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Westminster students visit historical Pennsylvania sites

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Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2018

NEW WILMINGTON, PA – Members of Dr. Timothy Cuff’s 2018 Pennsylvania History course visited the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's Erie Maritime Museum and the Drake Well on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Students Derek Bakewell, Colin Campbell and Michaela Marini first traveled to the museum in Erie, where they gained a historical context for their tour of the Brig Niagara, a reconstruction of a vessel which saw combat in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

“Students remarked about their better understanding of the deafening, terrifying nature and danger of being in a naval battle on a relatively small, wooden vessel, like the Brig Niagara,” Cuff said. “Seeing the ship in person and learning small details about the Battle of Lake Erie really brought this home for them.”

Later in the day, students toured the Drake Well, site of the first oil well drilled in the U.S., to gain an understanding of how early oil drilling took place and its consequences locally, nationally and internationally.

This trip was part of the “See Pennsylvania” portion of the course, which is an optional element of the class experience.

“Travel to historic sites and the up-close-and-personal experience which it provides enriches student understanding and makes history more visceral,” Cuff said.

Additional trips for the class are planned for later in the semester across other portions of Pennsylvania.

Cuff, professor of history, joined the Westminster faculty in 2000. He earned his undergraduate from Westminster College, his master’s from Bowling Green State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.

For more information, contact Dr. Cuff at or 724-946-6152.