AVELLA -Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, the oldest site of human habitation in North America, will kick off its 2012 season, beginning at noon today.
The National Historic Landmark features a massive, 16,000-year-old rock overhang used by the region's earliest inhabitants for shelter and a historic village, which recreates an Upper Ohio Valley village from the mid-19th century. A recently completed 16th century Indian village demonstrates what life was like for the Eastern Woodland Indians.
Throughout this spring, Meadowcroft will finalize construction of two new 1770s-era structures that will highlight the similarities and differences between the everyday lives of European settlers and American Indians in the Upper Ohio Valley. An open-sided log shelter will represent the initial home and trading post of European settlers, while a log cabin will show how late 18th century American Indian families adopted European building techniques.
Andrew Donovan demonstrated 19th century blacksmithing at the Meadowcroft Museum of Rural Life and Rockshelter as part of the 2011 Washington and Greene Counties Covered Bridge Festival, including a discussion on the difference in carbon levels between cast iron and wrought iron. Admission is free to the museum during the annual festival held in September. -- Summer Wallace-Minger
Also new this year, a self-guided trail with informational signs on the Meadowcroft property will provide visitors with a new walking trail loop through the woods. Visitors will learn how the forest served as the supermarket, pharmacy and clothing store to American Indians. Visitors will learn how poplar trees were used by American Indians to make dugout canoes, or how the Iroquois believed that plants like the maple-leaved viburnum offered special protection against curses and sorcery.
A variety of special events highlight the 2012 schedule:
Atlatl Competition, June 16-17. Visitors can try their hand using the atlatl, a spear-thrower used by prehistoric hunters. This two-day contest, for all ages, genders, and skill levels is free to enter with Meadowcroft admission.
Independence Day Celebration, July 4. Meadowcroft will celebrate the spirit of 19th century rural America with old-fashioned summer games, open-hearth cooking demonstrations, and a pie-eating contest on the Fourth of July.
American Indian Heritage Weekend, Sept. 22-23. Native artisans will dress like their ancestors as they demonstrate skills of everyday life. Visitors can also explore the interior of a wigwam, inspect recreated prehistoric artifacts, learn about American Indian agriculture and try their hand using an atlatl, a prehistoric spear thrower.
Insider Tours of Meadowcroft Rockshelter. On select dates throughout the 2012 season, visitors can enjoy Insider Tours with James M. Adovasio, Ph.D., who achieved international acclaim with his archeological excavation of the Rockshelter in 1973. Adovasio will present a lecture and lead a special tour on the site on June 30, Oct. 6 and Nov. 3. For reservations, contact Frances Skariot at (724) 587-3412 or email@example.com.
Throughout May, Meadowcroft is open noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Meadowcroft is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens and $5 for children ages 6-17. Children under 6 and History Center members get in free.
Meadowcroft, which is part of the Senator John Heinz History Center's museum system, welcomed more than 15,000 visitors from 35 U.S. states and 12 countries last year.
For more information on Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, please visit www.heinzhistorycenter.org and click on the Meadowcroft tab or call (724) 587-3412.