8 Reasons I Heart History This Week

Please be sure to visit the February program page to see what's up on the Trails of History. Fort Pitt Museum and the Railroad Museum of PA will be open on Presidents Day (Mon., Feb. 15); all other Trails of History sites will be closed.

When I think of Valentine's Day, I think about my sweetie. And then I think about sweets (really, it's true). Somerset Historical Center has some great programs and exhibits related to maple sugaring, historically and currently important to life and commerce in Somerset County (and elsewhere in Pennsylvania as well). They were recently featured on the cover of Pennlines magazine (published by the Somerset Rural Electric Cooperative) and will be part of a maple-themed tour March 12-13, with lots of maple-related activities (and maple kettle corn, oh my).

They're already tapping maple trees at Somerset Historical Center (via FB)

Or check out an article from Lancaster Online about a recent hearth cooking class at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. The article has lots of pictures of the sweets and savories baked by the students in the museum's outdoor bake oven.

And we can't talk about Valentine's Day and sweets without talking about chocolate! At least I can't. For Charter Day, March 13, Daniel Boone Homestead will host presenters from Mars Chocolate Company's American Heritage Chocolate program. So, okay that's a month from now. You might want to get some chocolate to tide you over. A number of sites on the ol' TOH sell American Heritage Chocolate in their museum stores. Just a thought.

I ran across a personals ad earlier this week: "Museum of lumber history ISO loveable bear that disappeared from parking lot. No questions asked. Just want you back." Seriously, though. The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum posted on Facebook this week looking for information about a large fiberglass statue of Smokey Bear that was unceremoniously chainsawed from its base (cut off at the ankles, actually) more than 35 years ago. At the time of the theft, there were no leads. The museum staff are hoping that through the power of social media, they may be able to turn up some clues. They'd like to at least know what happened to the statue, even if it's not recoverable.

In the "Romance of Ruins" department (my motto: anything for a theme), RoadsideAmerica.com posted an article about Historic Pithole City earlier this week (or maybe reposted, since the director quoted in the piece retired several years ago). To grossly oversimplify, Pithole was an oil boomtown that sprang up and disappeared in the space of a few years. It is part of the Trails of History and is under the care of Drake Well Museum. If you can stand the cold, they're hosting a sledding party tomorrow (2/13), assuming there has been enough snow (if not, it will be moved to Feb. 20, so check ahead). UPDATE, 2/12/16: it's just going to be toooooooo cold tomorrow, so the sledding party is postponed until Feb. 20.

Did you ever write the initials of your latest "crush" on the book cover of your math textbook? No? It's just me? Well, in 1835 16-year-old Amanda Degall embroidered the name and initials of her main squeeze, Matthew B. Rodgers, on a sheer muslin fichu (shawl) that is now in the collection at the State Museum of PA. Read more (including the sentimental lines Amanda also embroidered) and see photos on this week's PA Treasures feature.

And two non-Trails of History items, just because...

PA Museums tweeted a link to the Franklin Institute's Nerdy Valentines for 2016. Very cute (and there's a Ben Franklin electricity one, so that's history, too). It made me wonder if any history museums had created anything similar, but I wasn't able to find anything with a quick Google search. I did find some non-museum history-themed and very funny (some of them anyway) valentines, but they were NSFT (Not Safe for Trailheads). UPDATE 9:30 AM: Thanks to the folks at Washington Crossing, who shared the New York Public Library's Presidential Valentine Card page on FB.

Things are gearing up for Museum Dance Off 3: Tokyo Drift, a music video contest run by the wonderful folks at the "When You Work at a Museum" tumblr. To find out more about submitting a video or to mark your calendar to start viewing and voting on entries in April, visit the contest page. You can watch the official trailer for last year's contest on YouTube. I'm including this because I love Museum Dance Off almost as much as I love chocolate (but not nearly as much as I love my sweetie).

It's going to be very cold this weekend, campers. So whether you're snuggling up with a loved one, a favorite pet, or your Netflix subscription (or all three), stay warm and think about the Trails of History!


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