community art exhibit at Scranton’s Everhart Museum. The exhibit, “WWII on the Homefront,” includes collages developed by area historical organizations and others incorporating letters, photos, advertising, etc. documenting life in Scranton during the war.

Drake Well Museum posted photos from the Historic Pithole Sledding Party on Feb. 8, so I’ll leave you with a sample (you can find the rest on their Facebook page.)

Sledding Party at Pithole from Facebook

Enjoy your weekend!

6 Things on the Trails of History to Take Your Mind off Impending Doom

Pond at Graeme Park after ice storm via Facebook

Are there 6 things listed below? Maybe. How can I be expected to count when the biggest storm of the winter is bearing down on us? Either that, or the most overhyped storm of the winter so far. I hope it’s the latter, because, as you know if you’ve read Trailheads lately, I’ve had it with winter. Had. It. (In case you missed them, you can catch up on my rants and whining with posts from last week, the week before, or the week before that, and so on.)

The February program listing was posted two weeks ago and I have made a couple of updates since then. Please check ahead on all programs (by website, Facebook, or phone) to be sure they’re going on as scheduled.

So anyway. Happy Valentine’s Day to those celebrating. In honor of the holiday, Pennsbury Manor’s blog takes a look at marriage among 17th-century Quakers in Pennsylvania.

And speaking of holidays, most sites are closed on Feb. 17 for Presidents Day, but you can visit Fort Pitt Museum or the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

And speaking of Presidents Day (sorry for the stream of consciousness), the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History blog, “O Say Can You See?” recently included a post talking about the connections between President Thomas Jefferson and Dr. Joseph Priestley, whose home in Northumberland is part of the PA Trails of History. How cool is that? (Thanks to the PA Trails of History FB page for the link!)

Workers pause during construction of Pennsylvania Station, NYC, early 1900s
Pennsylvania State Archives, MG-286

Here’s an item that links several PHMC areas of responsibility: On Tuesday, Feb. 18, on PBS’s The American Experience, you can watch a documentary about New York’s Pennsylvania Station that includes 23 photos from the PA State Archives Penn Central Railroad collection (MG-286). The original Penn Station was completed in 1910 as a terminal for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) (many PRR locomotives, other rolling stock, and associated artifacts are preserved and displayed at the Railroad Museum of PA). Today’s Penn Station is sort of an underground remnant of the grand Beaux-Arts building demolished in 1963 to make way for Madison Square Garden, an event that is generally credited with spurring the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 that, among other things, established state historic preservation offices (PHMC is the SHPO for Pennsylvania).

At the Tall Ships America Conference earlier this month, US Brig Niagara’s Senior Captain, Walter Rybka, was recognized for his role in making the bicentennial reenactment of the Battle of Lake Erie such a success. Congratulations to Walter and to all who worked on the bicentennial events throughout the Great Lakes.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Ephrata Cloister and sit in on week 2 of the Winter History Class, where Dr. Jeff Bach, who has done extensive research and writing on the history of the religious community at Ephrata, updated the group on his work with some newly discovered letters that shed light on a division in the community in the 1740s. I also stuck around for the afternoon meeting of the site’s Student Historians and took part in a hands-on session about pottery decoration (sgraffito, to be exact) led by redware artists Ned Foltz and Sam Shoemaker. After tracing designs prepared by Ned, we scratched the decoration into the clay; the final product will be delivered after the pieces are glazed and fired. My effort is below (I will not be quitting my day job). Thanks to Michael Showalter and Rebecca Lawrence for letting me hang out and exercise a little creativity.

Not too terrible for my first attempt

I'm Blaming the Groundhog for Everything

When Punxsutawney Phil said we’d have six more weeks of winter, I didn’t think he meant we’d have all of it this week. With office closings and delays, wonky train service, and an acute case of the winter blahs, I haven’t pulled much together for this week’s post.

Scranton Iron Furnaces via Facebook, photo by Jill Murrin

So, here’s a link to last week’s post of events in February. I would strongly suggest checking ahead about events scheduled for this weekend (or any other time this month). All parts of the state are experiencing winter-like weather with a vengeance, and some events are more weather-sensitive than others.

In the meantime, I’m going to think happy thoughts and pretend that spring is just around the corner. No matter what anybody else says. I’m lookin’ at you, Phil.