A Busy Winter on the Trails of History

Please consult the February program page for upcoming events.

Regardless of what the various groundhogs saw earlier this morning (I schedule these posts ahead of time - I'll update when I can), we're approximately halfway through the winter. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Some sites on the PHMC's Trails of History are closed to the public over the winter and more of them reduce their hours. Often, winter (whether closed or not) is a great time to catch up on projects that go on the back burner during the busy summer season or that require more time and attention. That said, some sites ramp up their programming in the winter to provide visitors with alternatives to cabin fever. So here's a sampling of both. Enjoy.
Dave Smoyer whitewashing a fireplace in the Sisters' House, Ephrata Cloister (via Facebook)
At Ephrata Cloister, the site is open through the winter but it's a slower time. They recently posted a series of photos (including the one above) showing maintenance repairman Dave Smoyer doing repairs to whitewashed walls and fireplaces. According to the Facebook post, Dave has developed his whitewashing techniques through lots of practice: "White-Washing is a tricky process that has involved almost 14 years of trial and error. [Dave says] 'Put it on too thick and it flakes off. Too much water and it takes off the layer of clay beneath it. The trick is to put on a number of very light layers and eventually build it up.'" In addition to maintenance, Ephrata uses the bleak season for its popular Winter History Class, which features a wealth of speakers on a wide variety of topics (see details). And they're starting a new history discussion group, which debuts Feb. 7 (learn more on the Facebook event page). It may be slower, but it's not dull.

Curator Todd Galle cleaning collections at Pennsbury Manor (via Facebook)
Pennsbury Manor is closed to the public during January and February (some tours by appointment with one-week notice). Staff take the opportunity to do a thorough cleaning in the Manor House when they can dismantle the period room settings to get into every corner. They'll reopen to the public March 1.

Caulking the deck of the U.S. Brig Niagara, March 2017 (via Facebook)
Winter is also the time when the crew of the U.S. Brig Niagara perform annual maintenance on the ship. The ship is at its berth at the Erie Maritime Museum and is under winter cover. Maintenance work takes place on the ship itself and in the workshop on the museum's lower floor. The Erie Times-News ran an article on this year's maintenance earlier this week with lots of good info and photos.

Sledders take their turn down the hill at Pithole, 2014 (via Facebook)
Looking for outdoor winter fun? You can find it on the Trails of History. Lack of snow has (we hope temporarily) postponed the Sledding Party at Historic Pithole scheduled for tomorrow, Feb. 3, but be sure to check Drake Well Museum's Facebook page for updates. Next weekend, Feb. 9-11, the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum will host a Snow-mobility event where folks can snowmobile from Susquehannock State Forest to the museum. There will be other activities as well. And yes, the weather will determine a lot of that. Find out more on the Lumber Museum's Facebook page.

On this Day in History - February 2

Two things that make me hope for spring:
  • 1876 - baseball's National League was founded
  • 1887 - the first groundhog day celebration


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