Photo Credit:PA Military Museum
Happy Valley is a history buff’s delight as there are plenty of historical locations to explore that represent many different cultural periods. You will be delighted by the amount of interesting exhibits and interaction you can have when you visit these sites.
Here are five spots you will want to stop at when exploring the history of Central Pennsylvania.
Centre Furnace Mansion (Map)
Now home to the Centre County Historical Society, the Centre Furnace Mansion housed ironmaster Moses Thompson and his family from 1842 to 1891.
The site represents a small portion of the 18th century iron village that was once located on the area. Thompson, along with his brother-in-law James Irvin, were instrumental in selecting the site for the eventual campus of Penn State.
Mansion tours are free, although a $4 donation is suggested. Tour times are 1-4p.m. on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The mansion is located at the corner of Porter Rd and E. College Ave, just down the street from the Hilton Garden Inn.(Website)
Pennsylvania Military Museum (Map)
When you visit the Pennsylvania Military Museum, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the stories of commonwealth citizens who bravely defended our country as well as view artifacts from past battles.
Among some of the displays you will have a chance to see include a M4A1 Sherman Tank and two memorial walls with the names of soldiers from World War I and World War II.
Depending on when you visit, you could be in for a treat. The museum is known for its elaborate reenactments of past wars including the Vietnam War and World War II.
The museum holds about two to three regular events per month. Normally on weekends, events range from military film marathons, lectures and educational children’s events.
For more information, visit the website here.
Rockhill Trolley Museum (Map)
Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine life and how we would get around without cars and our highway system. But when you visit the Rockhill Trolley Museum, you don’t need to imagine; you can see for yourself. Explore vintage trolley cars and learn about what traveling around Central Pennsylvania was like in the early 1900s.
Trolley tours cost $7 for adults and $4 for children. The tour itself will take you on a leisurely ride throughout the scenic countryside and you will learn about certain key locations including the location of the former Rockhill Iron Company.
The Rockhill Trolley Museum’s normal operating schedule is Saturdays and Sundays, beginning Memorial Day weekend and lasting through October.
The museum is located in Rockhill Furnace, about an hour and 20 minute drive from State College.
Fort Roberdeau Historic Site (Map)
Visit Fort Roberdeau in Altoona and take a trip back to colonial times.
At Fort Roberdeau, you will learn the story of how the fort played a crucial role in the early days of the United States and the Revolutionary War.
The fort will open to the public on May 1 and remain open until October 31. Tour hours are 11 am—5pm Tuesday through Friday and 1 pm—5 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum & Horseshoe Curve (Map)
The railroad was an integral part of the growth of our country, and one of the most pivotal areas for railroad development was in Altoona. The city’s location at the foot of the Allegheny made it a key cog in the early railroad operations.
At the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, this tradition and history of the town’s railroading legacy has been preserved for years to come.
When you visit the world-famous Horseshoe Curve, a ride on the Funicular is a must. The Funicular is an incline plane that takes you from the visitors center to the train tracks of the Horseshoe Curve. If you’d rather walk, there are steps that can take you to the top.
Opened for rail traffic in 1854, the Horseshoe Curve is said to be one of the most incredible engineering feats in the world.
Other Notable Spots to Visit
Elk Scenic Drive
The Elk Scenic Drive is located just off I-80 in north central PA. Even if you don’t see an elk, you will enjoy driving through one of the most beautiful parts of the state. Get more information here.
Bald Eagle Watching
Witness these majestic birds out in their true habitats. The best bet to get a glimpse at an Eagle is to head to Pine Creek, a popular fishing destination located near the west branch of the Susquehanna River. Along this area is a cluster of Eagle nests. Get more information here.
Seldom Seen Coal Mine
The Seldom Seen Coal Mine represents a complete coal mining site that is still intact. Visitors will be able to fully comprehend the nature of the coal mining industry by entering the mine and checking out all the equipment that is used. More information is available here.
Visit Lion Country Lodging – Website to make a reservation
Carnegie Inn & Spa - (814) 234-2424
100 Cricklewood Drive State College, PA 16803
Days Inn Penn State - (814) 238-8454
240 S. Pugh Street State College, PA 16801
Hilton Garden Inn - (814)-272-1221
1221 East College Avenue State College, PA 16801
Nittany Budget Motel - (814) 238-0015
2070 Cato Avenue State College, PA 16801
Quality Inn State College - (814) 234-1600
1274 North Atherton Street State College, PA 16803
Super 8 - (814) 237-8005
1663 S. Atherton St State College, PA 16801