Trees to Honor Fallen Soldiers, Mark Sesquicentennial

The Civil War was largely fought on the 180-mile swath of land that stretches from Monticello to Gettysburg.  That’s the same area in which the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership wants to plant 620,000-trees; one in honor of each soldier who died in the Civil War.  “And [we’ll] do so by creating a more beautiful place in what was otherwise the largest concentration of battlefields in the country,” partnership president Cate Magennis Wyatt tells Radio PA.    

A special tree-planting ceremony is scheduled to take place on the campus of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg on Tuesday, where a battlefield Witness Tree will be dedicated and two Living Legacy Trees will be planted.  Wyatt says it’s the second major ceremony of the Living Legacy Project, which was established to mark the Sesquicentennial. 

The planting and the fundraising will continue over the next few years, as the partnership seeks to raise $65-million dollars for the project.  “We’re raising $100-dollars to honor each of the 620,000 men who died, and that is nothing.  It’s quite achievable,” Wyatt says of the task that lies ahead.

What’s Blue and Gold, and Read All Over?

You can help put Pennsylvania history on display, as the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is looking for nominations for its historical marker program.  Pennsylvania’s landscape is dotted with more than 2,600 of those familiar blue and gold markers, and program coordinator Karen Galle doesn’t expect to run out of qualified nominees anytime soon.  “Every year there’s something new that comes in that’s really intriguing and something that’s a little known fact but very significant,” Galle tells Radio PA.

This year’s application deadline is September 1st, and Galle says each one is judged on its own merits by a rotating panel of Pennsylvania historians.  “The main thing is that the subject has statewide and/or national historical significance, rather than local or regional.”  About 30% of the nominees make the cut on any given year.    

That subject can be a person, place, event or innovation.  For instance, the list of last year’s approved markers includes: the nation’s oldest natural sciences research institution, the birthplace of commercial ice cream in York County and several high-profile architects.    

Applicants or sponsoring organizations are responsible for the cost of making and installing the historical markers.  That could run from $1,400 – $1,875.

Beer Lovers, Break Out Your Checkbooks

Breweriana collectors from across the country are converging on Lancaster County this Friday and Saturday for a one-of-a-kind auction.  Beer taps, beer signs and beer glasses will all be up for bid… but beer cans are the big draw.  “There’s a number of cans in there that are expected to bring $10, $20, $30 thousand dollars plus,” says Dan Morphy, CEO of Morphy Auctions in Denver, PA.  “Nothing like this has ever hit the auction block before publicly.” 

The 4,000 item collection includes some 500 empty beer cans.  Pictured above is lot #11 from Morphy Auctions’ online bid catalog.  It’s unique because it’s a group of cans; most will be sold individually.   

“The highlight of this sale is a Gibbons Bock beer can, which is one of three known, but it’s also the best example known,” Morphy says.  Its presale estimate is $30 – $50 thousand dollars. 

In all, Morphy estimates the entire collection will fetch $1.5 – $2 million dollars.  “Generally speaking, I’d say the entire market is off 20 – 30% but the best of the best, the rarest of the rare still brings a premium.” 

And that’s what this collection provides.  It’s being sold by Chicago businessman Adolf Grenke, and Morphy says that if it isn’t in pristine condition, Grenke doesn’t own it.

Hiking, River, Trees, Overlook, Nature

Appalachian Trail Turns 75 on Tuesday

There was no precedent for the Appalachian Trail in 1921, when Benton MacKaye dreamed it up as a wilderness refuge for people in the big cities of the eastern United States.  The first section was constructed in 1922, and the entire trail was completed on August 14th, 1937.

Spanning 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine, the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail is in Cumberland County, PA.  That’s where you’ll find the Appalachian Trail Museum tucked away inside the Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  The museum is dedicated to preserving the trail’s history and sharing its stories.

A tribute to the trail’s founders is currently on display, including the typewriter Benton MacKaye used to write the initial article about the trail, and the bicycle wheel that Myron Avery used to measure the distance between the trail’s landmarks.

Back in 1937 it was hard to imagine somebody hiking the entire trail.  “It was seen as being practically endless,” says Appalachian Trail Museum president Larry Luxenberg.  “But you build it and they’ll come.”

It was more than a decade later that Pennsylvanian Earl Shaffer became the trail’s first thru-hiker.  “In 1948 he took to the trail and in four months completed the whole trail, and blazed a path for thousands of people to follow ever since,” explains Luxenberg.  Shaffer lived his entire life in York and Adams counties.

About 1,800 to 2,000 people attempt a “thru-hike” every year, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.  About one in four completes the journey, which takes an average of six months.

Luxenberg was among the special guest speakers at the Appalachian Trail 75th Anniversary Weekend Celebration, which took place in Harper’s Ferry, WV.

Harrisburg’s Wild West Artifacts Headed for Auction Block

The city of Harrisburg may not epitomize a the idea of a frontier town, but former Mayor Stephen Reed amassed thousands of wild west artifacts and antiques for a never-built Wild West Museum.  The city’s new administration is now pulling those items out of storage in anticipation of a high-profile auction this summer. 

President of New York-based Guernsey’s Auctioneers Arlan Ettinger says he’s humbled to have been chosen for the project.  “This is not liquidation, but an offering of treasured items that we’re quite certain will bring in substantial amounts of money,” Ettinger said at a special media preview last week.  But analysts don’t expect the city to recoup the $7.8-million reportedly spent to acquire the artifacts. 

The auction is expected to take place over the course of eight days in mid-July.  “This will be a major event for the city of Harrisburg, and it will have various venues around the city, with the potential to draw thousands of people to our great city,” says current Mayor Linda Thompson.  Details are still being finalized.   

While the items are still in the process of being cataloged, Ettinger expects at least 8,000 lots to span ten categories.  Two of the items sure to attract collectors’ attention are Doc Holliday’s dental kit and Wild Bill Hickok’s gun.  Mayor Thompson says the net proceeds will be used to pay down the cash-strapped capital city’s debt.

Philly Museum Marks 200 Years of Discovery

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

"Discovering Dinosaurs" is one of the museum's most popular exhibits.

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is the nation’s oldest natural history museum, and it turns 200 next month.  The Academy will mark its yearlong bicentennial celebration with a major new exhibition to open on March 24th.  “We’re going to use the exhibit to celebrate the groundbreaking discoveries that scientists have uncovered here both in the past and present, and provide a little glimpse into what our third century will be as one of the great natural history museums in the world,” says Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Sara Hertz. 

The exhibition will be called The Academy at 200: The Nature of Discovery

A group of amateur naturalists founded the Academy of Natural Sciences back on March 21st, 1812, but many professional scientific disciplines got their start there.  For instance ornithology (the study of birds) and entomology (the study of insects) both began in Philadelphia. 

“Over the course of 200 years, the Academy has had an extraordinary arrange of people associated with it,” says Senior Fellow Robert Peck.  “They run the gamut from Henry David Thoreau to Earnest Hemingway, who did some collecting for the Academy in the 1930s.  The real James Bond, from whom Ian Flemming stole the name, was a curator of ornithology here for a period of about 40-years.”

It boasts a collection of nearly 18-million plant and animal specimens that’s described as library of life on earth, and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University welcomes nearly 200,000 visitors a year.   

(photo credits: ANSP/Will Klein)

Update of Pennsylvania’s Comprehensive Preservation Plan Could Include Your Photo

The state is in the process of updating its comprehensive preservation plan and wants to see what you think is important to Pennsylvania’s history.    The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is inviting you to share photos of historic places to illustrate the updated plan.  The photos are being displayed on line and some will be included in the official plan.

Scott Doyle, Division manager for Grants and Historic Markers, says it could be a building that’s restored, that’s threatened or needs preservation.  It could be an archaeological resource, a streetscape or a rural landscape.

 Doyle says since this is a plan for all of Pennsylvania and for Pennsylvanians who value their historic resources, they want the public to submit photos of what they value.

All you need to do is take a photograph and email it to  He says they will review the photo and upload it to their Flickr account. Some photos will be selected for the comprehensive plan.

Doyle says you can learn more at the commission’s web site,  

While you can submit photos through the end of the year, there is a deadline of October 31st if you want a chance to have your photo included in the plan.

Doyle says even if you don’t have a photo to submit, please visit the flicker site to see what people have submitted,

Doyle says the photos are broken down on the website by region. He hopes the “This is My History” photo campaign will also engage people who generally are not involved in historic preservation or archaeological  preservation to take an interest in it and share their thoughts.

Library of Congress Exhibit Rolls into PA

The Library of Congress “Gateway to Knowledge” exhibition arrived in Uniontown, PA via self-contained tractor trailer.  The XL trailer expands to three times its road size to provide a first rate museum experience.  “We’re introducing people – or reintroducing them – to some of the resources that are available at the Library of Congress,” says traveling docent Abigail Van Gelder.  “The displays inside use graphic panels and graphic reproductions to get deeper into what’s in some of the collection.” 

Van Gelder spoke with Radio PA via telephone from Uniontown where the exhibition is stationed through Saturday.  Then, it’s off to Lancaster for a stopover on Tuesday and Wednesday.  These are the only two Pennsylvania stops on the big rig’s itinerary.  Van Gelder says they’ve spent the past year down South and in the Midwest.  This begins their tour of America’s East. 

Spider Man - 1962

Spider Man first appeared in Marvel Comics in 1962. A reproduction is on display inside the Gateway to Knowledge exhibition.

Some of the more popular reproductions and displays include the 1455 Gutenberg Bible and Thomas Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence.  “Something our younger visitors really enjoy learning about is the Library’s comic book collection, and especially the original drawings of Spider Man,” Van Gelder says. 

The Library of Congress has some 20-million items digitized and available for the public to view online.  “So many people don’t realize how easy it is to access [the Library of Congress] and how easy it is for you to use.”

(photo credits: Library of Congress)