Virtual Groundhog Day?

Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're planning ahead. I've included some highlights below. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings, available 24/7.

Groundhog, eating
A groundhog eating (credit D. Gordon, E. Robertson via Creative Commons)

In what is likely a first (hedging my bets, here), Punxsutawney Phil will deliver the annual prognostication of winter's length virtually. Since I've never gone to Gobbler's Knob in person and really don't like being out in the cold, it's all the same to me, although I know there are plenty of folks who love that sort of thing. Anyway, you'll find Phil and the gang at if you want to catch the excitement from home (I just might). I'm sure many of you know that Phil is not Pennsylvania's only whistlepig (and I'm not talking about his brother Gus). I haven't been able to find out info on all of them for this year. I can tell you that Octoraro Orphie is sitting this one out, but Mount Joy Minnie will make a prediction. (I know this is the content you all come to Trailheads for.)

Regardless of what the groundhogs predict, hopes for spring spring eternal on the Trails of History. Pennsbury Manor has announced a project to revitalize the Upper Court, or formal gardens, behind the Manor House. Gardens always require a degree of hope (and spring).

We are pleased to announce the launch of an exciting endeavor that will enhance the aesthetics and educational value of...

Posted by Pennsbury Manor on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

David Miller, museum educator at Old Economy Village, posted some descriptions of George Rapp's garden, along with a lovely image.

From the Museum Educator: When the Duke of Saxe-Weimar visited Economy in 1826 he had this to say about George Rapp’s...

Posted by Old Economy Village on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

And to get a start on your own garden, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum's Heirloom Seed Project has begun taking orders for seeds.

Whether your garden consists of a few pots on the patio or a full scale vegetable garden, nothing tops heirloom veggies!...

Posted by Landis Valley Museum on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Of course, we have Bernie memes!

Historic Hope Lodge found Sen. Bernie Sanders, with his sensible coat, mask, and warm mittens, in the unheated (at the moment) parlor.

Welcome to Hope Lodge, Mr. Sanders. Better late than never!

Posted by Historic Hope Lodge on Saturday, January 23, 2021

Senator Sanders also, apparently, found his way into the black bear diorama in the State Museum's Mammal Hall.

How does he do it? #Bernie is welcome to visit when we reopen, but for now visit Mammal Hall 360 to see the dioramas -> #BernieMemes2021 #pamammalhall #bernieatmuseums

Posted by The State Museum of Pennsylvania on Friday, January 22, 2021

And to everyone's astonishment, Bernie was able to climb aboard Oliver Hazard Perry's boat as he transferred from Lawrence to Niagara.

Wait. That's not how we remember it... #bernie #memes

Posted by Erie Maritime Museum on Thursday, January 21, 2021

Upcoming virtual events

Friday, January 29
Saturday, January 30
  • Boats, Ships, and Us: SS Keewatin, Erie Maritime Museum, 2-3 pm (info and registration)
  • An Industrial History Tour of Scotland, England, and Wales, Anthracite Heritage Museum, 2-3 pm (Zoom link)
Wednesday, February 3
  • Online Sail Training Course, week 1 of 6, Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, 6-7:30 pm (info and registration)
Thursday, February 4

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're planning ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings; it's ready when you are.

I know many of you have been watching the virtual programs that Trails of History sites have been offering since the pandemic began last spring. If you haven't, let me try to entice you with some previews of upcoming offerings and some links to programs you may have missed.

Snowshoe, mansion with snow on the ground, and a sled used by an undertaker that has a box for the coffin. Text reads "What's in a theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase"

The second episode of our new series, "What's in a theme?" is scheduled for Tuesday evening, January 26, at 7 pm. The January theme is winter and cold weather. Presenters from Trails of History sites will show objects and images from their collections and the audience will vote on the one they think best illustrates the theme. The program is free, but registration is required to get the Zoom link (registration info). If you missed the premiere in December, the food-themed first episode is available on PHMC's YouTube channel.

The following evening, the industrial heritage sites on the Trails of History are teaming up to present "Reel History: Pennsylvania Industrial History at the Movies," a new series that kicks off with an exploration of industrial development, labor, and social history themes in the 1970 film, "The Molly Maguires." Fun fact: Eckley Miners' Village was one of the anthracite region venues for filming. View the movie at your leisure (it's currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube), and then join the discussion via Zoom on January 27 at 7 pm (registration link).

Two multi-story wooden buildings sit at a 90 degree angle to each other on a grassy hill. A wooden footbridge is directly in front of the viewer, leading to a paved path that goes up the hill.
The Sisters' House and Saal at Ephrata Cloister (image via Facebook)

Ephrata Cloister's popular Winter History class will be offered online this year, starting on February 4 and continuing through April 1. That's especially good news for folks who aren't in the immediate area. You can sign up for the whole series of classes or for individual sessions, as your interest dictates. The full schedule, with details on each class, is available on Ephrata's website, along with instructions for registering by mail or online.

If you just can't get enough sea shanties (or if you want an antidote to the Wellerman earworm), Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara reminded us all this week about their Spotify playlist, featuring sailor songs recorded by The Hardtackers (Facebook post).

Apparently there’s a new trend with social media and shanties? #didyouknow you can follow the Erie Maritime Museum on...

Posted by Erie Maritime Museum on Saturday, January 16, 2021

Many Trails of History sites post the recordings of their virtual programs to Facebook and YouTube for folks who don't get a chance to watch live. Recent additions from The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and Old Economy Village can help you spend a quiet evening or weekend afternoon learning something new and interesting.

Bits and Pieces

Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're planning ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings; it's ready when you are.

Twisted skeins of wool in multiple earth tones in a wooden basket
The twisted skein on top of the basket was dyed using onion skins. This photo from Daniel Boone Homestead's Facebook page reminded me of the sheep to shawl contest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show

Sometimes there's no theme

There's no point in pretending that I've had any real focus this past week. So let's just roll with it and explore some of the interesting images and info that our Trails of History Sites have been sharing.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show's live online programming continues through Saturday. Check out PHMC's Virtual Farm Show Booth for all kinds of good content.

Old Economy Village's museum educator posted this photo of a squirrel on the roof of the Community Kitchen. It made me smile, so I'm sharing it. David Miller and curator Sarah Buffington have shared lots of interesting images, objects, and info on Facebook. If you're not following Old Economy's page, you're missing out.

From the Museum Educator: On Saturday I was walking past the Community Kitchen and noticed a squirrel on one of the chimneys. Since I had my camera with me, I took some photos. Enjoy!

Posted by Old Economy Village on Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Hope Lodge explained and illustrated a prominent architectural feature on the mansion with a photo taken on a crisp winter day.

We often get lots of questions about the arched indentation in the wall above the door hood of the mansion. This is...

Posted by Historic Hope Lodge on Saturday, January 9, 2021

The State Museum of Pennsylvania shared a cool quilt pieced from almost 6,000 1-inch blocks.

Sometimes quilts are made from a single piece of fabric. In other instances, quilts are made from individual pieces of...

Posted by The State Museum of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, January 12, 2021

And Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara acknowledged the current popularity of sea shanties on TikTok.

Hey U.S. Brig Niagara, is it #seashanty o’ clock?

Posted by Erie Maritime Museum on Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, January 19
  • Railroad Museum of PA, "Workin' on the Railroad," a virtual program geared to kids in grades K to 6, 10 am (info and registration)
Thursday, January 21
  • Drake Well Museum & Park, "The New World of COVID-19: Paradigm Shifts in the Petroleum Industry," a panel discussion exploring the effects of the pandemic on all facets of the petroleum industry, 12:30 pm (info and registration)
  • Somerset Historical Center, "It's a Hockey Night in Pittsburgh: 1893 to Today," presented by Larry Woods via the Heinz History Center Affiliates Program, 6:30 pm (info and registration)
Tuesday, January 26
  • Pennsylvania Trails of History, "What's in a theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase," a multi-site presentation on collections focused on the theme of winter and cold weather, 7 pm (info and registration)

Virtual Farm Show

Please check the PHMC Events Calendar if you're planning ahead. The Trailheads Rec Room to the right of your screen has all kinds of online offerings, available whenever you need a taste of the Trails of History.
Three young white women in warm clothes stand next to a blue and gold historical marker, which is titled "Century Farm Program"
Photo from a previous year's in-person Pennsylvania Farm Show (PHMC photo)

Everything but the donuts (almost)

Traditionally (for a few years anyway), the first new Trailheads post of the year focuses on the Pennsylvania Farm Show and PHMC's participation. It is often one of the most popular posts. This year's Farm Show is taking place mostly online, which means no parking problems or waiting in the cold for a shuttle bus. But it also means [sob!] no Farm Show food (those of you in the Harrisburg area may be able to get potato donuts at your local Giant or Karns supermarket). Although it's not entirely the same without the smells of the animals or the food, this year's virtual Farm Show, January 9-16, means that those of you who can't get to Harrisburg anyway can enjoy the same events as everyone else. Check out the daily schedule of events (including a nightly food and beverage pairing) on the Farm Show website or follow the Farm Show Facebook page for updates.
An older African American man in cap, collared shirt,  and overalls outdoors holding a small piece of farm machinery with wheels and a chain on an incline
William Chester Ruth (1882-1971) demonstrates a model of one of his inventions, a self-lifting elevator for moving bales of hay and other agricultural materials into storage (photo from Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum virtual exhibit on his life, work, and family)

Once it goes live on January 9, you can visit PHMC's Virtual PA Farm Show Booth anytime you like. You'll find info about PHMC's programs, a link to Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum's virtual exhibit on inventor William Chester Ruth, the Pennsylvania State Archives research assets, the State Museum of Pennsylvania's Mammal Hall exhibit, the historical marker scavenger hunt, and the Section of Archaeology's popular dugout canoe (and much more). So many stories to explore.

View through a doorway to a plaster wall with a square opening. The bottom steps of a wooden stairway are visible to the left.
View of one of the vaults at Old Economy Village (photo via Facebook)

Upcoming events

Saturday, January 9
  • Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara: Boats, Ships, and Us - The USS Pennsylvania - a collaborative online lecture with the PA Military Museum, 2 pm (link for info and registration)
Sunday, January 10
  • Pennsylvania Military Museum, online lecture, "The Korean War, 70 Years Later - U.S. Airpower," 2 pm (info and registration)
Tuesday, January 12
  • Old Economy Village, online lecture, "Vaults and Safes at Old Economy Village," 7 pm (info and registration)
Thursday, January 14
  • Ephrata Cloister, Ephrata Virtual Academy lecture, "An Illustrated History of Postcards with Ephrata Cloister and Other Views," 7 pm (info and registration)
  • Premiere of WQED Pittsburgh documentary, "Out of the Woods: Battlefields of Western Pennsylvania," which features, among other southwestern PA historic sites, Bushy Run Battlefield and Fort Pitt Museum (additional info)