Halfway Through September?

Halfway Through September? Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual). I've included highlights for the coming week 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, if you're looking for a Covid vaccine provider, check out Vaccines.gov and enter your zip code.

Please note that staff and volunteers at Commonwealth of PA worksites, including the PA Trails of History, are wearing masks while indoors. Visitors are encouraged, though not required, to do so as well.


A great blue heron stands next to a lake and is reflected in the surface of the water.
This Great Blue Heron was hanging out at Conrad Weiser Homestead last weekend (photo via CWH Facebook)

Last week was pretty somber, with our focus on the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, not to mention the anniversaries of the Battle of Lake Erie and the Battle of Brandywine. So this week, I'm just going to share some posts that I hope will brighten your day a bit. I hope you have a great weekend, whenever yours happens to fall, and a restful week ahead.

The milkweed at Daniel Boone Homestead supports native honey bees, wasps, and monarch butterflies.



Pennsbury Manor's kitchen garden is graced with a hyacinth bean arbor that is blooming vibrantly as summer winds down.



Somerset Historical Center had a very successful Mountain Craft Days event last weekend and shared a quick video of their limekiln burning during the night.



And at the Erie Maritime Museum, the cover came off the U.S. Brig Niagara this week, on purpose, so that it can sail to Cleveland for maintenance.



Upcoming Events (in-person and virtual)

Today, September 17
  • Learn at Lunchtime (in-person and virtual): program director Bradley Smith will talk with senior curator of zoology and botany Walter Meshaka about extinct birds of PA, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm, included in regular admission or join via Zoom (SMOP link for info and Zoom registration)
Saturday, September 18
  • Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day (in-person): Ephrata Cloister and the Railroad Museum of PA are participating sites this year. Select a site and download your free tickets by visiting the Museum Day website.
  • StoryTime (in-person): learn about PA's crayon history and read "The Day the Crayons Quit" by Drew Daywalt, The State Museum of PA, 10:30-11:30 am, included in regular admission (StoryTime info)
  • Paws in the Park (in-person): celebrate dogs and their walkers, Bushy Run Battlefield, 11 am-3 pm (BRB Facebook for info)
Sunday, September 19
  • Open-Hearth Cooking (in-person): chat with the cooks while they prepare recipes from William Penn's time, Pennsbury Manor, 1-4 pm, included in regular admission (PM link for info)
Wednesday, September 22
  • Explore! (in-person): learn about the seasonal change from Summer to Fall, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, for kids in grades 3-5 and included in regular admission (Explore! info)
  • History Speaks lecture series (virtual): George Bray will present a talk on John Bradstreet, Bushy Run Battlefield, 7 pm, cost is $10 (Eventbrite link for tickets)
Thursday, September 23
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person): learn about the shapes and colors of the falling leaves, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, for kids in grades K-2 and included in regular admission (Curiosity Kids info)

Twenty Years Ago

Twenty Years Ago Please be sure to check the PHMC Events Calendar for information on upcoming programs (in-person and virtual). I've included highlights for the coming week 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, if you're looking for a Covid vaccine provider, check out Vaccines.gov and enter your zip code.

Please note that staff and volunteers at Commonwealth of PA worksites, including the PA Trails of History, are wearing masks while indoors. Visitors are encouraged, though not required, to do so as well.

Chain link fence with flowers, toys, flags inserted as tribute to passengers and crew of Flight 93. Two large pieces of plywood painted white have signatures all over them. A large sign in the center says "Our Prayers Are With You."
Tributes at the Temporary Memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 in Somerset County, PA (PHMC staff photo)

I was with my family at Ocean City, Maryland - my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, my nephew and niece (their brother was born a month later). My brother had gone back to Baltimore for meetings the night before. He called that morning to tell us we should turn on the tv. Those of you old enough to remember know what we saw. My mom and sister-in-law and I took the kids, who were nearly 4 and 2-and-a-half, to Assateague to see the horses and get them away from the tv. My retired journalist dad, ever the news junkie, remained at the house to watch things unfold. We heard reports of one tower collapsing on the car radio, which I think we then turned off. While we got the kids a snack, we spoke with a Secret Service agent who was cutting his family vacation short to return to work. My brother, his meetings now cancelled, made his way back to Ocean City later in the day. We learned that a family friend, a flight attendant who regularly flew the route that crashed into the Pentagon, had flown to Los Angeles the day before. She was safe, although she'd lost colleagues and friends and didn't return home to Virginia until flights resumed a few days later. We tried to balance keeping the news on with sheltering the little ones from it. At the time, my nephew was going through a period of worrying about monsters. As we all sat on the porch that night, he asked "Are there monsters in the world?" We tried our best to reassure him, and ourselves, that we would keep him safe.

Remembering September 11 on the Trails of History

The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Archives opened an exhibit this week featuring the handwritten field notes of Col. Paul J. Evanko, who was head of the Pennsylvania State Police on September 11, 2001. These notes document the response to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 outside of Shanksville, Somerset County. In 2016, Evanko donated his notes to the Archives, and they are on public display for the first time. In August, archivist Richard Saylor spoke with the State Museum's program director, Brad Smith, about the Paul Evanko Collection and the exhibit (Witness to History on YouTube). The exhibit will be on view at The State Museum during regular operating hours through January 2, 2022.

The summer issue of Pennsylvania Heritage magazine includes a piece by Rich Saylor about the Evanko collection, an article by Peter Durantine titled "The Man for the Moment: Tom Ridge and the 9/11 Inflection Point," and a Trailheads piece about the role of the Somerset Historical Center in collecting and preserving tribute items left at the temporary memorial to Flight 93 that quickly sprang up near the crash site.

The Pennsylvania Military Museum is hosting a series of talks this weekend related to the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Tomorrow (Saturday, 9/11), Jennifer Bennie, who served as a combat aviator, will present "Naval Aviation in the Greater War on Terror" at noon, and MG John Gronski (Ret.), former Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Europe, and Commanding General of the 28th Division, PA National Guard, will present "The 28th Division, Combatting Terrorism" at 2 pm. Saturday's talks are in-person at the museum. On Sunday, Sept. 12, SW2 Charles Johnson, currently a Naval Reservist and museum educator at the Erie Maritime Museum, will present an online talk, "Seabees in the War on Terror" at 2 pm. Seating for Saturday's events is first come, first served. You can register for Sunday's event via Zoom. Visit the museum's website for additional information.

Brandywine Battlefield will hold their traditional Remembrance Ceremony tomorrow (Saturday) on-site starting at 6 pm. The event commemorates the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, and the events of September 11, 2001. Please visit Brandywine's website for details.

Other Upcoming Events (in-person and virtual)

Today, September 10
  • Mountain Craft Days (in-person): Somerset Historical Center, 10 am-5 pm today through Sunday, tickets $9 for adults (SHC Facebook page for details)
  • Learn at Lunchtime (in-person and virtual): Pennsylvania black bears, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm, included in regular admission or join via Zoom (info and SMOP Zoom registration)
  • Commemoration of the Battle of Lake Erie (virtual): Erie Maritime Museum and U.S. Brig Niagara, events throughout the day on social media, wreath-laying ceremony beginning at 5:30 pm (EMM Facebook event).
  • Battlefield Paranormal Tour (in-person): Bushy Run Battlefield, 6:30 pm-1 am, tickets (advance sales only) are $20 (BRB Facebook event for info and tickets)
Sunday, September 12
  • Online bidding starts (virtual): Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, now through Sept. 18 (online auction to preview and bid)
  • Living History Sunday (in-person): Conrad Weiser Homestead, noon-4 pm (CWH website for details)
  • Gallery Walk (in-person): The State Museum of Pennsylvania will be one of the stops, noon-5 pm (SMOP website for info).
  • Living History Theater (in-person): Pennsbury Manor, presented at 12:15, 1:45, and 3:15 (site open noon-5 pm), included in regular admission (Pennsbury website for details)
Tuesday, September 14
Wednesday, September 15
  • Ask A Curator (virtual): Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum curator Jennifer Royer will take your questions via PHMC's Twitter account as part of this worldwide social media event, 10 am
  • Explore! (in-person): PA industrial towns, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, for kids in grades 3-5 and included in regular admission (Explore! info)
  • What's in a theme? PHMC Virtual Collections Showcase (virtual): this month's theme is music, 7-8 pm (VCS link for Zoom registration)
Thursday, September 16
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person): kids in grades K-2 are invited to learn about structures, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in regular admission (Curiosity Kids info)
  • PA History: Read It, See It (virtual): make a virtual visit to Cornwall Iron Furnace, hosted by State Library of PA, noon-1 pm (Read It, See It link for Zoom registration)


What a Week

What a Week 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, if you're looking for a Covid vaccine provider, check out Vaccines.gov and enter your zip code.

Please note that staff and volunteers at Commonwealth of PA worksites, including the PA Trails of History, are wearing masks while indoors. Visitors are encouraged, though not required, to do so as well.


An overflowing creek is flanked on one side by green grass and plants, on the other by a stone sidewalk and stone wall with World War 1 and 2 memorial plaques.
The remnants of Hurricane Ida flooded the 28th Infantry Division Shrine at the PA Military Museum on Wed., Sept. 1 (PMM staff photo)

As I write this on Wednesday afternoon, heavy rain is falling in many parts of Pennsylvania and is expected to continue through tonight at least. Although the weather is expected to clear and be pretty lovely for the weekend, please be sure to check ahead with any Trails of History sites you plan to visit. They'll update their Facebook pages if there are weather-induced schedule changes. Likewise, if you're thinking of visiting on Labor Day (Sept. 6), please confirm that the site is open. Many sites are still on adjusted (from pre-Covid) schedules.

With that out of the way, here are a few bits and pieces I'd like to share. I hope you are safe and healthy and survived this week's weather unscathed. See you next week.

Old black & white photo shows five men of Erie's Life-Saving service with their beach cart, which has large metal wheels and spools of rope. A small black dog is seen to their right.
Members of Erie's Life Saving Service during a drill with their beach cart, supervised by a small black dog (posted for #InternationalDogDay)

The Erie Maritime Museum has "opened" a new virtual exhibit, "Surfmen of Erie, Pennsylvania," exploring the history of the U.S. Life-Saving Station in Erie. The exhibit features photos and archival materials from the Freeburg Collection, assembled by Anders Freeburg, who was assigned to the Erie station from 1904 to 1915.

Staff from the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation took a Trails of History road trip last week, visiting Daniel Boone Homestead, Cornwall Iron Furnace, Ephrata Cloister, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, and the Railroad Museum of PA over the course of a couple of days. They shared their trip via the PHF Facebook page. You can visit all those sites, too, and more with a PHF membership!

Before all the rain came, Ephrata posted video of a gray goose and a white goose feeding under an apple tree. I'm sure there are more specific names for them, that's all I've got. Please leave a comment if you know what they are. You can hear other birds calling on the video, but I don't want to guess what those are either. Here ends today's ornithology lesson.



Upcoming Events (virtual and in-person)

Today, September 3
  • StoryTime (in-person): this month's book is "The Day the Crayons Quit" by Drew Daywalt, The State Museum of PA, 10:30-11:30 am, designed for kids age 2 to Pre-K and included in regular admission (StoryTime info)
  • Artists Conversations (in-person & virtual): fine arts curator Amy Hammond will talk with several artists about how Covid-19 has affected their work, The State Museum of PA, 12:15-12:45 pm, included in regular admission or tune in via Zoom (info and Zoom registration).
Saturday, September 4
  • Community Yard Sale (in-person): vendors will be located near the museum entrance along Route 6, PA Lumber Museum, 9 am-4 pm (Yard Sale info)
Sunday, September 5
  • Online Benefit Auction (virtual): preview week today through Sept. 11, online bidding takes place Sept. 12-18, Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (auction info)
  • Historic Trades (in-person): demonstrators are eager to talk with you as they showcase their skills, Pennsbury Manor, 1-4 pm, included in regular admission (Pennsbury info)
  • UPDATE 9/5/21 CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER Patriotic Concert (in-person): bring your lawn chairs and enjoy an evening of music (buildings will not be open), Conrad Weiser Homestead, 5-6 pm (concert info)
Wednesday, September 8
  • Explore! (in-person): kids in grades 3 to 5 are invited to learn about the history of communication, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, included in regular admission (Explore info)
Thursday, September 9
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person): learn how lanterns light up the night and make your own decoupage lantern, The State Museum of PA, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, geared for kids in grades K-2 and included in regular admission (Curiosity Kids info)
  • Exhibit opens (in-person): "Witness to History: Col. Paul Evanko's 9/11 Field Notes," The State Museum of PA, today through January 2, 2022 during regular hours (exhibit info)
  • JUST ADDED: Ephrata Virtual Academy: this month's program features Cornwall Iron Furnace, Ephrata Cloister, 7-8 pm (Ephrata link for Zoom registration)