Another Good Week for History

Before we dig in, I'll note that most, but not all, Trails of History sites will be open on Monday, May 25, for Memorial Day. To avoid surprises, be sure to check the list of open sites.

I guess I should say that all weeks are good weeks for history, but I had to title this post something. As mentioned in a previous post, May 15 was a big day on the Trails of History. Eckley Miners' Village unveiled a new state historical marker celebrating 160+ years of an anthracite patch town's heritage (you can find the text of the marker in an article from the Standard Speaker).

Historical_marker_dedication_Eckley_Miners_Village
Marker_unveiling_Eckley_Miners_Village
Top: Site Administrator Bode Morin speaks to the crowd at Eckley
Bottom: Daughter and granddaughters of John and Beth Hensley unveil the marker; a fund established in memory of the Hensleys covered most of the cost of the marker (photos courtesy Eckley Miners' Village)

And we cut the ribbon on the expanded visitor center at the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum and its new core exhibit, "Challenges and Choices in Pennsylvania's Forests." Tweets and photos from the Lumber Museum event are gathered on Storify, and here are a few photos I took on Saturday, as visitors enjoyed free admission and programs.

Top: A walk on the Sustainable Forestry Trail with a DCNR forester
Middle: Birch twigs heated in the Birch Still to extract oil of wintergreen
Bottom: Bill Jamerson performs his CCC program for an appreciative crowd

The May program listings will tell you most of what you need to know about events and activities the rest of the month. But I'd like to highlight a few things related to Memorial Day weekend. (But first, you might like to read an article about the annual 28th Division "Celebration of Service" that took place last weekend at the Pennsylvania Military Museum.)
  • Saturday and Sunday, May 23-24, 10 am-4 pm, Pennsylvania Military Museum: American and German WWII reenactors will be bivouacked on the museum grounds portraying field life in the European Theater of Operations, 1944-45, as part of the "World War II Revisited" program. Grounds will be open 10 am-4 pm. Saturday only, at 2:30 pm, "Letters from Home: A Serviceman's Canteen Show” will entertain the troops and homefront crowd (please bring your own seating). Inside the museum, May 23-25, you'll find a small exhibit of the Civil War casket flag of Amos Myers and the WWII Medal of Honor of Foster J. Sayers, both Centre County soldiers.
  • Sunday, May 24, 1 pm, Washington Crossing Historic Park: a memorial observance at the Continental soldiers gravesite, Thompson-Neely House (Upper Park). Stop by the Visitor Center to see the new exhibit, "The Gentleman Soldier," that highlights the economic and social differences between senior officers and rank-and-file soldiers of the Continental Army.

How Did We Get Here?

Wanting to plan your weekend? The May program listings can help. Wondering which sites are open on Memorial Day? There's help for that, too.

As I may have mentioned once or twice, today (May 15) is the grand reopening for the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum (background info and details are in the official press release). The ribbon-cutting is at 10 am today but the celebration will go on throughout the weekend with music, walks on the sustainable forestry trail, a program about the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and much more. Oh, and free admission.

The part of the project that I have been most directly involved in is the new core exhibit, "Challenges and Choices in Pennsylvania's Forests." The new exhibit builds on the research and collections of the original exhibits (focused on the history of lumbering in Pennsylvania and the role of the CCC in reforestation and state parks) and adds other topics, including contemporary efforts to balance recreation, conservation, and economic issues.

In posts earlier this year, curator Lauren Jaeger wrote about freezing textiles, and her colleague Rachel Yerger wrote about vacuuming and housing textiles. Here are a few more behind-the-scenes photos of the museum installation, courtesy of Lauren, Rachel, and regional curator Susan Hanna. I hope this will whet your appetite to see the exhibit for yourselves.

Exhibit walls going up

More walls and lighting

Lots of photo murals!

Info about early settlement in the forests of PA


Getting ready to install a 40 ft band saw blade

News from All Over

Spring seems to have given way to summer already, at least for the time being. I'm headed to Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum's annual Herb & Garden Faire today. I go almost every year, because 1) I love it and 2) I've managed, as usual, to kill most of the plants I bought last year. I'm every garden center's best friend. Anyway, I've rounded up some items of interest (I hope) to share this week. The list of upcoming programs was in last week's post, so if you're looking for something to do this weekend, you'll find lots there.

LVM_Herb_and_Garden_Faire_2013
Herb & Garden Faire, Landis Valley, 2013 (I think - photo by AKF)

As part of the 150th anniversary of the founding of Pithole, PA, an oil boomtown near the site of Drake's well, the folks at Drake Well Museum (who oversee the remains of the town) have planned a full program of events this summer. The visitor center (profiled in the Trailheads column in the summer issue of Pennsylvania Heritage magazine) will be open on weekends, starting June 6 with "Wildcatter Day." One of the quirky features of the big day is a Look Alike contest - visit the photo album on Facebook to see if you or someone you know looks like one of the Pithole residents pictured. More info on the contest is available in the Titusville Herald.

You may have already heard that there is a direct link between one of this year's Pulitzer Prize winners and the PA Trails of History, but if you haven't here it is. Julia Wolfe's "Anthracite Fields," a choral work commissioned by The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, recently won the Pulitzer for music. Wolfe researched life and work in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania, visiting many locations in the area, including our own Anthracite Heritage Museum. You can read more in an Associated Press story, including quotes from AHM's Barbara Powell, who attended the work's premiere last April.

I'm really late in sharing this one. At the end of March, Chris Rosenblum of the Centre Daily Times wrote an interesting piece about the lecture series at the Pennsylvania Military Museum, formally known as the Friends' [of PMM] Richard Koontz Memorial Lecture Series. Rosenblum interviewed WWII pilot John Homan, who was the featured speaker for April's program, and museum educator Joe Horvath about the value of sharing and capturing the stories that are so much a part of our history. You can find more info about upcoming lectures and programs on PMM's website.

Next Friday, May 15, Eckley Miners' Village will receive its new PHMC Historical Marker. Eckley turned 160 last year and the new marker provides the public with a brief history. The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2 pm.

May 15 is also the grand reopening of the PA Lumber Museum and its new core exhibit, with a ceremony scheduled for 10 am. In next week's post, I'll share some behind-the-scenes photos of the run-up to this much-anticipated event. Stay tuned.