America's Best History Spotlight 

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area.  And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find.  You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't.  It'll be fun.  Visit them.

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Totem Pole Playhouse
Caledonia, Pennsylvania

Summer Stock Theatre
Totem Pole Playhouse

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What is There Now

Totem Pole Playhouse

What's There

Concert Amphitheatre
15,500 total seats.  
General Admission Floor Seating
Covered pavilion seats.
Lawn seating.

Perfomances by some of the nation's best music acts from rock, country, soul, an alternative.

When Did it Open

1967.  First performance by ??

How Much for Tickets

Individual Tickets
Varies depending on act.  High end, $45 lawn, $125 best seats.

Hours Open

Season runs May 30 to early October.

How to Get There

From Washington (South) - 495 to 95 North toward Baltimore.  Take Route 32 West toward Columbia, then 29 North.  Exit 18B, Broken Land Parkway and looking for signs to park.

From Baltimore (North) - 695 West/South to Interstate 70 West (Exit 16) to Route 29 South.  Take South Entrance Road exit, then turn right, then left onto Symphony WOods Road.  Look for parking sign.  

Parking is usually free at Meriweather Post and held on grass and gravel lots.  Tailgating is allowed.

There are several entrances to the pavilion.  Bathrooms outside the pavilion while you wait for it to open are in the parking lot area, which can be a quarter to half mile walk to the entrance gates.  There is handicap parking nearer to the pavilion itself.

Website:  Meriweather Post Pavilion


Reenactors leading the public at the Iron Brigade Battle Walk, Gettysburg 150th Anniversary

History Along the Way You Might Like

Gettysburg National Military Park, 14 Miles east.

Caledonia State Park, including the remnants of the Caledonia Iron Works and Blacksmith Shop owned by Thaddeus Stevens and burned on the Confederate path to Gettysburg.  Across Route 30 from playhouse.

Michaux State Forest surrounds Caledonia State Park.  The Appalachian Trail winds through the forest and park.  There is free primitive camping in Micheaux and fee campground camping at Caledonia.

Big Ed's Elephant Village, between Caledonia and Gettysburg.

Caledonia Iron Works Blacksmith Shop - Free Shipping on ALL orders


About Them

Totem Pole Playhouse

Sometimes it's the unrecognized gem of a visitor attraction you come across when you least expect it.  It pops out of the woods along the roadside as you look for signs of more popular places.  And for some reason, you stop.  Because of a name.  Because it seems different.  Because it seem fun.  All of those things apply as you trace your way, likely to Gettysburg National Military Park, from Interstate 81 in Chambersburg down Lincoln Highway Route 30 from the west.  And there it is. The Totem Pole Playhouse, snuggled in the woods of Caledonia State Park with a summer stock program to regail even the most jaded critic.

The Totem Pole Playhouse has been playing host to theatre goers since 1951, and each summer puts on a playbill that includes up and coming, as well as famous actors and actresses to its quaint wood building in the pines.  This season, 2014, there was Melissa Gilbert, of Little House on the Prairie fame, in Steel Magnolias, the first production of the year as well as Ken Jenkins (Scrubs) and Jill Larson (All My Children) starting on July 18 in The Foreigners.
The artistic director of the theatre is Rowan Joseph, of Amazing Race fame and a variety of credits in the film, television, and theatre scene from New York to Los Angeles, and he's made it a point of making the Totem Pole a fun and enjoyable evening, or matinee, in the theatre woods.

Totem Pole Playhouse

Outside the 350 seat theatre sits this nice respite in the woods at the Totem Pole Playhouse, Caledonia, Pennsylvania.

The 2014 Totem Pole Playhouse Season
Steel Magnolias - May 30 to June 15
Ring of Fire - June 20 to July 13
The Foreigners - July 18 to August 3
Godspell - August 8 to August 13

The 2015 Totem Pole Playhouse Season
The Nerd - May 29 to June 14
The Will Rogers Follies - June 19 to July 12
One Slight Hitch - July 17 to August 2
Grease - August 7 to August 30

History of Summer Stock Theatre

Often held outdoors, but not here at Totem Pole, summer stock theatre emerged in 1919 at the Muny in St. Louis, Missouri, soon joined during the summer seasons of the next decade at the Manhattan Theatre Colony (Petersborough, New Hampshire), Cape Playhouse (Dennis, Massachusetts), which opened with Basil Rathbone in the lead, and the Berkshire Playhouse (Stockbridge, Massachusetts).  Some folks refer to summer stock, which is primarily an american invention, as the Straw Hat circuit.  Henry Fonda and Bette Davis made their acting debuts in the summer stock theatre program at the Cape Playhouse (photo below courtesy of the Dennis Historical Society).

For more information and history on summer stock theatre, you can read Summer Stock, An American Theatrical Phenomenom by Martha Schmoyer LoMonaco.

Cape Playhouse, Dennis, Massachusetts



Past Spotlights

America On Wheels
Heinz Wildlife/Fort Mifflin
Reading Railroad Museum/Reading Phils Minor League Baseball
Rancho Los Cerritos, Long Beach, CA
Trexler Game Preserve/Horseshoe Trail
Battle of Kelly's Ford, Phelps WMA, VA
Museum of Indian Culture/Lil Le Hi Trout Nursery

Civil War 150th Anniversary T-Shirts and Gifts

Great Gifts for National Park fans

America's Best History Shirts, Sweatshirts, Mugs

America's Best History Timeline Cover

America's Best History Index

Historic Sites
Acadia National Park
Alamo, San Antonio
Appalachian Trail
Ball's Bluff
Barbary Coast - San Francisco
Big Cypress National Preserve
Blue Ridge Parkway
Bryce Canyon
Cape Canaveral
Cape Cod National Seashore
Carlsbad Caverns
Chickamauga & Chattanooga
Colorado NM
Crater Lake
Ellis Island
The Everglades
Ferry Farm/Mount Vernon
First State National Monument
Fort McHenry
Fort Sumter
Fort Vancouver
Glacier National Park
The Grand Canyon
Grand Teton
Great Smoky Mountains
Harper's Ferry
Hawaii Volcanoes
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Joshua Tree National Park
Mammoth Cave
Manassas (Bull Run)
Mesa Verde
Morristown NHP
Mount Rainier
Muir Woods
Natchez Trace Parkway
New Orleans
Niagara Falls
Oklahoma Land Rush
Olympic National Park
Oregon Trail
Pearl Harbor
Petrified Forest
Philadelphia - Independence
Pinnacles National Park
Plymouth Rock
Redwood National Park
Rocky Mountain NP
The Roswell Incident
Saguaro National Park
San Antonio Missions NHS
San Juan NHS
San Juan Islands
St. Augustine
St. Louis Gateway West
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Statue of Liberty
Stones River
Sutter's Mill (Gold Rush)
Valley Forge
Theodore Roosevelt NP
War of 1812
Washington, D.C.
Washington's Crossing
White Sands
Wilderness, Battle of
Yellowstone National Park
Yosemite National Park
Zion National Park

Historic Site Attendance Statistics

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U.S. History Timeline
History Timeline Index

* 1770-1779 - The American Revolution
* 1780-1789 - The Nascent Democracy
* 1790-1799 - America Builds


1800-1809 - Exploration
* 1810-1819 - The War of 1812
* 1820-1829 - A Decade of Compromise & Doctrine
* 1830-1839 - Conquering the West
* 1840-1849 - The Mexican War
* 1850-1859 - Expansion & the Looming Divide
* 1860-1869 - The Civil War
* 1870-1879 - The Nation's Centennial Decade
* 1880-1889 - America Invents
* 1890-1899 - The Age of Immigration


1900-1909 - The World Begins to Fly
* 1910-1919 - World War I
* 1920-1929 - Properity and Its Demise
* 1930-1939 - The Great Depression
* 1940-1949 - World War II
* 1950-1959 - Two Cars in Every Garage
* 1960-1969 - Civil Rights and Turmoil
* 1970-1979 - The Nation in Flux
* 1980-1989 - The Reagan Revolution
* 1990-1999 - Prosperity as the World Turns


2000-2009 - The Fight against Terrorism
* 2010-Present - Economic Recovery

1490-1499 - Columbus/Cabot
1500-1599 - Exploration
1600-1699 - Settlement
1700-1769 - American Rights

National Park Timeline
Abraham Lincoln to Cuyahoga Valley
Dayton Aviation to Gulf Islands
Hagerman Fossil Beds to Muir Woods
Natchez to Russell Cave
Sagamore Hill to Zion NP

Other Important National Park Service Dates