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A tank explodes from the entrance to the Eldred World War Two Museum in McKean County, Pennsylvania.

The Surprisingly Amazing Eldred World War II Museum

I’m not going to lie. When I heard that the tiny town of Eldred, Pennsylvania, had a World War II museum, I really wasn’t expecting much. I figured that it would probably have a few keepsakes from local soldiers and maybe even a few souvenirs brought back from Germany and Japan. However, even before I entered the museum, I knew that I was going to be pleasantly surprised.

When you drive up to the Eldred World War II Museum, the first thing you notice is the large 3-D mural on the outside. Featuring a tank exploding from the walls of the museum, the mural is certainly eye-catching and no doubt draws in its share of visitors by itself.

Moving inside, I was quite surprised at the large size of the museum. Featuring half a dozen large rooms filled with thousands of items related to the entire war, this is not your typical small town museum.

During the war, Eldred was the site of a large munitions factory that operated from 1941 until mid-1945 and employed over 1,500 people, most of whom were women. The museum, that has been open since 1996, tells the story of not just the local involvement in the war, but the entire war itself. Focusing on the personal side of the war instead of the units, the museum has a much more personal and in-depth feel than many other war museums.

A mannequin at the Eldred World War 2 Museum displays the Medal of Honor and uniform of Mitchell Paige.

A mannequin displays the Medal of Honor and uniform of Mitchell Paige.

However, that doesn’t mean that the museum doesn’t tell the story of the war. Far from it. In fact, I would say that the narration of the war is one of the most complete I have seen in any museum. Everything is covered from the different campaigns, including the rarely covered Eastern Front, to America’s civil defense, and the women who worked in the many factories.

There is even a new section that focuses on the Holocaust, though admission is restricted to ensure young eyes don’t see too much.

One especially impressive section focuses on the exploits of Mitchell Paige, a soldier born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Paige earned a Medal of Honor for his exploits on Guadalcanal where he single-handedly caused the retreat of hundreds of attacking Japanese soldiers. The museum focuses an entire section to Paige and is fortunate enough to have many of his personal effects, including his Medal of Honor.

Throughout the museum, there is a fantastic collection of keepsakes and souvenirs donated by both locals and those who live outside the area. The museum’s collection features hundreds of military uniforms from the war and souvenirs brought back from Germany and Japan. One macabre highlight was a photo album from a local German woman that features a picture of herself as a small child being hugged by Adolf Hitler.

One of the six large rooms at the excellent Eldred World War 2 Museum.

One of the six large rooms at the excellent Eldred World War II Museum.

For anyone interested in researching the war, the Eldred World War II Museum has a collection of over 10,000 books related to the war, and the museum has written down interviews with more than 4,000 veterans.

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    I can’t emphasize enough how impressed I was with the quality and detail of the Eldred World War II Museum. Despite being a privately owned museum in a small town, it is one of the state’s most interesting history museums. Anyone with an interest in military history should put a visit high on their list of things to see and do in McKean County, Pennsylvania.

    Note: Special thanks to the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau for hosting my visit to the Eldred World War II Museum.


    Eldred World War II Museum

    Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10a-4p
    Sunday: 1p-4p

    Cost: Adults: $5, Children: Free

    Website: EldredPaWWIIMuseum.com

    Address: 201 Main Street
    Eldred, PA 16731

    See map below for other area attractions.



    AUTHOR - Jim Cheney

    Jim Cheney is the creator of UncoveringPA.com. Based in the state capital of Harrisburg, Jim frequently travels around Pennsylvania and has visited all 67 counties in the state. Jim has also traveled to more than 30 different countries around the world.

    7 Comments

    • Mark Splain

      Great museum….. of course, I am prejudiced, as I am a native of Eldred!

    • Suzanne Fluhr

      I love when one stumbles on a museum such as this with low expectations and ends up being greatly impressed. I’m a Pennsylvanian, but my find was a little countryside WW I museum outside of Ypres that really presented a “you are there” experience of trench warfare.

    • denise stanek

      You have done a wonderful job of pointing out things I never knew existed. Found some new places to go to this summer. Thanks

      • Jim Cheney

        Thanks, Denise! Enjoy your summer travels.

    • Maryanne Sivak

      Am planning a trip to see Museum.

    • Phil Tireman

      Will be taking my first trip to PA in July with my wife who is from PA. Will be visiting the muesum at that time.

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