The USS Pennsylvania

The USS Pennsylvania 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 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.

Two long gray 66-ton artillery guns from USS Pennsylvania mounted on concrete supports. Military members and civilians are gathered nearby for a public event.
Two 66-ton guns from the USS Pennsylvania were installed at the PA Military Museum in 2009 (photo PA Military Museum)

On Tuesday, December 7, at 12:45 pm, the Pennsylvania Military Museum will host a remembrance ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the Japanese Imperial Navy's attack on the American military installation at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. This annual event takes place beneath the museum's two massive guns from the USS Pennsylvania (official designation: BB-38) that were installed on the grounds in 2009 after years spent at a US Navy facility in Dahlgren, Virginia. Bringing the guns to Boalsburg was a long-term effort, led by the Friends of the PA Military Museum and museum staff. Recently, the mount for the guns was overhauled, and the museum posted about it on their Facebook page (Pennsy gun post on Facebook).

You can learn more about the Pennsy Guns and the PA Military Museum by tuning in to PA History: Read It, See It at noon on December 16. This program is a collaboration between PHMC and the State Library of Pennsylvania that provides a brief virtual visit to a Trails of History site and info on related library materials. To sign up for Dec. 16, send an email to with your name and the date/topic of the event. They'll add you to the list to receive a Zoom link closer to the program date (catch up with previous PA History: Read It, See It programs).

The designation "USS Pennsylvania" refers to multiple ships. As is tradition in the U.S. Navy, names are reused for different generations of ships as time passes. The first USS Pennsylvania launched in 1837, and the current holder of the name is SSBN-735, a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine launched in 1988. The ship (BB-38) where the museum's guns saw action launched in 1915, saw service in two world wars, and was sunk during atomic bomb testing in 1948. There is some newsreel footage of BB-38 undergoing maintenance at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1930 that shows 14-inch guns like those at the museum being added to the ship's armament (could be the actual guns, but it's probably not possible to tell from the film). Tip of the hat to Charlie Fox for the link to the Fox Movietone News Collection at the Univ. of South Carolina (USS Pennsylvania Gets New Set of Guns).

Tall slender Christmas tree with white lights and ornaments stands next to the marble fireplace. A dozen or more nutracker figures of different sizes are placed on window sills and tables around the room.
One of Hope Lodge's colonial revival rooms decorated for Christmas (photo via HL Facebook page)

The Week Ahead

Today, December 3
  • StoryTime (in-person): read An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola; The State Museum of PA; 10:30-11:30 am; for kids ages 2 to Pre-K and included in regular admission (StoryTime info)
  • Learn at Lunchtime (virtual): curator Amy Hammond talks with Lauren Whearty and Kelly Kautz, whose works are included in the 2021 Art of the State exhibition; The State Museum of PA; 12:15-12:45 pm (register for Learn at Lunchtime)
Saturday, December 4
  • Christmas Open House (in-person): guided tours of the furnace, unique gifts and gift wrapping, holiday decorations, and light seasonal refreshments; Cornwall Iron Furnace; 9 am-7 pm; included in regular admission (Open House info)
  • Home for the Holidays (in-person): costumed staff will evoke the past, you can have a virtual visit with Santa, send a telegram to the North Pole, and enjoy festive decorations and music; The Railroad Museum of PA; 10 am-4 pm (also takes place on Dec. 11); included in regular admission (Home for the Holidays info)
  • Holiday Mansion Tours (in-person): guided tours of the mansion decorated for the season; Hope Lodge; tours at 11:30 am, 1 pm, 2:30 pm; regular admission charged, but today it includes cookies and hot chocolate (Mansion Tours info)
Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5
  • Christmas at Eckley (in-person): carolers and cocoa, crafts and St. Nick; Eckley Miners' Village; 10 am-4 pm both days; admission is $7, $1 discount with food pantry donation (Christmas at Eckley info)
  • Staying Warm in the Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge (in-person): living historians will be encamped from 10 am to 4 pm near the Sherman Tank both days, lecture at 2:30 pm Saturday on Major Dick Winters; Pennsylvania Military Museum; Battle of the Bulge events are free, regular admission applies to tour the museum galleries (PMM event info)
  • Christmas at the Village (in-person): visit the historic buildings to learn about 19th-century trades and traditions, listen to music, shop for handcrafted items, and visit with Belsnickel; Old Economy Village; Saturday 2-9 pm, Sunday 2-7 pm; regular admission charged (Christmas at the Village info)
Sunday, December 5
  • Christmas Open House (in-person): living historians will be on site for this festive event; Conrad Weiser Homestead; noon-4 pm (Open House info)
  • Children's Christmas Party (in-person): children ages 5-12 are invited for an afternoon of games, crafts, and a visit with Santa; Bushy Run Battlefield; 1-3 pm; cost is $5 (Christmas Party info)
  • Artists Conversations Gallery Tour (in-person): artist Harold Zabady will lead a casual tour of the 2021 Art of the State exhibition; The State Museum of PA; 2-3 pm; included in regular admission (Gallery Tour info)
Wednesday, December 8
  • Explore! (in-person): learn about ways to make art from items in nature; The State Museum of PA; 11:30 am-12:30 pm; for kids in grades 3-5 and included in regular admission (Explore! info)
Thursday, December 9
  • Curiosity Kids (in-person): learn about firetrucks and the history of firefighting in Pennsylvania; The State Museum of PA; 11:30 am-12:30 pm; for kids in grades K-2 and included in regular admission. Space is limited so be sure to sign up at the Ground Floor Information Desk when you arrive (Curiosity Kids info)

On Sale Now (as of 12/1; some programs will sell out)

  • Christmas at the Cloister: Ephrata Cloister presents a program of lessons and carols in the historic Meetinghouse, with performances at 6:30 and 8 pm. Tickets available online for Dec. 14 (Dec. 13 sold out) via Ticketleap (Christmas at the Cloister info and tickets).
  • Lantern Tours: Dec. 27-30 at Ephrata Cloister learn about the site's history through living history tours and performances; advance tickets required, on sale starting Dec. 1 (Lantern Tour info)
  • Winter Day Camp: on Dec. 29 from 9 am to 4:30 pm Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum will present a day camp for kids in grades 5-11; the focus is Christmas Around the World and includes a themed escape room; cost is $60 per camper ($54 for members) (Day Camp info and registration)
  • Rails and Ales: enjoy an evening of craft beer among the museum's historic trains at the Railroad Museum of PA, April 9, 2022, 5:30-9 pm; must be 21 or older to attend; variety of ticket options, including designated driver tickets (Rails and Ales tickets)


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