Join the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) in celebrating the commonwealth’s 336th birthday on Charter Day, Sunday, March 12, with free admission to many of the historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History.

Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to William Penn in 1681. Once each year the Pennsylvania State Archives exhibits the original document, for a limited time, at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. For the remainder of the year the Charter is safeguarded in a special vault within the Archives.

In addition to the Charter, the Archives will also display the original Great Law, passed between December 4 and 7, 1682, during the General Assembly’s very first session.

The Great Law is a series of statutes that provided a stable groundwork for Pennsylvania’s representative government. Among other things, it addressed elections and taxation, and it guaranteed a greater degree of religious freedom than any other legal code of its day. Like the Charter, the Great Law is fragile and rarely displayed. It is on view this year in honor of the 335th anniversary of the General Assembly.

Admission to The State Museum is free on Charter Day, Sunday, March 12, only, and includes visits to the Planetarium, the Curiosity Connection, and galleries. Free tickets are required for the Planetarium and the Curiosity Connection.

Additionally, State Museum Archaeologists will be talking about petroglyphs from 12:00 noon to 4:00 PM in Nature Lab. Petroglyphs are images carved into rock surfaces. These consist of lines, dots, human, animal, supernatural and symbolic designs and are a rare glimpse into the minds of ancient Native Americans.

The Pennsylvania Charter and Great Law will remain on display until 1:00 PM, Friday, March 17 at the Museum when the documents will be returned to the vault for another year.

In addition to programing at The State Museum, many historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History will offer free admission on Sunday, March 12.

Participating historic sites and museums include:

• Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
• Brandywine Battlefield Park, Chadds Ford
• Conrad Weiser Homestead, Womelsdorf
• Cornwall Iron Furnace, Cornwall
• Daniel Boone Homestead, Birdsboro
• Drake Well Museum, Titusville
• Eckley Miners’ Village, Weatherly
• Ephrata Cloister, Ephrata
• Erie Maritime Museum & Flagship Niagara, Erie
• Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh
• Graeme Park, Horsham
• Hope Lodge, Ft. Washington
• Joseph Priestley House, Northumberland
• Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Lancaster
• Pennsbury Manor, Morrisville
• Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, Ulysses
• Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg
• Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg
• Somerset Historical Center, Somerset

AND Next Year’s Categories Announced 

Thank you to everyone who took the time and effort to enter the contest. We enjoyed seeing all of the images (thousands) that were entered in this year’s contest. The judges have selected the following entrants’ images as this year’s winners.

Artistic Expression category winners are first, Edward Luczak, Glenshaw; second, Daniel Dibernardo, Lancaster; third, Bobbie Alexander, Collegeville; and honorable mentions: Paul W. Faust, Harrisburg; Paul Valerio, Irwin; Edward Luczak, Glenshaw; Carol Brightbill, Pottstown; and Mark Van Scyoc, Leola. These winning images appear in the July/August issue beginning on page 28.

Places category winners (appearing in the September/October 2016 issue) are first, Steven Waite, Morrisville; second, Cheryl White, Coatesville; third, Don Shenk, Lancaster; honorable mentions: Bill Sisson, Reedsville (appears in the July/August 2016  issue on pages 8-9); Phyllis Wimer, Lancaster; Elizabeth Pennock, State College; Michael Sharp, Port Matilda; Beverly Martin, Stevens; Rusty Glessner, State College; and Mary Ann Dailey, Pottstown.

Winners in the Wildlife category (appearing in the November/December 2016 issue) are first, Ruth Cosand, Pipersville; second, David Levandusky, Weissport; third, Steve Pensyl, Shamokin; honorable mentions: David Levandusky, Weiss-port; Melissa Pelczar, Landenberg (appears on page 50 in the July/August 2016  issue); Mike Vanino, Reading; Jimmy Marz, Erie; Terry Werneth, Meadville; Karen Link, Butler; Ronald Kauffman, York; and Ricardo F. Gilson, Meadville.

Next year’s categories will be Black & White, Wildlife and Scenics. Start shooting now. An entry form will appear on our website in early December.

Click a cover below to make it bigger.

July/August 2014, mails on July 2

July/August 2014, mails on July 2

May/June 2008 cover

Download the barn star brochure mentioned on page 5 of the November/December 2015 issue PRINTABLE BARN STAR BROCHURE (13MB file, may take some time to download)

This is a link for the article about the Pittsburgh steps that appears in the September/October 2015 issue.

Help survey the steps in Pittsburgh. See this LINK.

From a News Release:

nickel plate rr steamtown

(in addition to Steamtown NHS, there are other excursions in the state. See the Fort Wayne RR site)

Steamtown National Historic Site and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society will partner with Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam program to operate two special summer steam excursions!  Nickel Plate Road (NKP)  #765, a 2-8-4 Berkshire-type steam locomotive, owned by the Fort Wayne group, will operate on Saturday, September 5, to Delaware Water Gap, and on Monday, September 7, to East Stroudsburg.  NKP #765 is a “sister” locomotive to Steamtown’s NKP #759 locomotive, on static display inside the park’s Roundhouse.  Tickets will be sold online only, and sales are expected to open soon at

Located in downtown Scranton, Pa., Steamtown National Historic Site is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  From I-81 follow exit 185 (Central Scranton Expressway); then, follow the brown and white signs to the park entrance at Lackawanna and Cliff Avenues (GPS: N 41.41, W 75.67).  General park information is available by phoning (570) 340-5200 during regular business hours, or by visiting the Park website anytime at

As mentioned on page four of the May/June 2015 issue, here is the list of the sojourns in the state with links to the registration / more information pages on each event’s website.

Sojourns in Pennsylvania this spring / summer:

Pennsylvania Rail/Trail Sojourn, June 21-26:

Annual Swatara Float & Clean-up Trip,
May 2-3:

Alle-Kiski-Connie Rivers Sojourn, May 14-17:

Loyalhanna Sojourn, May 30:

Stony-Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers Sojourn, June 4-7:

Perkiomen Creek Sojourn, June 6:

Schuylkill River Sojourn, June 6-12:

Juniata River Sojourn, June 12-16:

West Branch Susquehanna River Sojourn (pedal and paddle), June 17-21:

French Creek Summer Solstice Sojourn,
June 20-21:

Schuylkill River Pedal and Paddle (one day, roundtrip events held throughout the summer):

Delaware River Sojourn, June 20-27 :

Lehigh River Sojourn, June 26-29:

Water Trails in Pennsylvania:

Click on the map to go to this site to order maps and find out more information about this program.

To download a copy of the book that is featured in the sidebar of the article about Earl Shaffer in the November/December 2014 issue, click this link: Trail Years – Appalachian Trail Conservancy

The new issue is full of interesting articles an events:

  • Historic holiday tours of the houses in Fairmount Park,
  • Philadelphia
  • A profile of Earl Shaffer, trail blazer of the Appalachian Trail
  • State Symbol photo contest winners
  • Photorealist Peter Maier
  • The unearthed Arabia steamboat on display in Pittsburgh
  • Holiday and winter event listings
  • A lure-collecting couple
  • Joe Frazier’s gym and upcoming statue
  • Christmas in Pittsburgh
  • and Great Depression era images from Alfred Watson