PALMYRA TWP. (Pike) - Saturday, April 22 promises to be a full and rich day for anyone who loves finding out about the history of Wayne and Pike counties, Pa., and the organizations that are dedicated to research, preserve and educate its story.
Not one but two special events are planned, one following the other.
Both events are free to the public. They were subjects of discussion at the Thomas H. Kennedy Local Roundtable meeting, held March 17th at the Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center.
The 2017 Thomas Kennedy Local History Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Dorflinger Factory Museum, Route 6 in White Mills. This event brings together many of the non-profit historical societies and other groups that in some way highlight some aspect of the local heritage, with display tables and a keynote speaker.
It just so happened that this year, the Festival came together on the same date as the annual Open House at the Wayne County Historical Society (WCHS) at the main museum at 810 Main St., Honesdale, held from 5 to 7 p.m.
Local History Festival
Juan Espino has been coordinating the April 22nd Local History Festival.
He announced that they will have a morning speaker, Dr. S. Robert Powell, Executive Director of the Carbondale Historical Society. He will be discussing the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC), which operated a gravity railroad to take coal from the mines at Port Griffith near Pittston) to Hawley. The PCC gravity railroad operated from 1850 to 1885.
Powell has produced a series of compact discs discussing the history of the D&H gravity railroad and the PCC gravity system.
He will be speaking in the Conference Room at the Dorflinger Factory Museum from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Participating local history societies and other organizations promoting the local heritage are being offered exhibit space.
Espino recommended that each group bring some special artifact that symbolizes their focus or region, for display and to generate interest. The groups will have opportunity to tell the public about what they offer, to answer questions and offer books or other items for sale.
This is a change in location. In past years the Local History Festival was held at the Hawley Silk Mill, but there is currently less room to hold it there due to more of the retail spaces being rented, said James Asselstine, chairman of the Thomas H. Kennedy Local Roundtable.
With approximately 32 by 100 feet of floor space, the Factory Museum offers a lot of room for this event, he said.
The Dorflinger Factory Museum features displays showing how the workers at the Dorflinger factory ground, polished and cut the glassware, and a rich variety of the glass pieces made at the factory complex between 1865 and 1921.
There is ample parking in back of the Factory Museum; enter from Charles Street.
The Local History Festival and the Local History Roundtable were named in memory of Thomas H. Kennedy, an area historian and educator, who started both initiatives.
WCHS Open House
Carol H. Dunn, WCHS Executive Director, pointed out that this Open House is extra special, since it helps to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their organization. This includes, in part, the opening of a special exhibit that day, “History of Wayne County, Pennsylvania in 100 Objects.” The exhibit is executed to stay up for a couple years. The Society also hopes to have available a special book on the history of the organization, at the Open House.
Refreshments will be available.
Also coming up is a day-long symposium about Wayne County history and the centennial history of the WCHS, to be held Saturday, June 24, again at the Dorflnger Factory Museum.
Also discussed at the Roundtable was the second edition of the “Local History Past-Port.”
This year, 16 historical societies and other organizations promoting the heritage are participating; there were 15 in 2016. Each group has one page- in some cases two- to highlight what they are about and what they offer, their location, hours of operation, admission price (if any) and contact information. A map and index are included.
Like a passport, participants take the booklet to have stamped once they visit a location. If they visit all or most of the locations and have the organization apply their special stamp, the participant is eligible for a prize.
At the Roundtable meeting they discussed how this will work, refining the project from last year.
An application is being made for another grant from the local Hotel Tax Board. The Wayne County Commissioners must approve of the distribution of the annual lodging tax revenue, to organizations that help promote tourism. Last year, the booklet was funded by the Hotel Tax grant and donations from the participating organizations promoting local history.
They hope to print another 5,000 booklets. Each of the groups were asked to provide three prize gifts, which will be maintained at the Lake Wallenpaupack Visitors Center by the Center’s manager, Keith Williams. When they get their booklets stamped they can come to the Visitors Center and choose a prize. Williams hopes to have pictures taken of the winners, to help promote the project.
Williams said that, similar to the popular game, geo-caching, families should be able to enjoy stopping at historical society museums and sites, and getting their booklets stamped. It was suggested to gave prizes that appeal to youngsters, such as a medallion. Other prizes might be a local history book or other souvenir. Espino advised that it be particular to that organization.
The Thomas H. Kennedy Local History Roundtable is an opportunity for these organizations to come together and share ideas and find ways to help promote each other. They meet quarterly at different locations hosted by one of the organizations.
This time it was the Wallenpaupack Historical Society (WHS) that welcomed them. Jon Tandy, Secretary of the WHS, discussed a carbon-14 dating project that was done with the old canoe on display at the Environmental Learning Center.