Thanksgiving Week at a Glance

First of all, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for and try to have the good sense never to take any of it for granted. I hope that you and yours are warm, safe, and well fed. And I hope that we all find ways in the coming weeks and months to help people who aren't as fortunate.

Fall garden scene at Pennsbury Manor (via Facebook)
All PA Trails of History sites will be closed tomorrow, Nov. 23, for Thanksgiving Day. If you still want some history, how about participating in The Great Thanksgiving Listen? This is an initiative developed by Story Corps (#TheGreatListen) to help teachers and students conduct oral history interviews with family members, but the app and questions (and the ability to save interviews in the Story Corps Archive) are available to everyone. There's even a printable placemat that might make a great addition to the kids' table. Whether you're recording interviews or not, the placemat provides some conversation starters that can help any gathering along or keep it from going off the rails.

Some sites will be open on Friday, Nov. 24, and I've indicated that in the schedule below. The info is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but as always, it's a good idea to check with specific sites if you're making a special trip to visit them. Friday is also a good day to #OptOutside and visit one of Pennsylvania's many state parks.

Stoneware mugs at Cornwall Iron Furnace Museum Store (via Sunset Hill Stoneware's Facebook page)
That brings us to Saturday, Nov. 25. Trails of History sites will be back to their regular schedules - please note that some sites are now on winter seasonal schedules. As noted above, be sure to check that the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there. I've noted special events below. If you want to participate in Small Business Saturday and #shopsmall, remember that our museum stores are great places to buy locally made crafts and art. Not to mention regional and local food specialties or one-of-a-kind gifts.

Redware plates and other traditional items at Ephrata Cloister Museum Store (via Facebook)
If your Saturday is full, why not spend Sunday, Nov. 26, on the Trails of History supporting #MuseumStoreSunday? This is a new program from the Museum Store Association, and many PHMC sites will be taking part (at least informally). Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum has been updating an album on their Facebook page with beautiful stuff from their Museum Store. (I wanted to share, but I couldn't pick just one - please visit the album and the site to see for yourself.) You can read about deals at Landis Valley and the Railroad Museum of PA in this article from LancasterOnline.

On #CyberMonday, Nov. 27, visit the Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara website to book your 2018 Day Sails (actually that deal is going on Nov. 24 through Nov. 27, but I'm trying to work a theme here). Save $10 per member or non-member ticket and beat the spring rush. Gift cards are also available online.

Day sailors on board U.S. Brig Niagara, 2010 (AKF photo)
Tuesday, Nov. 28, brings an opportunity to follow-up all that holiday eating and shopping with donations to good causes of your choosing. One such cause on the Trails of History is the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation (PHF) #GivingTuesday project. PHF is the PHMC's support organization and this year has a #GivingTuesday goal of $3,000 to assist school visits to PHMC's sites and museums. PHF will post more specific info on Tuesday, but they'll use their Annual Fund page to receive #GivingTuesday donations. UPDATE: info posted today, Monday, Nov. 27.

It seems to me that we need a hashtag for the Wednesday after Thanksgiving to round out the week, but I haven't found one. #WhateverWednesday to denote our exhaustion and apathy might be a possibility but maybe that's too cynical. C'mon Trailheads nation, let's start a trend - post your suggestions in the comments.

Holiday weekend schedule...

Brandywine Battlefield Park
Nov. 25: Patriot’s Day—living history demonstrations, musket drills, blacksmith, house tours, and 18th-century medical "experts"--lots of activities for all ages. At 2 pm, Dr. Robert Selig will present "The Politics of Arming America: The Vallière 4-lb Cannon at Brandywine," which will help answer questions on how/why this piece came to America during the Revolution and will also discuss its importance in assisting the American cause of liberty. 10 am-4 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Nov. 24: Day After Thanksgiving—site open 10 am-4 pm.

Drake Well Museum and Park
Nov. 25: Something More Saturday—members of the Venango County ARES/RACES ham radio club will be on hand to help visitors speak with Santa at the North Pole. There will also be holiday craft projects using recycled materials and other family-friendly activities (details on Facebook). Included in regular admission (special group admission: buy 2 full-price adult tickets and get 3 youth tickets free). Site open 9 am-5 pm; special programming, 10 am-3 pm.

Ephrata Cloister
Nov. 25: Candlelight Open House—spend a lovely evening exploring the Ephrata Cloister, with music, craftspeople, and more. Cost is $6 per person. 5-8:30 pm.

Fort Pitt Museum
Nov. 24: Day After Thanksgiving—site open 10 am-5 pm.

Graeme Park
Nov. 25: A Continental Christmas—more than 2,000 men of the Continental Army were encamped around Graeme Park from December 1777 through January 1778. Learn about what Christmas was like that year for the soldiers and the residents of Graeme Park. Suggested donation, $2 (free for members). 10 am-3 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 24: Day After Thanksgiving—site open 9 am-5 pm.
Nov. 24: Last Day for Reservations—advance registration is required for the museum's Christmas with the Conductor parties, scheduled for Dec. 2 and 9 (see flyer for details).

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Please check the website for details on this weekend's schedule.

Life Comes at You Fast

Next week will be busy with Thanksgiving preparation and clean-up, so why not take some time this weekend for a nice quiet visit on the PA Trails of History? (The November program page has a full list.) UPDATE: I've also included info below about a few programs coming up in December for which limited advance tickets are currently on sale. Watch for the full December program page going online at the end of November.

Bushy Run Battlefield
Nov. 18: Masquerade Harvest Ball—kids ages 4 to 12 are invited to dance the minuet (we'll teach you), decorate masquerade masks, play colonial games, and enjoy a light snack. Come in costume if you like. Cost is $2 per person. Reservations are a must: contact Marlene Sawayda at 724/744-4193 or to register. 2-4 pm.

Candlelight at Conrad Weiser Homestead (via Facebook)
Conrad Weiser Homestead
Nov. 18: Candlelight Tours—this annual program features Native American storytelling, 18th-century music, and a chance to see the site by night. This is an all-weather event. Admission is free (donations gratefully accepted). 5:30-8 pm (last tour starts at 7:30).

Cornwall Iron Furnace
House Tour Tickets on Sale—tickets for this year's Christmas at Cornwall House Tour (scheduled for Dec. 2) are now on sale. There will be 5 stops in Lebanon, 4 in Cornwall and 3 in Mt. Gretna. Furnace tours are also included in the ticket price - $15 in advance, $20 on the day. For details and advance tickets contact the Museum Office at 717/272-9711 or stop by the site during regular hours.

Ephrata Cloister
Tickets for Christmas at the Cloister—tickets are currently on sale for this annual event that features seasonal readings and music in the historic meetinghouse. The program takes place on Dec. 11 and 12, with two performances each night, 6:30 and 8 pm. Seating is limited. Tickets are $6 per person; call 717/733-2592.
Nov. 17: Extraordinary Give—Ephrata Cloister will once again participate in the Lancaster County Community Foundation's one-day, online giving campaign. Visit their page anytime between 12:00 am and 11:59 pm to donate.

Fort Pitt Museum
Nov. 18: Lecture and Exhibit Tour—get a curator's eye view of the new exhibit, "From Maps to Mermaids: Carved Powder Horns in Early America." Program is included in regular admission, but advance registration is highly recommended (visit website for more registration info). 11 am-1 pm.

Graeme Park
Nov. 18: Paranormal Investigation—Glenn Orwan III and Olde City Paranormal will lead an investigation and equipment seminar. Cost is $50 per person (also includes refreshments); advance registrations are required (more details and registration info). 5 pm-midnight.

Joseph Priestley House
Nov. 19: Last day of the season—as of Nov. 20, site closed until Charter Day (except for Twelfth Night event in January or by appointment).

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Nov. 17: Extraordinary Give—Landis Valley will once again participate in the Lancaster County Community Foundation's one-day, online giving campaign. Visit their page anytime between 12:00 am and 11:59 pm to donate.
Nov. 18-19: Landis Valley Museum Store Holiday Open House—shop for locally handmade art, crafts and heirloom-quality gifts and enjoy holiday decorations in the museum store. At 2 pm on Sat., Dave Rippy will be on hand to talk about his memoir, Captain of My Soul: Mastering a Destiny Altered, which recounts his journey following a car crash that left him with paralysis from the shoulders down. Two-day store event is free; regular rates apply for museum admission. Sat., 9 am-5 pm; Sun., noon-5 pm.

Members of the Pittsburgh Opera company will perform again at this year's Christmas Dinner at OEV
Old Economy Village
Reservations available for Christmas Dinner Fundraiser—this annual event, which takes place in the historic Feast Hall on Dec. 6, requires advance reservations (visit the website for details).

Pennsbury Manor
Nov. 19: Cooking Demonstration—join the cooks as they revel in the extravagant use of sugar and spices, using 17th-century confectionary recipes. Included in regular admission. 1-4 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Nov. 17: 3rd "Sunday" Program—this month's 3rd Sunday program will be held on Friday, Nov. 17. Come learn about Night Sky Photography from Curt Weinhold, PA Wilds Juried Artist and board member of the PA Lumber Museum Associates. Weinhold's photography is featured within the museum's exhibits as well (samples of his night sky photography). Potter County has some of the darkest skies around, so this is a great opportunity to explore. Cost is $60, $55 for members. Pre-registration for this limited-space event is required, but you can pay (by check or cash) upon arrival (see Facebook event page for registration and program details). 5-9 pm.

PA Military Museum Kids Day (via Facebook)
Pennsylvania Military Museum
Nov. 18: Kids Day - Dress Up and Discover!!—Kids of all ages get to try on military uniforms from the museum education collection. Photo ops in the museum theatre. Visit the education stations in the galleries for more fun discoveries throughout the day. Parents must remain on-site while their kids participate in the activities. Included in regular admission. 10:00 am-3:00 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Reservations currently open—advance registration is required for the museum's Christmas with the Conductor parties, scheduled for Dec. 2 and 9 (see flyer for details). Deadline to reserve is Nov. 24.
Nov. 17: Extraordinary Give—the Railroad Museum is participating in the Lancaster County Community Foundation's one-day, online giving campaign. Visit their page (listed as "Friends of the Railroad Museum") anytime between 12:00 am and 11:59 pm to donate.

Somerset Historical Center
Nov. 19: Last Day to Register—tickets are limited for the Dec. 3 "Ethnic Traditions" program, sponsored by the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County and hosted by Friedens Lutheran Church. Tickets are $20 per person ($35 for couple) and can be purchased at the Historical Center; call 814/445-6077.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 17: Holiday Marketplace—back by popular demand, in a new location. Shop the Trails of History with representatives from The State Museum of PA, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Ephrata Cloister, and Somerset Historical Center (details). Museum admission will be free for shoppers. Hours on Thursday are 10 am-3 pm. Friday opens at 10 am and runs until 7:30 pm for 3rd in the Burg, and includes a preview of the new exhibit, Every Thing of Interest Shown: T.M. Fowler’s Pennsylvania Bird’s-Eye Views, 1885-1905.

Veterans Day

Trailheads is coming to you a little early this week to make sure to get all the Veterans Day info out there. Please note that due to an adjusted holiday for some state staff, several sites will be closed on Friday, Nov. 10. Some of those will also be closed on Nov. 11, but some will be open. I've indicated schedule changes and holiday openings below, to the best of my knowledge. As always, if you want to visit a specific site, it's best to check their schedule before you go. And please check the November program page for other events at sites on Sunday or the remainder of the month.

But first, a look at military history events that took place on the PA Trails of History prior to this week's holiday.

PMM trench display at Beaver Stadium
WWI trench display at PSU's Beaver Stadium (photo PA Military Museum)
The Pennsylvania Military Museum was invited by the Penn State University All Sports Museum to provide an interpretive display of WWI in support of their temporary exhibit of alumni who participated in the Great War. So outside Beaver Stadium on Oct. 21, as Penn State prepared to beat Michigan, PMM staff and volunteers in period uniforms manned a trench. Museum educator Joe Horvath reports that the tailgaters were quite enthusiastic about honoring veterans: "We were showered with hugs, kisses, high-fives, fist bumps, requests for selfies (many, many, many selfies), food and drink." Although their service post-dated World War I by quite a bit, PMM's representatives at the event were in fact all veterans of military service - Horvath served in the US Navy, volunteer Mark Roland is a US Army veteran, and volunteer Thomas Stoner served in the US Marine Corps. Thank you all for your service and for sharing history with the public.

PMM staff and volunteers as WWI doughboys
From l to r: Joe Horvath, Mark Roland, and Thomas Stoner with PMM's WWI display at Beaver Stadium (photo PA Military Museum)

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania hosted their annual Trains and Troops event last weekend, commemorating and honoring the connections between the U.S. military and the railroads. This rich history is represented in the museum's collections; for this yearly event exhibitors, reenactors, and military honor guard members round out the experience for visitors. You can see photos of the event on Norfolk Southern's Facebook page.

A number of participants and attendees shared photos of Hope Lodge's annual Whitemarsh Encampment. The Revolutionary War reenactment commemorates the period of Nov. 2-Dec. 11, 1777, when General George Washington and the Continental Army encamped in the Whitemarsh Hills before settling in for the winter at Valley Forge. You'll find all sorts of photos on the Historic Hope Lodge Facebook page.

Official 2017 Veterans Day Poster (U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs)

Veterans Day-related activities this weekend...

Brandywine Battlefield Park
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 9 am-4 pm.

Drake Well Museum and Park
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 9 am-5 pm. Admission will be free for veterans. All other visitors will receive a $2.00 per ticket discount with the donation of a personal care item (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, deodorant, etc.) for the Veterans Miracle Center project. Cash donations will also be gratefully accepted.

Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—the museum is open 9 am-5 pm. Admission will be free for veterans and their immediate families. The museum is working with the Presque Isle Partnership to collect personal care items for military personnel; items and cash donations may be dropped off at the museum through today. Elsewhere in the Erie area, U.S. Brig Niagara’s "Ship’s Company 1813" reenactor troupe will again participate in Presque Isle State Park’s third annual Veterans Appreciation Day event, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Park’s Rotary Pavilion.
Nov. 13: Members and Veterans Invited—to commemorate this year's Veterans Day, the museum invites members and veterans to share your stories as we honor your service and sacrifice. The morning will include light refreshments and a behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. Brig Niagara and wood shop with Captain Sabatini and Shipwright Adam Stanisz. We encourage our members to bring any commemorative photos or memorabilia that they would like to share. Please RSVP by Sunday, November 12, to Marcus Masternak at or call 814-452-2744 ext.222.

Fort Pitt Museum
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 10 am-5 pm.

Graeme Park
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 10 am-4 pm. Admission is free for veterans.

Joseph Priestley House
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—site open 1-4 pm.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Nov. 10: Site closed in observance of Veterans Day.
Nov. 11: Site open 9 am-5 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—museum open 9 am-5 pm. Locally made, hand-crafted, and holiday-themed items will be featured by a variety of vendors in the museum program room from 10 am to 4 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—the museum is open 10 am-5 pm. Admission is free for veterans and their families.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—museum open 9 am-5 pm.

Somerset Historical Center
Nov. 11: Veterans Day—museum open 9 am-5 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 10: Museum closed in observance of Veterans Day.
Nov. 11: Museum open 9 am-5 pm.—please also note that parking in downtown Harrisburg will be free on Nov. 11.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Nov. 10: Historic buildings and visitor center closed in observance of Veterans Day.
Nov. 11: Site open 10 am-4 pm—the park will offer free guided tours to all veterans and active-duty military personnel with military ID.

Five Reasons (at Least) to Join the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation

Be sure to check the November program page for details on events coming up this weekend. And don't forget to turn your clocks back an hour by 2 am on Sunday, Nov. 5, as we say goodbye to Daylight Saving Time for another year.

This week's post comes to us from the staff of the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation (PHF), which supports the work of PHMC.

The Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation and The State Museum of Pennsylvania are excited to offer a Buy One Get One Free membership offer! This is your opportunity to visit all the great Pennsylvania Trails of History sites you read about on Trailheads. Renew, rejoin, or join for the first time and gift a free membership (of equal or lesser value) to a friend, family member, or co-worker. You can also donate a subscription to a local middle or high school, public library, VA hospital, or nursing home. This is a limited time offer - good only until December 31, 2017!

Locations of  PHMC's Trails of History sites (key to map)
Membership grants you the following benefits:
  • General admission to all 23 Trails of History sites and museums for a full year, so you can take advantage of the exciting activities in all seasons (please note: many special events require an additional fee). This includes The State Museum of Pennsylvania, with access to the Planetarium and, for Family-level members, Curiosity Connection!
  • A full-year subscription to the award-winning Pennsylvania Heritage magazine (4 issues).
  • Membership in Time Travelers, a reciprocal membership program of over 300 nationally participating museums with a variety of benefits, including free or discounted museum admission, gift shop discounts, and many others.
  • A personalized membership card.
  • Special member events throughout the year.
To take advantage of this special offer by December 31, 2017:
  • Visit and join online.
  • OR
  • Call (717) 787-2407 and join over the telephone with friendly PHF staff.
  • OR
  • Visit The State Museum of Pennsylvania in person and join through the Museum Store.
More information is available on the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation website at or by calling the office at (717) 787-2407. Join over 2,500 members who know how exciting history is on the Pennsylvania Trails of History!