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Bell and History Days opens the 2008 Museum Season

PH CAP: For Bell and History Days, several sites along Catoctin Furnace Road, south or Thurmont, Maryland, are working together to share the history of the community that kept iron making active in this area from 1776 until 1903. This interesting log structure was once a collier's dwelling. Colliers, or charcoal workers, supplied the fuel for iron making at the Catoctin Furnace. Tours, living history demonstrations and other activities will also be presented at Catoctin Cottage, Harriet Chapel, and the Catoctin Iron Furnace historic site.

Bell and History Days opens the 2008 Museum Season

Frederick, MD- From the Mason-Dixon line to points as far south as Brunswick, Maryland, museums and historic sites all over Frederick County celebrate the opening of the new museum season with Bell and History Days on Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6, 2008. This annual, self-guided event opens with countywide ringing of bells at 10am on Saturday and concludes with the Bell and History Days Handbell Festival at the Basilica of the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on Sunday at 5:30pm. Throughout the two days, 27 sites, including some rarely seen historic structures, will be open with tours, exhibits, hands-on activities, living history demonstrations and period entertainments. Bell and History Days programs are free and open to the general public. The event is presented by the Frederick Historic Sites Consortium with support from the following sponsors: The Daughters of Charity, The Frederick News Post, Mount Saint Mary's University, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Event-goers are encouraged to participate in the Passport to History, which is an incentive program to promote museum visits during Bell and History Days. To participate, visitors collect stamps from at least four Bell and History Days program sites, one of which must be located in the City of Frederick. Completed passports are to be deposited with a participating museum before 4:00pm on Sunday, April 6. All who complete a passport will be rewarded with a 2008 Bell and History Days souvenir bell, and a chance to compete for one of six grand prizes. The prize drawing will occur on April 9 and winners will be notified by phone.
Highlights of the 2008 program include "Digging up the Past" archaeology programs at the Children's Museum of Rose Hill Manor, a chance to ring the Frederick County history bell while visiting the Key Memorial Chapel and the Francis Scott Key Monument at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, and a glimpse of early 19th century life for the "middling" classes at the Roger Brooke Taney House. New arrivals on the Frederick County museum scene are also participating in the weekend's activities. They include the new visitor center at Monocacy National Battlefield, where programs will explore how the railroad helped save Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. The American Red Cross Museum, which opened in the fall of 2007, joins Bell and History Days with children's activities relating the history of disaster preparedness in the U.S. and a chance to make personal disaster kits. A latecomer to the event (not included in the event brochure) is the Hood College History Museum, where docents will guide visitors through collections that showcase memorabilia dating to the college's founding in 1893. The Passport to History program guide gives detailed descriptions of the activities offered at each location. Participants may plan their own itineraries and visit as many or as few locations as desired.
This year's Bell and History Day activities give special focus to Emmitsburg and the Catoctin Furnace Community, where landmark anniversaries are commemorated, including the 200th anniversary of Mount Saint Mary's University and the approaching bicentennial of the arrival of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1809. Weekend highlights in Emmitsburg include an old fashioned trolley that will shuttle visitors to special tours and programs at the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes, the Mt. St. Mary's University Campus, the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park in Emmitsburg, a photographic exhibit at the Emmitsburg Branch library, and the site of the future Frederick County Fire and Rescue Museum, featuring historical characters and vintage fire apparatus. The trolley, like other Bell and History Days event features, is free of charge.
The year 2008 also marks the 175th anniversary of Harriet Chapel, the church that served the community that kept the Catoctin Furnace fired for 127 years. During the event, costumed guides will give tours of the church and 19th century treats will be offered in the parish hall. At the Catoctin Iron Furnace Historic Site living history interpreters will demonstrate green sand casting. Additionally two dwellings that housed laborers associated with the furnace operation will be open for tours during Bell and History Days. They are the Catoctin Cottage, now a property of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, and the Collier's Log House, owned by the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society. Together, these four sites will give a rare view of life when iron making was a leading industry in the area.
The event finale at 5:30pm on April 6 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, will be a handbell festival comprised eight local handbell choirs. The one-hour concert will begin at 5:30pm More than 100 ringers employing several hundred bells and chimes will perform solo and mass-ring selections. John Widmann, Music Director of Frederick Presbyterian Church and Frederick City Carillonneur, and Joche Wilmot, Music Director of Calvary United Methodist Church in Frederick, will conduct the mass selections. The beautiful and historic setting offers ample seating and plenty of parking is available. Everyone is invited and the concert is free of charge.
The Passport to History program guide for Bell and History Days is now available at the Frederick Visitor Center, 19 East Church Street, Frederick. They are also available at participating museums and the Mason Dixon Discovery Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. For information, call the Visitor Center at (301) 600-4047 or visit
The Frederick Historic Sites Consortium presents Bell and History Days to open the 2008 museum season, which continues through mid-December and concludes with the annual Museums by Candlelight tour on December 13, 2009.

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