Agriculture and Art!

Agriculture and Art!
Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual). I've included highlights below. The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen offer an array of online content generated by Trails of History sites. Also a quick reminder that PHMC sites participate in the Blue Star Museums and Museums for All programs.

6 people in blue jeans, workshirts and caps harvest and bundle flax plants. A pile of plants is in the foreground
Staff and volunteers at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum harvesting flax (photo Heirloom Seed Project)

My thanks for this week's opening photo go to Joanne Ranck-Dirks of the Heirloom Seed Project at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum. Joanne sent along a series of photos, along with an explanation of the effort:
The flax harvest is underway at Landis Valley. This historic crop is planted in early April and harvested in mid-July. After drying in our hoop house, the flax is retted in a tub of water and dried again. We use the flax in our textile barn to show how it is processed into linen fiber. We also sell the flax straw to other historic sites and individual spinners and weavers.

Man in jeans, green shirt and cap stacks bundles of flax upright to dry
Landis Valley's Farm and Garden Manager, Joe Schott, stacks flax bundles to begin drying 

I've saved some additional photos and info on a separate Landis Valley Flax Harvest page. Thanks, Joanne, and all the folks at Landis Valley for this update on your work.

Last weekend, Old Economy Village received a visit from the family of artist Richard Hay Kenah (1907-1982), who painted a mural of George Rapp and other members of the Harmony Society that now hangs in the Visitor Center. The mural, painted in 1934 on a canvas backing, was originally adhered to a wall at Ambridge High School and then painted over. It was later rediscovered by the Ambridge School District and donated to Old Economy. Following an extensive conservation effort that involved removing plaster and constructing a frame, the mural was installed in Old Economy's new Visitor Center when it opened in 2002. The site posted a photo of the artist's son Chris with the mural.


Upcoming Events (in-person and virtual)

Today, July 30
  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual), curator Katie McGowan will talk about a 1946 silk wedding dress made from a surplus WWII parachute, State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm (SMP web link for info and registration)
Sunday, August 1
  • Garden Party and Oxygen Day (in-person), spend some time in the gardens (11 am-12:30 pm) and learn about Dr. Priestley's discovery of oxygen (1-4 pm), Joseph Priestley House (JPH Facebook page for details)
  • Living History Sunday, guided tours will be offered, Conrad Weiser Homestead, noon-4 pm (CWH website)
Wednesday, August 4
  • Explore! (in-person), kids in grades 3-5 are invited to learn about Pennsylvania Turtles, State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in general admission - sign up at Ground Floor Information Desk (Explore! info)
Thursday, August 5
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person), help kids K-Grade 2 discover what natural resources are, State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in general admission - sign up at Ground Floor Information Desk (Curiosity Kids info)

Change is Constant

Well, I Tried
Bright green and black caterpillar shown among green leaves with a glimpse of a brick building in the background
This swallowtail caterpillar is munching on lovage in Pennsbury Manor's garden. What critters is your garden feeding this weekend? (Photo via Pennsbury Facebook page)

So what happened was...Although staff at our Trails of History sites have been at work in person for a while - some were on-site throughout the pandemic, others returned in April - it's my first week back in the office since March 2020. I'd been trying to anticipate what it would be like, but I failed to account for all the little pieces that went with teleworking for over a year. Things kind of got away from me, and I hit some technical glitches in readjusting. So this week's post is very brief (thank you for pretending to notice the difference).

Please check out the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual).

However you're planning to spend your weekend, I hope you have a chance to rest and recharge. The gardens and grounds, not to mention the fascinating stories, on the Trails of History can offer the perfect spot to notice the changes that are all around us.

A Little of This, A Little of That

A Little of This, A Little of That
Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual). I've included highlights below. The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen offer an array of online content generated by Trails of History sites.

Text for event graphic reads What's in a theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase
Join us July 20 at 7 pm EDT for the next Virtual Collections Showcase (registration link)

What are summer Fridays for if not for some random fun? I'm here to share some items than showed up in my timeline over the past week. You never know what you'll find on the Trails of History.

The folks at Ephrata Cloister took part in last Friday's #CuratorBattle that featured museum objects that look like celebrities. Who wore it better?


The Erie Maritime Museum has quite a few ship models, but here's one that allows a view below decks to the crew quarters and galley.



Cornwall Iron Furnace was recently visited by a group of Studebaker enthusiasts. The site is a popular destination for car clubs since it's close to Hershey and the Antique Automobile Museum.



I've really been loving Pennsbury Manor's garden posts this summer. It's not quite like being there, but it's not bad.



The Lumber Heritage Region of PA shared the PA Lumber Museum's photo scavenger hunt this week. All of the items on the hunt can be found even when the buildings and exhibits are closed or by remembering a visit or even checking out their Facebook timeline (download the scavenger hunt). Of course, you can also visit when they're open!




Upcoming Events (in-person and virtual)

Today, July 16
  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual), program director Bradley Smith will share new research on several prominent artifact legends in the collection, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm (link for Zoom registration)
Saturday, July 17
  • StoryTime (in-person), read "Big Bad Bubble" by Adam Rubin with illustrations by Daniel Solirieri and blow some bubbles, The State Museum of PA, 10:30-11:30 am, included in regular admission (sign up at ground floor info desk)
  • Agent Orange & Napalm (virtual), Ronald Lenox will present a program on Vietnam War chemical warfare, PA Military Museum, 2-3 pm (PMM link for registration)
Tuesday, July 20
  • What's in a theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase (virtual), this month's theme is Travel & Destinations, 7-8 pm (Facebook link for registration)
Wednesday, July 21
  • Explore! (in-person), visit Nature Lab to learn about butterflies and moths of PA, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in regular admission (Explore! info)
Thursday, July 22
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person), learn about living and non-living things, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in regular admission (Curiosity Kids info)

Works in Progress

Works in Progress
Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual). I've included highlights below. The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen offer an array of online content generated by Trails of History sites.

Civil War era cannon on carriage with two large wheels sits on a concrete pad in the middle of a grassy parking lot median
Front view of restored artillery carriage and reproduction tube (photo courtesy PA Military Museum)

The Pennsylvania Military Museum has been working on a multi-year project to complete the restoration of several Civil War-era artillery pieces. These are reproductions manufactured after the war, under contract to the War Department, to be used for military history education. In its collection, the museum has an artillery carriage, limber, and caisson. As site administrator Tyler Gum explains, "Between 1895 and 1913, a Civil War veteran, Calvin Gilbert, who served in the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry, manufactured several hundred of these artillery pieces at his metal foundry in Gettysburg, PA. The surviving artillery pieces are referred to as 'Gilberts,' which is what we have in our collection."

Last Friday, the restored carriage was returned to the site, along with a brand new cannon tube. The Friends of the Pennsylvania Military Museum raised the funds to support the manufacturing of a 6 lb. tube. The new cannon is non-firing. In coming weeks, Tyler reports, the restored limber and caisson will complete the project. Exhibited outdoors with artillery pieces from different eras, this Civil War-era cannon will be used to teach about the evolution of artillery from muzzle loading to breach loading, along with the associated math knowledge needed to aim and fire.

Artillery carriage sitting on the back of a flatbed trailer, ready to be placed on its new concrete pad in the parking lot median
Taking delivery of the restored carriage (photo courtesy PA Military Museum)

Throughout the pandemic, and even now that the site has reopened to the public, Old Economy Village has undergone a major restoration and construction project that has added new pathways, ramps, and new roofs to buildings in the historic area. Staff have done a wonderful job of documenting the project with photos and sharing them on Facebook. This past week, they updated the progress on window repair and replacement in the Feast Hall, used by the Harmony Society as a museum and as a gathering place for music performances and communal meals. It looks a little scary with boarded-up spaces right now, but it will have many healthy years ahead when its windows are back in shape.

Large 3-story brick building set next to a cobblestone street and white picket fence. Some windows are boarded up due to a restoration project.
Work continues to replace windows in the Feast Hall at Old Economy Village (photo via Facebook)

Upcoming Events (in-person and virtual)

Today, July 9
  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual), PA Fish and Boat Commission biologist Geoffrey Smith will talk about fish that live in the Susquehanna River, 12:15-12:45 pm, The State Museum of PA (SMP link for registration)
Saturday, July 10
  • Virtual Tour of M1917 Tractor (Tank), Mike Siggins and Tyler Gum will be your guides, 2-4 pm, PA Military Museum (PMM Facebook to register)
Sunday, July 11
  • Living History Sunday (in-person), Darius Puff will share knowledge of Native American culture and Greg Geiger will demonstrate 18th-century shoemaking, Noon-4 pm, Conrad Weiser Homestead (CWH Facebook page for details)
  • Tonight's Sky: Live Chat with the Planetarium Director (virtual), Linda Powell will help you discover what you can see for yourself in the night sky, 2-3 pm, The State Museum of PA (registration info on SMP website)
Tuesday, July 13
  • Education in Lebanon County - 1700s to Present (virtual), Jared Blouch and Michael Blouch will share their research on the transition from one-room schoolhouses to today's education landscape, 7-8 pm, Cornwall Iron Furnace (CIF Facebook page to register)
Wednesday, July 14
  • Explore! (in-person), kids in grades 3-5 are invited to Nature Lab to learn about identifying organisms, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in regular admission, The State Museum of PA (link for Explore! details)
  • Pittsburgh's Last Outpost: Captain Trent's Fort (virtual), Jason Cherry will talk about the strategic significance of the Forks of the Ohio, 7-8 pm, $7.50 per ticket, Bushy Run Battlefield (Eventbrite link for tickets)
Thursday, July 15
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person), kids in grades K-2 can learn about the Great-horned Owl, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in regular admission, The State Museum of PA (Curiosity Kids link for details)
  • PA History: Read It, See It (virtual), enjoy a virtual tour of Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum as part of this new series hosted by the Pennsylvania State Library, noon-1 pm (Zoom registration link)

People are Talking

If you're planning to be out and about on the Pennsylvania Trails of History this weekend, please note that some sites will be open on Sunday, July 4, and others will not. Some sites will be expanding their schedules soon, after our initial reopening period, so it's best (it's always best) to check ahead before visiting. You'll want to make sure that the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there.

Please also note that Covid protocols have been lifted. Masks are no longer required at our sites, but visitors who prefer to wear them should feel free to do so.

Zoom screen with images of seven presenters
Presenters (and one lurker) for the June 16, 2021, PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase (see below for link to video)

This week I bring you a series of quick hits that you may have missed. I hope you'll enjoy them. I wish you a great weekend. Stay safe, stay cool, and stay interested in history!

Old Economy Village created a short video to spur interest using a series of keywords related to their history.




Eckley Miners' Village and the Anthracite Heritage Museum (as well as the Museum of Anthracite Mining that is now run by the borough of Ashland) were mentioned not only in the "Office Ladies" podcast but also in Rolling Stone Magazine. In the podcast, hosts Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (Pam Beesley and Angela Martin from The Office) talk about an episode in which Angela and Dwight visit a fictional version of the Anthracite Heritage Museum. Kinsey did some online research and notes that there's a real museum (which appeared in a couple of other episodes of The Office). The Rolling Stone mention relates to a music release from country singer Don DiLego, "Dim Red Light," and its video filmed at Eckley Miners' Village.

Ephrata Cloister's curator, Kerry Mohn, and museum educator, Michael Showalter, appeared on the Cloister Talk Live! podcast a few weeks ago to talk with host Alexander Lawrence Ames about architecture, spirtual and mystical exploration, music, and the manuscript texts that helped inform Ames's book, "The Word in the Wilderness."

If you missed the most recent episode of the PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase, you can catch it on YouTube. It starts a little abruptly because I forgot to hit "record," but you'll be able to enjoy all the presentations (with edited captions).

Upcoming Events (in-person and virtual)

Today, July 2
  • StoryTime (in-person), "Big Bad Bubble" by Adam Rubin with illustrations by Daniel Solirieri, The State Museum of PA, 10:30-11:30 am, included in general admission (StoryTime details)
  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual), curators Amy Hammond and Katie McGowan explore dress in post-Revolution PA through portraits and historic clothing, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 (register to receive Zoom link)
  • First Friday Food Fest (in-person), great local fare from food trucks and live music, Somerset Historical Center, 5:30-8:30 pm, parking is $5 (SHC Facebook for details)
Wednesday, July 7
  • Explore! (in-person), visit Nature Lab to learn about native flowers and plants of PA, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in general admission (Explore! details)
Thursday, July 8
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person), today's focus in Benjamin Franklin's inventions, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in general admission (Curiosity Kids details)
  • Ephrata Academy (virtual), learn about the people who lived and worked at Pennsbury Manor, Historic Ephrata Cloister, 7-8 pm (Ephrata Facebook page for registration)

History in Many Forms

History in Many Forms Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (still mostly virtual). The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen offer an array of online content generated by Trails of History sites.

Purple milk thistle flower with spiky leaves against a background of green
Milk thistle from Pennsbury Manor's garden posted for National Pollinator Week (photo via Pennsbury Facebook page)

History is all around us. People talk about it all the time, sometimes heatedly. It shapes who we are today, as individuals and as a society. And there are lots of ways to learn and encounter new information, no matter your age. A number of items came across my screen recently that I'd like to share for those of you out there who may want to engage with the past.

Obviously, an in-person visit to one of our Trails of History sites is a great way to explore (find the list of all on PHMC's website). And sure, other museums besides PHMC's can be a good thing too (PA Museums has a good online directory). But as we've learned over the past year, virtual history offerings can expand your access to stories and places that you can't visit in person.

Starting in December 2020, PHMC's Virtual Collections Showcase has brought a monthly exploration of a central theme through objects and images from a selection of Trails of History sites. I'm always impressed with the variety of stories site staff convey through these objects and fascinated by their different interpretations of each theme. If you're curious about the breadth and depth of PHMC's collections and the expertise of our staff, the showcase programs, I highly recommend the showcase programs. Our next event is July 20 at 7 pm with a theme of travel and destinations (watch this space for the Zoom link when it's available). We record each program, so you can check out the Collections Showcase playlist (with edited captions) on PHMC's YouTube channel.

Graphic of a steam locomotive with silhouettes of children on either side. Text reads "Barons and Builders Summer Day Camp"
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has two virtual day camps coming up in July and August designed for children ages 9 to 12. Campers will experience virtual tours of historic railroad equipment, participate in activities with instructors online and at home, engage in live discussions and interactions with railroad professionals, and collaborate with each other to solve challenges. Each camp will have three one-hour sessions, scheduled for Tuesday mornings at 10 am. The cost is $75 per camper; sessions will be offered via Zoom with activity kits sent to each camper's address. "Barons and Builders" camp will take place July 13, 20, and 27 (Barons & Builders registration link) and "Behind the Scenes of Railroading" camp is set for August 3, 10, and 17 (Behind the Scenes registration link).

I missed the first week of this, but there's still time to sign your family up for Bushy Run Battlefield's Summer History Club. Club participants will pick up a themed activity box at the site to enjoy at home and will receive a link for a YouTube video centered around that week's theme and activities. Upcoming dates are July 10, July 24, and August 7. The cost is $5 per session; pre-registration and payment are required. For more information and a registration form, visit Bushy Run's Summer History Club page.

When the Pennsylvania Military Museum updated the website this spring, they archived their blog posts and organized them according to topic. You can access posts by conflict/time period, as well as themes of arms and weaponry, Medal of Honor, innovation and interest, leadership and strategy, and women's history. The posts cover a wide range of stories, and many focus on artifacts in the museum's collection. You'll find the blog archive on PMM's website.

1890s photo taken in a PA logging camp, men in suspenders seated and standing, there are two women standing on the left side of the group, one man in front row is African American
Photo of unidentified lumber camp, possibly near Corbett, Potter County, PA, 1890s (photo from PA Lumber Museum collection, LM2019.4.1)

The Lumber Heritage Region of Pennsylvania (LHR) recently released a draft report on research into diversity in the lumber industry, forestry, and communities in the region. PHMC's Pennsylvania Lumber Museum is an important venue in the region for sharing history and culture with visitors and residents. Research focused particularly on uncovering documentation of the roles and work of women and people of color. I'm still working through the report and am finding it quite interesting. It's available on LHR's website.

Next month, the State Library of Pennsylvania will launch a new lunchtime program series in collaboration with PHMC. Each "PA History: Read It, See It" program will feature a virtual visit to a Trails of History site along with suggestions for related books available from public libraries and/or examples of rare and historic books from the vaults of the State Library's Rare Collections Library. Sessions will be offered free of charge via Zoom on the third Thursday of each month from noon to 1 pm. First up is Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum on Thursday, July 15, at noon (State Library link to register).

Ready for Summer

A Slow Walk on the Wild Side Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (still mostly virtual). The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen have other online offerings that you may find interesting.
A gravel path cuts through green grass and crosses a small wooden bridge. A two-story wooden building is in the background, surrounded by trees.
The Weaver's House (left) and God's Acre (cemetery at right) at Ephrata Cloister (photo via EC Facebook page)


The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) recently announced the recipients of this year's Leadership in History Awards. Ephrata Cloister was one of 38 history organizations from across the U.S. honored for their work in 2020. Last fall, in the face of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, Ephrata reimagined their long-standing holiday programs--some of them offered for more than 40 years--and recreated them for online audiences. The result was three virtual programs: "Candlelight Chat," a Facebook Live first person conversation with Ephrata Householder Michael Miller (you can watch it on YouTube); a 40-minute version of "Christmas at the Cloister" with photo collage of the Cloister and previously recorded music by the Ephrata Cloister Chorus, presented via Zoom and YouTube; and "Witness to History," a 40-minute film featuring Ephrata's Student Historians telling the story of Ephrata Cloister's role as a hospital in 1777-78, also shown via Zoom and YouTube. I'll also note that Ephrata has also offered numerous lectures as part of the Ephrata Virtual Academy series and adapted their popular Winter History Class to the Zoom platform. Congratulations to all involved on this well-deserved award.

Juneteenth

Tomorrow, June 19, is Juneteenth, marking the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, TX, learned that they were, in fact, free (information that had been kept from them by slaveholders). First celebrated the following year in Texas, Juneteenth has become a much more widespread holiday. It was declared a state holiday in Pennsylvania in 2019, and as I write this, President Biden is signing legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Many communities around the state will be celebrating Juneteenth tomorrow and organizations will be offering educational programs that help to put Juneteenth, slavery, and the ongoing struggle for racial equity into historical context. Here are some online resources you may find useful:

Weekly Wildlife Report

Doe and fawn stand on grassy area. A pickup truck, parking lot, and stairs are in the background.
The lawn mower barely distracted this duo enjoying the grass at Brandywine Battlefield Park (photo by Ken Levin)






A Slow Walk on the Wild Side

A Slow Walk on the Wild Side Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (still mostly virtual). The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen have other online offerings that you may find interesting.

Box turtle in the grass with parts of brown Gothic-style stone building in the background
Box turtle on the grounds of Cornwall Iron Furnace (photo via CIF Facebook)
Close-up of box turtle in the grass with clover and yellow flowers
Close-up of different (I think) box turtle at Pennsbury Manor (photo via PM Facebook)
 





































Today's post is inspired by the box turtle posts I saw from two different Trails of History sites and by the continuing string of lovely photos that other sites have shared. I haven't visited any of our sites in person in more than a year, so the virtual beauty is very important. I hope you'll enjoy it too. Of course, you can also visit in person this weekend (and I'm planning to do so soon). Please be sure to check site schedules on websites or social media to be sure that they'll be open when you plan to visit (always my advice, even pre-Covid).

Old Economy Village's gardens are bursting with color, with flowers and herbs spread throughout the site.


Drake Well Museum and Park's #WildlifeWednesday post this week featured a Swallowtail butterfly that stopped by for a visit. (Learn more about butterflies today with The State Museum of PA - see listing below.)


For #ThrowbackThursday, Cornwall Iron Furnace shared a lovely ca. 1900 view of agricultural workers harvesting grain on one of the surrounding farms.



Upcoming Events

Program graphic for What's in a Theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase - historic images of mine disasters and photo of gunpowder box
Today, June 11
  • Learn at Lunchtime (online), Betsy Leppo will talk about native PA butterflies and moths, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm (SMP Zoom link to register)
Wednesday, June 16
  • What's in a Theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase (online), this month's theme is Infamous People and Events, 7-8 pm (Facebook link to register)
  • History Speaks series (online), "The Paxton Boys and Conestoga Massacre," Bushy Run Battlefield, tickets are $7.50, 7-8 pm (Eventbrite link to register)
Friday, June 18
  • Learn at Lunchtime, learn about Harrisburg's November 1865 Grand Review honoring African American Civil War veterans, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 (registration link)
  • Father's Day Weekend (onsite), free admission for dads 6/18-20, Bushy Run Battlefield (see BRB Facebook for details)

Enjoy Your Weekend

A relaxing setting at Drake Well Museum and Park with creek to the left, green grass, and trees on a sunny day
This is what puts the "park" in Drake Well Museum and Park (photo via DW Facebook page)

Taking a quick break from posting this week. If you're planning to visit the Trails of History, please check with your destination (via website or social media) to confirm hours of operation and other info. Information on safety protocols can be found on PHMC's Welcome Back page.

The PHMC Events Calendar has listings for upcoming events, still mostly online.

The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen have a bunch of online offerings for you to explore.

I hope your weekend brings whatever you need it to bring - rest or activity, quiet or hubbub (hubbub?) - and I'll see you back here next Friday.

History: It's What We Do

History: It's What We Do Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (still mostly virtual). The Trailheads Rec Room pages to the right of your screen have other online offerings that you may find interesting.

Monday, May 31, is Memorial Day. With current operating schedules, most Trails of History sites will be closed on Monday - but most are open this weekend, so please check the schedule of your favorite site.

The Pennsylvania Military Museum will be open from 10 am to 3 pm Friday through Monday - you can learn more about Pennsylvanians' military service while honoring those who did not return home from war. The monuments and memorials on the grounds are always a stark reminder of what it means to send troops into the fight.

Pennsbury Manor will be open for grounds-only visits on Memorial Day.

History Behind the Scenes

Yesterday, May 27, marked the 60th anniversary of Ephrata Cloister as a state property. As curator Kerry Mohn explains in the Facebook post below, "[I]n a brief ceremony in the Governor’s private office in the State Capitol, the deed for the grounds and buildings of the Ephrata Cloister was handed to Governor Arthur H. James, who in turn handed to the “heirs” of the Ephrata German Seventh Day Baptist Church a check for $15,000.00. The purchase also included artifacts."


Cornwall Iron Furnace recently shared an image of a map that has been a great tool for learning about the furnace complex and its environs. Reading this map and comparing to what's left to us today helps to document change over time. The community of iron furnace sites is a big one - this past weekend Cornwall staff participated in the 2021 Virtual Maryland Iron Festival, organized by Catoctin Furnace Historical Society (you can check it out on YouTube).


As you can see in this post from Old Economy Village, collections care involves many tasks, such as cleaning and inventory. Staff always try to be efficient by taking care of as many tasks as possible each time they touch an artifact. The work never ends.

Get on Out There

Get on Out There
Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're looking for virtual programs. I've highlighted events below, but there's more to see in the weeks ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings. Enjoy!

Blue sky, green grass, and a variety of trees with dark brown wooden buildings including derrick house for oil well
Spring has sprung at Drake Well Museum (photo via DWM Facebook)

The Pennsylvania Trails of History are beautiful this time of year (and any time of year). I'm seeing lots of enticing photos. If you're ready, I hope you get a chance to visit your favorite PHMC site soon. Always be sure to check the webiste or social media for your destination, since schedules vary. If you're not ready to visit in person, virtual programs are still on the calendar (see below) and we are happy to welcome you online. If you missed the most recent PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase, you can find a recording on the Pennsylvania Military Museum Facebook page (PMM video link).

Green bush with small white flowers with a stone building behind it
A study in contrasts at Ephrata Cloister (photo via EC Facebook page)
 
International Museum Day was on Tuesday - I like to think that every day is Museum Day. I assume that Trailheads readers are museum fans, but if you (or someone you know) needs reminding, here's a link to 10 Reasons to Visit a Museum by museum data researcher Colleen Dilenschneider.


Upcoming Virtual Events

Today, May 21
  • Learn at Lunchtime, Dr. Cynthia Little will talk about the "Game Changers" women's history exhibit, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm (SMP link to register)
Saturday, May 22
  • The USS Pennsylvania, history of the famous battleship including service in WWII, Pennsylvania Military Museum, 2-3 pm (PMM Facebook event to register)
Tuesday, May 25
  • A Brief Intro to Wooden Shipbuilding (Part 4 of 4), Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, 6-7 pm (EMM Facebook event to register)
Wednesday, May 26
  • Gravestone Cleaning & Preservation Workshop, Drake Well Museum & Park, 7-8 pm (DWM Facebook event to register)
  • Stroll Along the 1915 Street Scene, a narrated virtual tour of the golden age of railroading, Railroad Museum of PA, 7-8 pm (tickets by donation, use the Eventbrite link)

Signs of Life

This and That
Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're looking for virtual programs. I've highlighted events below, but there's more to see in the weeks ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings. Enjoy!

Green lawn, blue sky, and a pair of two-story brick buildings. There are trees and two bright red azalea bushes.
A beautiful day at Old Economy Village (photo via OEV Facebook page)

I hope you're enjoying the beautiful spring weather. I'm always afraid that summer heat is just around the corner, because I love moderate temps. But life is short, so I'm trying to just embrace it while it lasts. I'm always happy to see photos (like the ones above and below) from our Trails of History sites.

Mostly green leaves with a few white lily of the valley blooms
Lilies of the Valley at Ephrata Cloister (photo via EC Facebook page)

Life on the Trails of History is forever changed by the past year. As I've tried to chronicle in this blog, staff and volunteers moved quickly to respond to the closures brought by Covid-19 back in March 2020. Maintenance staff kept up with seasonal work through the summer and winter to make sure that buildings and grounds would be in good shape for reopening. Administrative staff adjusted to telework and online meetings (oh, so many Zoom and Skype and Teams meetings, but they helped us stay in touch). Staff and volunteers created a wide array of virtual programs over the past year, and those will remain an option as staff time permits, even as we reopen to the public.

If you're visiting our sites, please be aware that CDC and PA Dept. of Health guidance is changing rapidly. Our primary goal at all times is the safety and health of our staff, volunteers, and visitors. Your patience and support and, in my opinion, your vaccination will help us all get through this transition smoothly. (If you're still looking for a vaccine appointment, visit Vaccines.gov.)

Speaking of vaccinations, members of the 28th Division medical and transportation team recently paid a visit to the Pennsylvania Military Museum. They were assisting with a mass vaccination site on the Penn State University campus and used some downtime for a tour with museum staff. They enjoyed it so much they recommended it to PA Emergency Management Agency staff, who will be stopping by next week when they take some time off from the clinic.

Military Unit Visit During COVID Ops On the 6th of May, members of the 28th Division medical and transportation team...

Posted by Pennsylvania Military Museum on Friday, May 7, 2021


Cornwall Iron Furnace posted an interesting image this week, evidence of the people who worked in the casting room of the furnace. You can also catch a recording of the latest Cornwall lecture, "Gold in Them Hills," by geologist Mike Weber.

Cornwall Iron Furnace operated 24 hours a day 7 days a week for much of the year. All of that foot traffic on the charging room floor wore away the softer wood and left the harder knots.

Posted by Cornwall Iron Furnace on Saturday, May 8, 2021


Have you met Tansy, Eleanor, and Peppercorn? Be sure to say hello to these lovely sheep if you're visiting Pennsbury Manor. EDIT 5/14/21: I've replaced the post I initially shared below with one from today showing before and after shearing.


Folks at Graeme Park noticed a familiar face on the set of the new TV show "Rutherford Falls." Among the many treasures in the Rutherford Falls Museum, right next to the diorama of the early town, is an 18th-century portrait of a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson. I don't usually make viewing recommendations that aren't for things on the Trails of History, but if you're interested in history, museums, heritage and memory, Native American heritage, small town life (and many other topics) and don't mind some profanity, you might want to check it out (see a clip on YouTube).

Anyone recognize the lady in the portrait to the right of Ed Helms on the set of Rutherford Falls on Peacock TV? Hmmmm, she looks a bit familiar! Thanks to the Brunners for letting us know about this!

Posted by Graeme Park on Friday, May 7, 2021


Upcoming Virtual Events

Today, May 14
  • Learn at Lunchtime, botanist Andrew Rohrbaugh will talk about native plants in your landscape plans, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm (SMP link to register)
Tuesday, May 18
  • A Brief Intro to Wooden Shipbuilding (Part 3 of 4), Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, 6-7 pm (EMM Facebook event to register)
  • Preserving the Kaufman Farm: 250 Years of PA German Agriculture, with speaker Jim Lewars, former site administrator at Landis Valley, Daniel Boone Homestead, and Conrad Weiser Homestead, presented by Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, 7-8 pm (5/18 Zoom link to register)
Wednesday, May 19
  • History Speaks Series, "The Braddock and Forbes Campaigns to Take Fort Duquesne," Bushy Run Battlefield, 7-8:30 pm (link for tickets, $7.50 for nonmembers)
  • Amtrak: The 50th Anniversary, a virtual tour about the life, death, and rebirth of the American passenger train, Railroad Museum of PA, 7-8 pm (tickets by donation)
Thursday, May 20
  • The Heirloom Seed Project: Preserving Our Agriculture Heritage, with speaker Joanne Ranck-Dirks, director of the Heirloom Seed Project, presented by Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, 7-8 pm (5/20 Zoom link to register)

A Round of Applause

A Round of Applause
Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're looking for virtual programs. I've highlighted events below, but there's more to see in the weeks ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings. Enjoy!

The hood of an Army jeep, painted olive green with a white star. A small yellow rubber duck is on the hood, wearing military style uniform and cap.
You never know who will greet you when you visit the PA Military Museum (photo via Facebook)

By all accounts (that I've heard, anyway) our reopening weekend went smoothly. Shout out to all Trails of History staff and volunteers who spent the past year maintaining our sites physically, keeping sites and PA History in front of the public virtually, and supporting each other through it all. Throughout the day on Friday, emails went back and forth among staff to report on how things were going, and I had the privilege of being a fly on the wall, so to speak. The team spirit was heart-warming.

Child's drawing of a steam locomotive on tracks. Text reads "Thank you for reopening the train museum"
Image via Railroad Museum of PA Facebook page

Thanks are also due to the visitors who made this weekend a success by showing up and by helping staff and volunteers follow the safety protocols. If you're planning a visit this weekend, or in the near future, please be sure to check ahead on site schedules (I've rounded up some of the info a "reopening page", but it's still best to check with specific sites). You can find the details on safety protocols on PHMC's Welcome Back! page.

More Things to Celebrate

Melissa Mann, site administrator at Drake Well Museum & Park, was recently nominated as a Venango County Community Hero for her leadership at the site. Congratulations to Melissa and everyone at Drake Well.

Congratulations to our Site Administrator Melissa Mann for being nominated as a Venango County Community Hero! To see...

Posted by Drake Well Museum and Park on Saturday, May 1, 2021



Trib Live's Neighbor Spotlight for May features Bonnie Ramus, president of the Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society (BRBHS). BRBHS is the "friends" group at Bushy Run, responsible for most of the day-to-day management and programming at Bushy Run, while PHMC maintenance staff oversee the physical needs of the site. When Covid-19 closed the Trails of History sites, BRBHS adapted some of their in-person programs to virtual to keep history on the front burner. Congratulations to Bonnie for this recognition.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is looking for community success stories during National Historic Preservation Month. Stories can be submitted through SHPO's PA-SHARE site, but you don't need a PA-SHARE account to submit. The official press release has the details or check out the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation blog.

Finally, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara celebrated Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be With You) with a little twist on Oliver Hazard Perry's famous report, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop."

"We have met the enemy, two Imperial-II Star Destroyers, two Vindicator-Class Heavy Cruisers, one TIE Bomber, and one...

Posted by Erie Maritime Museum on Tuesday, May 4, 2021



Event graphic with photos of three museum objects. Text reads "What's in a theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase"

Upcoming Virtual Events

Today, May 7
  • Learn at Lunchtime, Heather Hendry, senior paper conservator at Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, will talk with the museum's fine arts curator, Amy Hammond, about the preservation of Violet Oakley's drawings, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm (Zoom link to register)
Saturday, May 8
  • Spring Nature Walk, Bushy Run Battlefield, 10 am-noon, $5 for non-members (BRB Facebook event to register)
  • The "Daring" Lieutenant: William B. Cushing, part of the Civil War Navies series, Erie Maritime Museum and PA Military Museum, 2-3 pm (EMM Facebook event to register)
Sunday, May 9
  • Tonight's Sky, a live chat with The State Museum of PA's planetarium director, 2-3 pm (SMP Facebook event to register)
Monday, May 10
  • Origin of the Apple & Its Early History in North American, presented by Susan Dolan, apple expert and Cultural Landscapes Program Manager for the National Park Service, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, 7-8 pm (LVM Zoom link to register)
Tuesday, May 11
  • A Brief Intro to Wooden Shipbuilding (Part 2 of 4), Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, 6-7 pm (EMM Facebook event Part 2 to register)
  • Gold in Them Hills, geologist Mike Weber will talk about gold mined in the hills around Cornwall, PA, Cornwall Iron Furnace, 7-8 pm (CIF Facebook event to register)
  • What's in a Theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase, tonight's theme is Souvenirs & Swag, 7-8 pm (Facebook event to register)
Wednesday, May 12
  • Story Reading, visitor services associate Chris O'Brien will read Mr. Owliver's Magic at the Museum, by Carolyn Bracken, Railroad Museum of PA, 10-10:30 am (watch on RMP's YouTube channel)
  • Historical and Archival Records Care Grant program webinar, an overview of eligibility, guidelines, tips for a competitive proposal and Q&A, Pennsylvania State Archives, 10 am (Archives Zoom link to register, webinar will be repeated on June 29 at 10 am)
  • Remake Learning Days Across America, learn about maple sugaring in southwestern PA, Somerset Historical Center, 6-7:30 pm (SHC Facebook event to register)
Thursday, May 13
  • Agriculture and Horticulture in PA German Spiritual Communities, staff from Ephrata Cloister and Old Economy Village will discuss unique facets of their historical communities, hosted by Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, 7-8 pm (LVM Facebook event to register)
  • Thrown, Fired, and Glazed: The Redware Tradition from Pennsylvania and Beyond, curator Jennifer Royer will provide a virtual tour of Landis Valley's award-winning exhibit, hosted by Ephrata Cloister, 7-8 pm (EC Facebook event to register)

Welcome Back!

Welcome Back!
Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're looking for virtual programs. I've highlighted events below, but there's more to see in the weeks ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings. Enjoy!

Light blue background with a dark blue circle. In the circle is an outline of a house in white and a white curving line that forms a heart in the middle of the house. Text reads "Welcome Back!"

Today's the day! Trails of History sites are officially reopening to the public and ready to welcome visitors. I've gathered some of the reopening posts on a separate page for general info. As we've noted before in this blog, most sites will be on reduced schedules (fewer days and/or shorter hours). You'll also want to know if you need to make an appointment for a tour or if there's a set schedule. In short, please take a look at the website of any Trails of History site you want to visit to get all the details (Trails of History page has links to all).

PHMC's requirements for safety measures can be found on the Welcome Back! page. We want to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy. Our staff and volunteers will do their part and we ask visitors to do theirs. Together we can get through this initial reopening phase and begin to get back to normal operations and programming.

Event graphic with photos of three museum objects. Text reads "What's in a theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase"

PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase

Our next "What's in a theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase" event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 11, at 7 pm EDT. The theme is Souvenirs and Swag. As always, our panelists will use the featured objects as starting points for a wide range of unexpected stories. The showcase programs are offered free of charge, but you'll need to register to receive the Zoom link (visit the Facebook event for details). What's that you say? You haven't seen one of our showcase events? Well, you can get caught up by visiting the Showcase playlist on PHMC's YouTube channel.

More Upcoming Virtual Events

Today, April 30
  • Learn at Lunchtime, learn about the last documented mountain lion specimen collected in PA, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm EDT (SMP Facebook event to register)
Saturday, May 1
  • They Fought Equally, a history of United States Colored Troops from PA, PA Military Museum, 2-3:30 pm EDT (PMM Facebook event to register)
Tuesday, May 4
  • A Brief Intro to Wooden Shipbuilding (Part 1 of 4), Erie Maritime Museum & U.S. Brig Niagara, 6-7 pm EDT, additional programs on May 11, 18, and 25 (EMM Facebook event Part 1 to register)

Counting Down the Days

Counting Down the Days
Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're looking for virtual programs. I've highlighted events below, but there's more to see in the weeks ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings. Enjoy!

Historic photo of two older men wearing hats and looking out through a barn door. Covid-19 masks have been drawn on their faces.
Henry and George Landis want your visit to Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum to be safe and enjoyable (photo via LVM Facebook page)

Trails of History sites are getting ready to welcome visitors starting next Friday, April 30. Site schedules will vary, and for the moment most will be open a few days a week. As I always say, please check ahead to make sure that the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there.

We're all anxious to put Covid-19 behind us, so we're making sure we follow CDC and PA Department of Health protocols. Staff, volunteers and visitors will be required to mask up and maintain social distancing. PHMC's "Welcome Back!" page has more info on our safety measures.

Virtual programs will continue, as we've learned that many people like to attend lectures and other offerings that they might never attend in person. Sites will be finding a balance as staff and volunteers - and visitors - adjust to reopening after more than a year. We'll keep you posted.

Looking Back at the Week

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania celebrated National Volunteer Week with a short video featuring volunteers past and present.



Over the past year, Old Economy Village has undergone extensive physical changes, including the installation of a wheelchair lift in the Feast Hall building. Like all sites, they've been preparing the buildings and exhibits to look their best for returning visitors.

From the Museum Educator: Both staff and volunteers have been busy cleaning the historic buildings and getting exhibits...

Posted by Old Economy Village on Saturday, April 17, 2021


Reopening and emergency preparedness plans at Cornwall Iron Furnace included a visit from local emergency services personnel to reaquaint them with the site.

Thank you to Cornwall, Quentin, and Mount Gretna fire companies for touring the Cornwall Iron Furnace as part of our emergency preparation.

Posted by Cornwall Iron Furnace on Monday, April 19, 2021


Pennsbury Manor posted about a popular spring flower, taught us its name in Latin, English, and Lenape, and linked to the "Lenape Talking Dictionary" so we could learn how to pronounce it.

This delicate white flower belongs to a plant called bloodroot in English, and pèkòn in Lenape. The English term '...

Posted by Pennsbury Manor on Wednesday, April 21, 2021


Yesterday, Daniel Boone Homestead wished everyone a happy Earth Day. I hope you had a chance to celebrate the planet that is home to us all.

The Daniel Boone Homestead has 579 acres of land for you to enjoy daily! Celebrate Earth Day with a walk in our park! #danielBoone #EarthDay2021 #parks

Posted by Daniel Boone Homestead on Thursday, April 22, 2021


Upcoming Virtual Events

Today, April 23
  • Learn at Lunchtime, Beth Hager, director of The State Museum of PA, will talk with collections managers Mary Jane Miller and Lauren Stark as well as Aaron McWilliams of the Pennsylvania State Archives, 12:15-12:45 pm EDT (SMP Facebook event to register)
Saturday, April 24
  • Oops! this event has been rescheduled to August 21 Combined Arms: Tactics in the War of 1812, staff from Erie Maritime Museum and the PA Military Museum will discuss land and sea operations, 2-3 pm EDT (Facebook event to register)

National Volunteer Week

Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're looking for virtual programs. I've highlighted events below, but there's more to see in the weeks ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings--available whenever you need some entertainment.

Blue shimmering background with a gray box in the center. Text in white letters reads "Thank You, PHMC Volunteers! National Volunteer Week 2021"
National Volunteer Week this year is April 18-24, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of the PHMC volunteers out there who have helped us weather a very weird year. Every site's experience has been a bit different since we closed to the public in mid-March 2020, but I think it's safe to say that "normal" operations and activities were disrupted. Volunteers do many things at our sites. Those involved in public programming were sidelined, but that doesn't mean they didn't stay engaged. At a number of our sites, staff organized Zoom sessions where volunteers could learn new information, visit other Trails of History sites remotely, and enjoy a virtual happy hour together. At some sites, volunteers were engaged with checking on buildings, maintaining a social media presence, and supporting virtual programs.

Because of, well Covid everything, we didn't do our usual round of nominations for Volunteer of the Year. We're still hoping to hold a ceremony later this fall to recognize, in person, the people honored for service in 2019 (read all about them in the April 17, 2020, Trailheads post). With sites reopening on April 30, we hope that we will work our way back into a rhythm and get back on track. In the meantime, thank you for everything!

Upcoming Virtual Events

Today, April 16
  • Flyover PA: TM Fowler's Bird's-Eye Views of PA, speaker: Dr. Curt Miner, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm EDT (visit SMP Facebook event to register)
Saturday, April 17
  • Naval Wargaming - A Brief History, speaker: Ed Bolla, Erie Maritime Museum, 2-3 pm EDT (visit EMM Facebook event to register)
  • Poison Gas Use in World War I, speaker: Ron Lenox, PA Military Museum, 2-3 pm EDT (visit PMM Facebook event to register)
Sunday, April 18
Tuesday, April 20
  • 18th- and 19th-Century African American History in Pennsylvania German Lancaster County, speaker: Dr. Leroy Hopkins, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, 7-8 pm EDT (Zoom link to register)
Thursday, April 22
  • Simple Machines: Railroad Edition, Railroad Museum of PA, tickets by donation, 10-11 am EDT (Eventbrite link to register)