The Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, part of the Senator John Heinz History Center, is located in Avella, Pennsylvania. This National Historic Landmark features a massive 16,000 year-old rock overhang once used as a shelter for some of our earliest ancestors. The Rockshelter site is the oldest documented archaeological site in North America.
“Meadowcroft serves over 15,000 visitors a year,” said John Boback, Director of Education at Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village. “Approximately 10,000 of those visitors are children on school field trips or Boy and Girl Scouts earning various badges and patches. Most of our visitors are from the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. We have seen a significant increase in the number of our visitors from Texas with the rise of the Marcellus Shell natural gas industry.”
In addition to the Rockshelter, Meadowcroft features three recreated outdoor interpretive areas. The Meadowcroft Village is a 19th century village highlighting rural life. Visitors can interact with staff members who dress like people for the late 1800s. The village includes a one-room schoolhouse, covered bridge, working blacksmith shop, church and several log cabins. The Frontier Trading Post is a 1770s-era dwelling that helps spotlight the similarities and differences between the everyday lives of European settlers and American Indians. The Prehistoric Indian Village is a recreated Monongahela Indian Village featuring a protective wooden palisade wall surrounding the village. Visitors can try their hand at using the atlatl, a type of prehistoric spear thrower, and tour the several re-created wigwams, which Indians used as homes.
Meadowcroft installed 22 of Pannier’s Plant Identifier exhibit bases along its walking loop trail, which is part of the Prehistoric Indian Village. The trail starts near the entrance to the Indian village, loops through a nearby mature forest, and re-enters the village on the opposite side. The trail helps visitors understand what the Indians looked for in the forest. The forest served as their grocery store, pharmacy and hardware store. The exhibit bases identify the plants and explain how the Indians used the plants.
Boback, the Director of Education, photographed all the plant images and composed the text for each sign. The panels were then designed by the exhibit design team at the Heinz History Center to be displayed on Pannier’s Fiberglass embedded panels. Pannier panels were perfect for the outdoor walking trail thanks to their superior durability and ability to withstand elements of the weather and vandalism. Pannier exhibit bases and frames are constructed of high strength aluminum. Rust will never be a problem; these frames can live maintenance free wherever you install them for generations to come.
“Creating the signs for Meadowcroft Museum’s nature trail was the first time that I had worked with Pannier Graphics,” said Boback. “From my first telephone inquiry to the delivery of our signs, I found working with Pannier to be a very smooth and professional experience. The fact that Pannier’s panels and frames meet National Park Service standards sold me on their product.”
Pannier was excited to work with the Meadowcroft Museum, especially since several staff members visited Meadowcroft as they were growing up. We are proud of the exhibit bases and signs that we provided to Meadowcroft, and we stand behind the quality and reliability of all our products. Thank you to Meadowcroft Museum, and John Boback, for the opportunity to lend a helping hand in the interpretation of a local resource.