Changes are Coming

The July program page is up and running; it has info on virtual programs scheduled for this month. We'll try to keep it updated to reflect site reopening plans. You'll also find links to each site's Facebook page to check out online offerings. Trailheads Rec Room (to the right of your screen) has pages for various online offerings. New this week is the Collections Gallery, with Facebook posts related to objects, photos, and documents in our collections - there's also a link to PHMC's online collections portal.

Stone wall with garden bed in front filled with herbs
This herb garden at Conrad Weiser Homestead says "summer" to me (via Facebook)

So here's what I know. As of July 3, all Pennsylvania counties are in the "green zone." Lots of things are opening up, some are pausing, and some are closing again because COVID-19 hasn't released its grip. Our Trails of History sites are busily working on plans and guidelines and changes to keep everyone safe. UPDATE 7/7/20: reopening Trails of History sites has been delayed . We plan to start reopening sites the week of July 20; please stay tuned to PHMC's website and social media channels (such as Facebook). Individual site schedules will vary (many with reduced hours), so you'll need to be sure to check with your favorite site to see what's up.

Reddish-brown stone building to right, a walkway with wooden structure covering it is perpendicular. The sky is a vivid blue with puffy white clouds.
The Charcoal Barn (Visitor Center) and Connecting Shed at Cornwall Iron Furnace on a stunning summer day (via Facebook)

It's Fourth of July weekend, and we still need to be careful out there. Most (all?) big events and festivities are off the calendar. Despite the fact that Trails of History sites have not yet reopened, many have grounds that are open to the public during posted hours. We ask that you follow all posted guidelines and practice social distancing (from people you don't live with - or maybe from them too, amiright?). If you have a picnic or bring pets along, please bag your/their trash and take it with you. As long as everyone looks out for each other, our sites are great places to enjoy some relaxing time in the summer weather. (If you visit the grounds at Hope Lodge, they've made their cell phone tour available on their Facebook page, so you can still learn a little history while you're there.)

The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum had to cancel their popular Bark Peelers' Festival this year, but they've produced short videos with some of their usual demonstrators to bring some of the festival to you. Curious about how a shingle mill works? You can watch a demo from home. Stay tuned to the museum's video page on Facebook for more. (You might also enjoy this Trailheads post about the event in 2018, when the museum dedicated Bob and Dottie Webber's cabin.)

If fishing is your sport, Saturday is your lucky day. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has declared July 4 a "Fish-for-Free Day" on Pennsylvania waterways. No fishing license is required, but all other fishing regulations apply (visit the Fish and Boat website for details).

Some of you may be planning to watch the filmed production of Hamilton that is streaming on Disney+ as of July 3. I know I am. (If you enjoy a side order of commentary with your viewing, Historians at the Movies (follow #HATM) and the cast and crew of Hamilton (#Hamilfilm) are hosting a Twitter Watch Party starting at 7 pm EDT on July 3.) I wrote about my late-to-the-party encounter with the musical's cast album back in July of 2016. That post seems like a very long time ago, but I think it holds up.
"So, I spent the 4th of July listening to the album and totally get what the big deal is (my opinion, your mileage may vary). It was a fitting reminder of the heroic and yet complicated, messy, sometimes ugly, origins of our democracy and the importance of helping our visitors understand that life was not "simpler back then." And that we are all part of the continuum of history. "Hamilton," for all of its cultural phenomenon-ness, is also an object lesson: when history is presented as a compelling story, with an eye and ear to the intended audience, people respond. We can't create blockbuster musicals at our sites, but our staff and volunteers strive all the time to forge emotional and intellectual connections between the present and the past and to shed light on the human strengths and weaknesses we share with our collective ancestors. It's frustrating work sometimes (most of the time?), but it matters."

I hope you have a chance to spend time with family and friends in ways that keep you all healthy. I think all of us can take some time to reflect on our history and how it shapes our present. It's a moment and a movement for living up to what we can be. Together.


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