Share This Page

Bushy Run volunteers keep battlefield's traditions alive, including hay-ride

For more than a dozen years, Bushy Run Battlefield has offered a "Haunted History Hayride" each October. This year will be no exception, even though the site now is run strictly by volunteers who did not want the facility close due to state budget cuts.

With state budget problems having affected historical sites, the Penn Township museum's director has been transferred, and only two maintenance workers and volunteers remain. But that will not stop special events, which primarily were run by volunteers anyway, said Kelly Ruoff, Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society treasurer.

The Haunted History Hayride is being held on Oct. 24 and can accommodate up to 300 people on hay-ride tours of the battlefield trail. Guides on the wagons speak with reenactors to tell the area's history. Visitors can go inside the museum that night to hear a storyteller. The hayride is traditionally a sellout, Ruoff said. By early October, tickets for only a few of the night's rides remained.

Since early September, the museum's day-to-day operations have been staffed solely by volunteers, trained by society members.

Volunteer and naturalist George Heasley held his annual fall nature walk on Oct. 3. Another walk is typically held in the spring, Ruoff said.

While volunteers for years have served as guides and worked special events, running the museum and visitor center typically was done by paid employees.

"It's been working out beautifully," said Jean Loughry, society president. "We just made out the schedule and we have the hours all covered for the month of October. We have quite a few volunteers for the Haunted Hayride. It takes a lot of personnel."

The museum closes on Nov. 1 and will reopen on April 1.

Volunteers have been able to keep the museum's Clash of Cultures educational program, tailored for students in second through sixth grade, afloat. The program examines the life of a soldier in the Royal American Regiment and the life of an Ohio Valley American Indian on the changing Western frontier.

Students learn about how the men likely lived, what they ate and what clothing they wore.

"Instead of the educator doing that, volunteers are doing it," Ruoff said. "If schools want to book for next spring, that's fine."

The historical site, the only recognized American Indian battlefield in Pennsylvania, commemorates the victory of British troops over Indian forces in 1763, preventing Fort Pitt from being captured and opening up lines of communication between the East and the frontier.

The museum and visitor center's plight first became apparent in the spring, when the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission announced it would have to find a group to take over operations because of proposed budget cuts. The heritage society began raising money to take over.

The society is continuing to negotiate an agreement with the state to allow the group to permanently take over operation of the site, Loughry said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.