Honoring PHMC's Volunteers of the Year

Please see the April program page for events coming up this weekend and Monday. The May program listing is also available now as well.

Tomorrow, April 28, we will gather to honor volunteers for their service in 2017. The Volunteer of the Year Awards is a wonderful occasion to bring people together from all over the Pennsylvania Trails of History. We get to thank people in person (except for the few not able to join us for the day) for their efforts in support of our sites and museums. And we get to hear about the many skills and talents our volunteers share with the public, whether they work on the front lines or behind the scenes. It's a great way to wrap up National Volunteer Week and National Volunteer Month.

The honorees are pictured below, and there is a link for each so that you can read more about their volunteer activities. Please join me in congratulating them and thanking them for their support of PHMC's historic sites and museums.

Kathleen Donahue, Anthracite Heritage Museum & Scranton Iron Furnaces (citation)

George Tolton, Brandywine Battlefield Park (citation)

Maxine Ruble, Bushy Run Battlefield (citation)

Anne Killeen, Conrad Weiser Homestead (citation)

Jim Polczynski, Cornwall Iron Furnace (citation)

Lori Schaeffer, Daniel Boone Homestead (citation)

Betty Cosper, Drake Well Museum (citation)

Walter Gilbert, Eckley Miners' Village (citation)

Wayne Gongaware, Ephrata Cloister (citation)

Steve Dusza, Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara (citation)

Phyllis Visco, Graeme Park (citation)

Melanie Hay, Hope Lodge (citation)

Dee Casteel, Joseph Priestley House (citation)

Danielle Retallack, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (citation)

Steve Roberts, Old Economy Village (citation)

Nyla Houser, Pennsbury Manor (citation)

Kenton Greenman, PA Lumber Museum (citation)

Jim Carras, PA Military Museum (citation)

R. Neil Gruber, Railroad Museum of PA (citation)

Wayne Pyle, Somerset Historical Center (citation)

Steve Lantz, State Museum of PA (citation)

Outstanding Service Award, Andrea Bair, The State Museum of Pennsylvania (citation)

Outstanding Service Award, Robert Greenman, Pennsylvania Lumber Museum (citation)

Museum Week and Other Stuff

Please check the April program page for upcoming events. I've highlighted some below, but there's always more to know.


Next week (Monday, April 23, through Sunday, April 29) people who work in museums, people who visit museums, and people who like to read about museums will unite across the world during Museum Week 2018. (There's probably a not very complicated Venn diagram of that previous sentence, since people who work in museums generally fall into the other two categories as well.) This year's overall theme is "Living together, citizenship and tolerance."

The daily hashtags, starting with Monday, Apr. 23, are: #womenMW, #cityMW, #heritageMW, #professionsMW, #kidsMW, #natureMW, and #differenceMW (more info on each). Sites on the Trails of History generally post at least some days during Museum Week; @PHMC will be retweeting, as will I (@AmyKFox). Or follow your favorite museums on Twitter (if you don't already) to see what they're posting. You don't have to work in a museum (or be officially registered) to participate. Just have fun!

Tyler Gum, director of the PA Military Museum, welcomes guests to the PA Museums Awards Ceremony (photo courtesy @museumnotations via Twitter)
Museums from around the state met earlier this week in the State College area during the PA Museums annual conference. Sessions took place at the American Philatelic Society's facility in Bellefonte, with an opening reception held at the Centre Furnace Mansion in State College. The PHMC's Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg hosted the PA Museums Awards Ceremony, where 11 institutional and 2 individual awards were presented.

Crane moving Niagara’s mainmast into place.  Before work ended, the shrouds (hanging) needed to be secured to stabilize the mast. (Photo: Linda Bolla)
Frequent Trailheads guest blogger Linda Bolla, Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, provided photos and an interesting story from this year's uprig of the ship.
As a sailing ship is built, it is traditional to place a coin beneath her mast as it is stepped. This practice is said to have begun with ancient Romans so that, should the ship sink, sailors would have coin to pay Charon the ferryman to cross the River Styx into the afterlife. The tradition may have even older origins, however, as underwater archaeology has found non-Roman vessels to have coins beneath the mast. Today, we continue the tradition with the hope for good luck for this ship and her crew.

Coins placed beneath Niagara's mainmast 2018
Two coins were recovered and cleaned by Niagara’s Carpenter Adam Stanisz when the mainmast was removed late in 2017. A 1990 “Walking Liberty” silver dollar (upper left in above photo) was placed beneath the mainmast when this Niagara was first built. When the mainmast was removed and stepped again in 2000, a golden Sacagawea dollar from that year was added (lower left).

This year three new coins were added. Flagship Niagara League (FNL) Trustee and volunteer crew member Pat Federici donated a Sea Services Challenge Coin (lower middle in above photo) made especially for War of 1812 Bicentennial events at Detroit, MI in September 2012. This coin honors the services of the U. S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard. FNL Trustee Emeritus and long-time Erie Maritime Museum volunteer docent Ed Bolla offered an 1813 silver fifty cent coin (right). Finally, a stunning silver commemorative medal (upper middle) struck for the 2013 Bicentennial of the Battle of Lake was added. The medal was published by Dave Hayes and John Dean and designed and minted by Daniel Carr at Moonlight Mint in Colorado. On the obverse, Carr’s design features a bust of Oliver Hazard Perry, the International Peace Monument at Put-In-Bay, and flags of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, representing lasting peace. The reverse features U.S. Brig Niagara in action.
Five coins in place awaiting resetting of the ship's mainmast

Coming up this weekend

  • Anthracite Heritage Museum
    April 21: Landscape and Environment Month Lecture—Robert Hughes of the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR) will present "The Sustainability Factor of Coalfield Community Groups in both the Anthracite and Bituminous Regions of PA and EPCAMR's Role Throughout NE & NC PA" (more info here). Lecture is free. 2 pm.
  • Conrad Weiser Homestead
    April 22: Living History Sunday—enjoy an afternoon of living history; guided tours offered. Noon-4 pm.
  • Daniel Boone Homestead
    April 21: Sheep and Fiber Day—the Homestead sheep will be sheared and artisans will demonstrate various steps of the textile production process (more info on Facebook event page). Vendors will be on hand with items made from alpaca and sheep's wool. Food will be available for purchase throughout the day. Cost is $7 for ages 16 and up, $4 for ages 5-15, free for Friends members and children age 4 and under. 10 am-4 pm.
  • Ephrata Cloister
    April 22: Ephrata Cloister Chorus Spring Concert—the concert will be held at Church of the Apostles United Church of Christ in Lancaster (more info on the website). Included on the program is a composition from the 1740s, newly transcribed from a copy found in the Ephrata Cloister archives. 4 pm.
  • Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
    April 21: Spring Benefit Auctionsilent and live auctions, plus yummy food (see website for more details). Preview and silent auction begin at 4 pm, live auction begins at 6.
  • Pennsbury Manor
    April 22: Bitters, Blubs and Brewing—enjoy a private tour of the kitchen garden, focused on the medicinal role of plants in the 17th and 18th centuries. Then a mixologist will teach you how to make your own bitters to take home. Must be at least 21 to participate. Cost is $20, which includes all materials and grounds admission (info on registering).
  • Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
    April 21-22: Spring Antique and Collectible Show and Sawmill Run—vendors from all over the U.S. will be selling a variety of wares. The museum's sawmill will be in operation on Saturday, and the birch still will be demonstrated both days. Admission charged, includes access to museum exhibits. Food and drink will be available for purchase. 10 am-4 pm both days.
  • Somerset Historical Center
    April 21: Common Threads Symposium—this program is offered in conjunction with Laurel Arts and features Sally C. Fink, fabric artist and author, and Mike Taylor, spinning wheel collector and author. Fiber artists will display and/or sell their work throughout the visitor center exhibit. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door (more info on the Facebook event page). (In conjunction with the symposium, there will be a quilt sale/fundraiser to generate funds for quilters and the Somerset Historical Center; contact c-Kross@pa.gov for details and to register.) 9 am-4 pm.

Museums for All

Please visit the April program page for info on upcoming events. I've highlighted some below, but there's always more to learn.

Earlier this month, some of the sites on the Pennsylvania Trails of History joined a national program called "Museums for All." Coordinated by the Association of Children's Museums, with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Museums for All participating museums provide free or discounted admission to people who present an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and photo ID. Up to four people can be admitted per card. At participating Trails of History sites, the discounted price is $2 per person and is good for regular admission, not special events or programs. Card holders don't use their EBT card to pay the admission; they present it to show their eligibility for the Museums for All discount.

You'll find a list of PHMC's participating museums on our website. We decided for our initial participation to stick with sites that are connected to our Point-of-Sale admissions system. That will allow us to track Museums for All admissions more easily and to take care of quarterly reporting from our central office in Harrisburg (which also happens to be Trailheads HQ). Please share the information with folks you know who may want to make use of this new discount.

In PHMC's press release announcing our participation, Executive Director Andrea Lowery noted, “At PHMC, we believe a visit to a museum or historic site can inspire the development of new skills and interests, ignite creativity, and enrich social connections. By removing the financial barrier, Museums for All represents a long stride toward the goal of reaching more children and parents and inviting them to take advantage of the valuable learning resources of museums.”

Many people make use of discounts or reduced/free admission when they visit Trails of History sites, such as membership in the site Friends group or the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation or membership in AAA. Reduced admission fees are always in place for seniors and youth, while young children are admitted free of charge (age varies, but it's 3 and under at most sites). PHMC sites participate in the Blue Star Museums program, which provides free admission for active duty military members and their families between Memorial Day and Labor Day; we offer that year-round.

Admission is free to all on Charter Day, the second Sunday of March each year. Individual sites also have free days from time to time, often in cooperation with local organizations or special events. Sites and museums in Erie, Lancaster, and Potter Counties participate in museum pass programs to make free admission available through their local and regional library systems.

Courtesy PA Military Museum

This weekend

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
April 14: National Water Dance Ripple Effect—the event begins at Dobbins Landing, then dancers and friends from Mercyhurst University will lead the audience on a performance path to the Erie Maritime Museum, which will host research presentations, poetry, music, dance, children's crafts, and refreshments (more info). Admission is free. Begins at 4 pm at Dobbins Landing.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
April 14: Needle Felting—as of yesterday (4/12) there were still a few spots left, so call NOW if you're interested. Or see if there's room left in classes coming up the rest of the month (see the full list with registration info on Landis Valley's website).

Old Economy Village
April 14: Saturday Craft Programscheck the website for this week's program and others coming up.a variety of lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on learning will be presented. Costs and details vary, so check the website for more information.

Pennsbury Manor
April 15: Historic Trades and Open Hearth Cookingcheck the website for details. Included in regular admission. Programming runs 1-4 pm, site open noon-5 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
April 15: 3rd Sunday Series—two programs this month: "Trout Grow on Trees," with staff from the Potter County Conservation District discussing the impact of forest health on trout streams, and "International Dark Skies Week," with PA DCNR staff talking about Cherry Springs State Park and its remarkable dark skies educational programs (more info on both). Included in museum admission (free for members). Trout program starts at 1 pm, dark skies at around 3.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
April 14-15: The Great War Remembered—2018 marks the 100th anniversary of American combat troops fighting in France and the end of World War I. Today's program includes lectures, films, and a living history reenactment on the grounds (check the website for details and updates). 10 am-4 pm each day.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
April 13: Learn at Lunchtime—view the T.M. Fowler bird's eye view maps exhibit through the lens of historic preservation. Included in general admission. 12:15-12:45 pm.
April 14 and 15: Planetarium closedsee website for other schedule info.

5 Things to Keep Your Mind Off the Weather

Please be sure to check the April program page for upcoming events and programs.

So the winter/spring/winter/spring roller coaster continues. I don't know about you, but I'm done. Not going to talk about the weather anymore. Nope. Not me. Let's think about other stuff.

U.S. Brig Niagara captain Billy Sabatini throws a curling stone on the Erie Maritime Museum plaza as ship uprig continues (via Facebook)
1) Despite the weather (so I lied), work has commenced to get the U.S. Brig Niagara ready for the 2018 sailing season. Follow U.S. Brig Niagara on Facebook to see more photos (or this video).

2) This year marks the 50th anniversary of the production of The Molly Maguires (released in 1970), parts of which were filmed in a real anthracite patch town during the summer of 1968. The attention and local pride generated an effort to preserve the town, which became Eckley Miners' Village, part of the PHMC's Trails of History. Multiple events are planned to celebrate the occasion and raise funds to support the historic site's programming (check Eckley's Facebook page for more info). In addition, the Hazleton Standard-Speaker wants to hear from people who worked as extras on the film or otherwise have memories from the movie set (learn how to share your memories in this article).


3) The National Association for Interpretation (NAI), a professional organization focused on cultural and natural heritage interpreters, is launching a virtual race this summer to raise funds. Participants are encouraged to do a 5K, 10K, or Half Marathon anywhere they like (even a treadmill) any day in June. They're particularly suggesting that people go to their favorite park, hiking trail, or heritage site. I think it's a great way to enjoy the Trails of History. Learn more about how to sign up and get your race bib on NAI's event page. Then pick your favorite Trails of History site and plan your day - please let the site know (or leave a comment on this post) so we can join the fun.

4) John Fea, author, professor, and scheduled speaker for the upcoming PA Museums conference, shared an article recently on his blog, "The Way of Improvement Leads Home," that may be of interest. Sarah Anne Carter's article for the Los Angeles Review of Books, "Scooby Doo in the Museum," explores ways objects and material culture were presented in the popular cartoon series.

5) In honor of Opening Week of Major League Baseball (anyone else watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball in the snow Wednesday night?), the Library of Congress announced the online release of Branch Rickey's papers. As you know if you follow baseball history, Rickey's contributions to the sport include the development of the "farm system" and hiring Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Rickey papers include scouting reports for numerous players, such as Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Willie Mays.

On This Day in History - April 6
Innovation Edition

  • 1869 - 1st plastic, Celluloid, patented
  • 1889 - George Eastman begins selling his Kodak flexible rolled film for the first time
  • 1930 - Hostess Twinkies invented by bakery executive James Dewar
  • 1938 - Teflon invented by Roy J. Plunkett
  • 1954 - TV Dinner was 1st put on sale by Swanson & Sons
  • 1980 - Post It Notes introduced