Trailheads presents information and details about the exhibits, events and programs hosted by the historic sites and museums on PHMC's Pennsylvania Trails of History.

History never truly sleeps on the Pennsylvania Trails of History, but winter is generally a slower season with reduced schedules and fewer programs and events. Charter Day, the celebration of Pennsylvania’s founding (the second Sunday in March), is the traditional start to our spring season. As the weather warms, activity increases at the sites and museums. The landscape loses its dull winter cover. Thousands of school students eagerly explore the sites and learn about Pennsylvania history and culture. The calendar begins to fill with lively opportunities for a variety of interests.

This sgraffito decorated flower pot, inscribed “Ann Shingle 1826” and attributed to Vickers Pottery (active 1786–1865), Chester County, is in the collection of Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum and is included in the museum’s new redware exhibit.

This sgraffito decorated flower pot, inscribed “Ann Shingle 1826” and attributed to Vickers Pottery (active 1786–1865), Chester County, is in the collection of Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum and is included in the museum’s new redware exhibit.
Landis Valley Associates/Photo by Cindy Reedy

Visit patrailheads.blogspot.com, the weekly Trailheads blog, for a roundup of Trails of History activities. The sites and museums also keep their calendars online via their websites. Those are the best places to get up-to-date information. What follows is a sampling of upcoming events and exhibits through June.

 

Redware Exhibition

Curatorial staff at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum (landisvalleymuseum.org) in Lancaster have spent several years developing their new changing exhibit, Thrown, Fired and Glazed: The Redware Tradition from Pennsylvania and Beyond, which opened on Charter Day. The exhibit will run through December 2019 and then reopen in March 2020 with a new array of artifacts. Throughout the two years, the museum will show more than 300 pieces, encompassing the history of Pennsylvania German redware, a specialized type of pottery using reddish brown clays and decorated in various ways with stylized motifs. Many pieces from public and private collections never exhibited before are on display. Curator Jennifer Royer said, “With the ability to exhibit a variety of pieces both years, we are able to focus on the differences between redware in Europe, the northern United States, southern United States and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s redware tradition is the major focus of the exhibit, covering archaeological pieces, traditional work, the creation of redware, and the revival of the artform.”

 

Beer and Wine Events

The fourth annual Rails & Ales event at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Lancaster County, will take place on April 6 from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m. Some two dozen brewers and half a dozen food vendors will be on hand. Set among the museum’s collection of historic locomotives and passenger and freight cars, this event has quickly gained a foothold in a crowded market of beer and wine events. This year, attendees will have a chance to explore new exhibits of railroad artifacts and images and hear stories as they sample craft brews and ciders. Tickets may be purchased online (if still available) at railsandales.org.

Other beer and wine events on the Trails of History include Brews & Bites on June 29 at Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, Bucks County, and Blast! on August 16 at Cornwall Iron Furnace in Cornwall, Lebanon County.

 

Experiencing War

The Great War Remembered, a living history event interpreting World War I, is scheduled for April 27–28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, at the Pennsylvania Military Museum (pamilmuseum.org) in Boalsburg, Centre County. In addition to a military encampment on the museum grounds, the program includes lectures and a film screening. Other planned living history events at the museum will focus on the American Civil War (May 4–5), World War II (May 25–26), and the Vietnam War (July 20–21).

 

Pennsylvania Military Museum volunteers interpret the experience of American soldiers in World War I during last year’s Great War Remembered event.

Pennsylvania Military Museum volunteers interpret the experience of American soldiers in World War I during last year’s Great War Remembered event.
Photo, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

 

Artisans in the Park

The Conrad Weiser Homestead (conradweiserhomestead.org) in Womelsdorf, Berks County, will host the Artisans in the Park Spring Show on May 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vendors will include woodworkers, glass and jewelry artists, textile crafters, painters, and photographers, as well as caterers and cooks with their food trucks. In addition to perusing the handmade crafts and food, visitors will also be able to learn more about the Weiser house and grounds and their historical context and enjoy live musical entertainment. Admission to the event is free; your purchases help to support the interpretive programs offered throughout the year by the Friends of Conrad Weiser Homestead. Artisans in the Park (ArtisansInThePark.com) will also be at Ephrata Cloister in
Ephrata, Lancaster County, on June 29 and back at Conrad Weiser Homestead in late September.

 

Visitors exploring the nature trail at Bushy Run Battlefield led by volunteers Bob Learzaf and Dave Browning during the 2018 Spring Nature Walk.

Visitors exploring the nature trail at Bushy Run Battlefield led by volunteers Bob Learzaf and Dave Browning during the 2018 Spring Nature Walk.
Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society

Nature Trails and Spring Gardens

Mother’s Day weekend will be a busy time on the Pennsylvania Trails of History. Spring Nature Walk at Bushy Run Battlefield (bushyrunbattlefield.com) in Jeannette, Westmoreland County, on May 11 from 10 a.m. to noon, will be led by knowledgeable local naturalists who have spent hours on the site. You’ll explore woodland trails to learn about western Pennsylvania native plants and animals, a fascinating complement to a historical tour of the battlefield and the visitor center exhibits. The program fee is $5, but it’s free for members of the Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society. No advance registration is required. Dress for the weather and wear sturdy, comfortable shoes.

For those ready to start their springtime planting, Old Economy Village (oldeconomyvillage.org) in Ambridge, Beaver County, will host its annual Garden Mart from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 11, and Landis Valley’s Herb & Garden Faire runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 10 and 11. Both events feature heirloom plants grown by site staff and volunteers, as well as outside plant and garden vendors.

 

Boomtown Reopens

Wildcatter Day on June 8 at Historic Pithole in Venango County marks the opening of the summer season at the site of an 1860s oil region boomtown. Little is left of the buildings that sprang up and disappeared in the space of less than 20 years. Foundations are marked with identifying signage, and the grass is mowed to indicate the layout of the streets. On weekends in the summer, the 1960s visitor center is open (don’t miss the large diorama showing Pithole in its heyday) and tours are offered. Pithole operates under the supervision of Drake Well Museum & Park (drakewell.org) and its friends group.

 

Italian Fest

Over the past few years, Eckley Miners’ Village (eckleyminersvillage.com) near Hazleton, Luzerne County, has begun focusing its annual Patch Town Days event on the various ethnic groups that immigrated to the anthracite coal region. This summer’s event, June 22–23, will highlight the Italian families who lived in Eckley and worked in the mines, breakers and homes in and around this typical coal company town. The village’s homes, churches, company store and visitor center will be open, and staff and volunteers in period clothing will reenact the lives and contributions of the miners and their families. Admission is charged, and activities run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

 

Amy Killpatrick Fox is a museum educator in PHMC’s Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums. She writes a weekly blog also called Trailheads at patrailheads.blogspot.com.