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.

As summer turns to fall and you start to wonder where the time went, rest assured that the Pennsylvania Trails of History still have much to offer before 2014 winds down. Take some time to explore your favorite site – or make a first visit – and see if the pace doesn’t slow just a bit. Between changing exhibits, special events and our regular offerings, it isn’t difficult to find something of interest.


Changing Exhibits

Vietnam Remembered
Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg
through November

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to exercise military force to assist any member state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, this exhibit features artifacts donated to the museum by soldiers who served in Vietnam. These items reflect a range of military experiences, from receiving a draft notice to encountering North Vietnamese fighters to traveling home after a tour of duty.

Lloyd McCaffery Collection: Miniature Figureheads of the U.S. Navy
Erie Maritime Museum, Erie
through December

This exhibit features 41 carved figureheads from U.S. Navy ships, including USS Delaware, USS Lancaster and USS North Carolina, produced at a scale of 1:48. Ship modeler Lloyd McCaffery conducted extensive documentary and image research on each piece to ensure that his boxwood carvings would have a high degree of accuracy.

The Holy Experiment:Violet Oakley Mural Studies
Pennsbury Manor, Morrisville
through December

In conjunction with its 75th anniversary celebration, Pennsbury Manor is featuring an exhibit of oil paintings by artist Violet Oakley (1874-1961). Oakley produced the paintings as studies for a series of murals commissioned in 1902 for the Governor’s Reception Room in the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg. She focused the murals on the founding of Pennsylvania and William Penn’s vision of religious tolerance and individual liberty. The preliminary studies were presented to the Capitol Building Commission for approval before work on the full-size murals began. Oakley, the first woman in the United States to receive a major commission for public art for a state capitol, was subsequently asked to produce murals for the Capitol’s Senate and Supreme Court chambers, ultimately creating 43 murals for the building.

The Hardcoal Chronicles 40th Anniversary, 1973-2013
Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
through June 30, 2015

Photographer Scott D. Herring has spent the past 40 years documenting the rich culture and history of northeastern Pennsylvania, where he is known as “the last anthracite photographer.” This new exhibit features selected photos from the more than 162,000 he has produced in his effort to preserve images of life in the anthracite region.

A First Class Restaurant on Wheels: The Story of the Railroad Dining Car
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg
through December

By 1868 the Pullman Palace Car Company had constructed the first railroad dining car, and by the end of the 19th century the golden age of American rail travel had begun. The experience of dining by rail was a highlight for many passengers, who enjoyed fine cuisine served on signature china. The exhibit features numerous examples of railroad china, silver and glassware, along with advertisements, menus and photos of the dining car crews who made it all work.

Chairs, Chairs, Chairs! Handcrafted Traditions from Rural Pennsylvania, 1750-1875
Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Lancaster
through December

Landis Valley’s 2014 changing exhibit fetures chairs from the museum’s collection and others on loan from private collections. The exhibit explores various furniture styles, highlighting several local artisans. In addition to chairs the exhibit includes tools and advertisements, providing context for the main attractions. Chairs is the latest installment in the museum’s exhibit series using cases that provide 360-degree views of objects. The first was The Golden Age of an American Art Form: The Lancaster Long Rifle, which recently received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.


Special Events

Drake Well by Moonlight
Drake Well Museum
October 4

A rare nighttime tour of the museum and park, this event is complete with historical characters, seasonal food and period music.

56th Annual Harvest Days
Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
October 11 and 12

The site’s oldest and largest family event, Harvest Days features craft and trade demonstrations (including plowing and open hearth cooking), horse-drawn wagon rides, apple butter and cider, a chance to select and decorate a pumpkin, live music and more.

Night of the Great Pumpkin
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
October 17

Families can enjoy face painting, crafts activities and Halloween fun in conjunction with Harrisburg’s 3rd in the Burg for October.

Bonfire at the Iron Furnaces
Scranton Iron Furnaces
October 18

This is a wonderful opportunity to experience the historic furnaces at night and sample foods, music and crafts of Scranton’s many ethnic communities.

Haunted Moonlight Tours
Graeme Park
October 24

Visitors can tour the Keith House, home of Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson, to hear legends and stories about her lingering presence in the house.

Whitemarsh Encampment
Hope Lodge
November 1-2

Reenactors, sutlers and visitors look back at November and December of 1777, when Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army were encamped in the nearby Whitemarsh Hills.

Holly Nights
Pennsbury Manor
December 4-5

Crackling bonfires, carolers, candlelight tours of the Manor House and demonstrations of 17th-century crafts are all part of this perennial favorite.

19th Annual Christmas at Cornwall House Tour
December 6

Tour private homes in the Cornwall/Lebanon area, many of them with connections to the historic iron furnace, which should also be part of your tour.

Home for the Holidays
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
December 6 and 13

Visitors can take a nostalgic glimpse at holiday rail travel; meet costumed engineers, conductors, ticket agents and passengers representing the past century; enjoy seasonal music and festive decorations among a world-class collection of trains; and send a personal telegram to the North Pole.

Christmas at the Village
Old Economy Village
December 13-14

Candles and lanterns light the cobblestone street as visitors tour the historic buildings, shop for handcrafted items and enjoy German food.

Reenactment of the Christmas Crossing
Washington Crossing Historic Park
December 25

A tradition for more than 60 years, this event commemorates Christmas night in 1776, when Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the icy Delaware River to attack Hessian troops holding Trenton, New Jersey.


Amy Killpatrick Fox is a museum educator based in PHMC’s Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, supporting education, interpretation and communications bureauwide and at individual historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History. She writes an informative and entertaining weekly blog entitled Trailheads.