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6 museums offer free admission to 'Community Day' Sunday

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

For the first time since the Ligonier Valley Rail Road's last run in 1952, a train will be making at stop at the Darlington Station — a trackless train that is, named “Timothy the Train.”

The children's train ride provided by CMC Express of Pittsburgh will be offering rides around the station 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday as part of the museum's Community Day celebration.

“I know the kids will like the train ride, said Bill Potthoff president of the museum's board of directors. “We were looking for a steam train and discovered a trackless train ride at the Derry Rail Road Days.”

Potthoff said he hopes the 1905 bobber caboose will also be ready to tour. Currently under restoration, the red caboose still needs some work completed on the platform so the children can climb onboard safely.

“The caboose is always a kid magnet for us,” said Potthoff.

Last year the museum had 150 visitors for Community Day. This year Potthoff expects to see more people stopping to visit the restored Darlington Station museum.

“Coming from the west of Ligonier, people will stop at the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum first and then stop to see us before they go on in to Ligonier,” said Potthoff.

The railroad museum is one of six Ligonier area museums waiving the cost of admission for not just Ligonier Valley residents, but all visitors on Saturday.

“We hope that by providing free admission for all visitors that it will encourage local residents to invite their friends and family from out of the area to visit Ligonier and see our outstanding cultural and historic sites,” said Annie Urban executive director of Fort Ligonier and coordinator for the event.

The community day event started in 2008 for Ligonier's 250th commemoration with Fort Ligonier and Compass Inn providing free admission to their sites for Ligonier residents. This year it has grown to include six museums featuring a special program at each site.

Participants include Fort Ligonier, Compass Inn Museum, Ligonier Valley Rail Road Museum, Lincoln Highway Experience, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art and the Antiochian Heritage Museum.

Passport tickets with the location of all six museums will be distributed to visitors when they arrive at the first museum.

“At each museum, they will get their tickets stamped,” said Tina Yandrick director of operations for the Ligonier Valley Historical Society. “Once they get three stamps they can deposit the ticket at one of the sites for a chance to win a prize.”

Lincoln Highway Experience Museum

This is the first year that the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum will participate in the event. The museum, located on the Lincoln Highway at the Johnston House across from the Kingston Bridge, will promote the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Highway with a festival 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

“Here at the Lincoln Highway Experience, we see Community Day as an opportunity to encourage some of the 8,500 vehicles that pass us by each day to stop in,” said Olga Herbert executive director of the Lincoln Highway Corridor.

Cece Otto, who is celebrating 100 years of music and travel along the Lincoln Highway by traveling through 14 states, will be performing a singing travelogue in period dress at the museum.

Jim Smith of Greensburg will be performing a tattoo on a drum that belonged to Civil War drummer boy Peter Guibert. At the age of 70 in 1913, Guibert walked from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg playing his drum. Smith will be at the museum Sunday to talk about his trek to retrace the Yankee drummer's footsteps on May 26.

Author Brian Butko will be autographing his books about the Lincoln Highway noon to 2 p.m. Sunday. The museum will also feature eight juried artisans demonstrating crafts outside.

Compass Inn Museum

Costumed docents will offer tours of the historic 1790 Compass Inn in Laughlintown 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. There will be demonstrations at the blacksmith shop, and visitors may tour the reconstructed cookhouse, barn and carpenter's shop on the museum grounds.

Southern Alleghenies Museum

The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art on Boucher Lane in Ligonier will exhibit a number of works from nationally acclaimed artists 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. They will also have a number of fun activities including a scavenger hunt and puzzles related to the exhibition for children and families to participate in during their visit.

“We look forward to participating in another Community Day. It's one of my favorite events in the Valley,” said Sommer Toffle, SAMA-Ligonier Valley site coordinator. “Guests also are invited to walk through our beautiful gardens.”

Fort Ligonier

The fort will present “Colonial Culture, Customs & Craftsmen,” featuring blacksmithing demonstrations and bread baking in the field ovens 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Costumed British officers will be on hand to greet visitors and there will be special activities for children throughout the day.

Antiochian Heritage Museum

The Antiochian Heritage Museum's new exhibit “Sacred Illuminations” and “Titanic Connections” will be featured 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Artwork inspired by Slavic and Byzantine illumniated manuscripts will be on display. The Titantic exhibit, extended for another year, allows visitors to explore passenger stories and try a mini Cold Plunge. Homemade Bulgarian banitsa will be served.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or