Here is a collection of topical articles and personal essays by Robin Van Auken.

Solo Camping as a Writing Retreat

I spent a week solo camping, as a way to kick start my writing this summer. I viewed solo camping as a "Writing Retreat." My Constant Companion: Chubbers, an Australian Shepherd-Husky Mix. Confession: I wasn't alone. I brought my constant companion, my dog, Chubbers. My husband and the cat can get along without me [...]

O’Sullivan and Civil War Ephemera

Interested in the ephemera of the Civil War? The National Archives has released thousands of documents and photographs from the American Civil War, and Wikimedia Commons is organizing them. Civil War Photo: Captain Harry Page, Quartermaster. "The Halt." Here's just one of many photos of U.S. History in the category: Virginia, Army of [...]

Kids Dig ‘Arch in the Park’

Muncy Historical Society, Northcentral Chapter 8, Lycoming College Unite to Offer One-of-a-Kind Archaeology Experience to Area Youth MUNCY -- Arch in the Park is a hands-on heritage program designed by students for students. Organized by communication students at Lycoming College, Arch in the Park is an archaeological outreach offered by Muncy Historical Society, Northcentral Chapter [...]

Grit Chronicles: Suffrage in Williamsport

On occasion, I share historic news reports and here's one of interest, in honor of Women's History Month. People don't often think of Suffrage as a community effort, but without commitment on the local level, the 19th Amendment would never have passed. Thanks to the dedication of women in smalltown America, as well as the [...]

Our Milestone: 35 Years Together

We celebrated a milestone in the Van Auken family: our 35th wedding anniversary. I made a short video for my sweetheart that summarized some of the adventures we've had this past year, and I'm looking forward to many more.   Van Aukens observe 35th anniversary Lance and Robin Van Auken Mr. and Mrs. [...]

Muncy Heritage Park Offers River Access

Muncy Heritage Park offers river access. MUNCY — River enthusiasts, canoeists and kayakers have another gorgeous access point to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, this one overlooking a significant historic site: the Last Raft Crash Site at Muncy Heritage Park and Nature Trail. Muncy Heritage Park offers river access. Muncy Historical Society [...]

Get a Great Night’s Sleep

Have you, your family, or a friend ever had difficulty sleeping? For years, I've struggled with going to sleep and remaining asleep. I would lie awake for hours, agonizing over my "To Do" list or tasks I hadn't completed. Drift Off to Sleep I've found a solution that works for me, and it's been working [...]

Small Changes Ripple Outward

I spent a delightful 12 minutes today watching a Ted Talk by Shawn Achor, a psychologist who teaches about positivity and its effect on happiness. Shawn Achor(Photo courtesy Alexismbr, Wikimedia Commons) Not only did I laugh most of the the time, but I was inspired to pause the video (so yes, it took [...]

Hands on Heritage: Keeler Company

Hands on Heritage: Keeler Company The E. Keeler Company, manufacturers of boilers, etc., conduct Quo of the old industries of the city. The business was established in 1864 by J. Heathcote & Company, who conducted it until 1877, when it was incorporated with a paid-up capital of $50,000, the executive officers being George W. Sands, [...]

Hands on Heritage: Market Square

Hands on Heritage: Market Square This 1875 photograph shows the southwest corner of Market Square in downtown Williamsport. Bustling with downtown traffic despite the muddy thoroughfares, Williamsport's booming lumber trade summoned entrepreneurs eager to capitalize on the region's wealth and new construction. The block featured a ticket office for the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad Company, [...]

Ask a Curator Day

We're all curious about what goes on behind closed doors, and that's true for museums and galleries and historical societies, as well as private residences. Spencer F. Baird, the first Curator of the National Museum and second Secretary of the Smithsonian, oversaw the development of the Smithsonian as the national museum of the United [...]

Kickstart Your Writing with a Retreat

Crystal Lake Lodge I've been on a hiatus from my fiction writing career. It wasn't intentional; I let other tasks and chores get in the way, and failed to prioritize. My writing is important, and if I want to wrap up my current series and move onto the next one, I need to [...]

Crash Site Remains Worst Airline Disaster in Lycoming County History

Allegheny Airlines Flight 371 crash site One man's quest to memorialize the victims of the worst airline disaster in Lycoming County history, the crash of Allegheny Airlines Flight 371 on Bald Eagle Mountain, is coming to an end. The crash site has received designation from the Commonwealth as an official archaeological site. In addition, [...]

Just Below Your Feet

Just Below Your Feet is Stephanie Bowen, right, and Sara Griggs A year ago, during American Archaeology Field School, one of my students asked about Cultural Resource Management in Pennsylvania. I told her about CRM and about PA Act 70, which has devastated professional archaeology in the Commonwealth, and encouraged her to research [...]

Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park in Benton, PA, is a haul up to the top of a mountain, but it's worth it!

Grub Hub Camp Kitchen

Grub Hub Outdoor Camping Kitchen If you're in the market for a camp kitchen, you should be looking at the Grub Hub Outdoor Camping Kitchen. This amazing, patented contraption is easy to setup and is packed full of features. The price isn't for the faint of heart -- it retails on the manufacturer's [...]

Outdoors with Jerry Zeidler

I first met Jerry Zeidler while on assignment for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette. At the time, he was a  Pennsylvania Wildlife Conservation officer and I visited his office for background on an article. We chatted and became friends, not only because of his helpful advice, but because he was a fellow writer and an award-winning professional photographer. [...]

Lost No More: Alvira and the Ordnance

In 1942, after America entered World War II, its citizens were asked to sacrifice much for the war effort. Gasoline, sugar, butter and silk were rationed and entire communities rallied behind scrap and tire drives. One community, however, sacrificed much more: The entire village of Alvira walked from their homes and farms in the shadow [...]

Heritage Downloads

My History Is America's History This free eBook, "My History Is America's History: 15 Things You Can Do to Save America's Stories," is a guidebook to help families and individuals to explore family history and discover how our own family stories connect to the history of our nation. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF (LARGE [...]

Public Archaeology

Public Archaeology As a historical archaeologist, I work with museums and non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, public and private schools, and avocational archaeology groups.  Services I offer include: Field trips Field schools Hands-on heritage programs Historical research, oral histories Ethnographic research and interviews Interpretive exhibit, video development National Register assessments, nominations Testing, data [...]