That’s the term Don is using to describe our ventures from sunny Florida last March, up into the Amish countryside of Northern Indiana, around the Great Lakes, to our present surroundings in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Lancaster was a shock to us. Having spent time in the Amish areas of Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, we had expected to find similar surroundings here. Instead we found a bustling city of over 59,000. Although the city has sprawled outward, its downtown historic district is well maintained and thriving. Rich in history. Lancaster, originally called Hickory Town, was part of William Penn’s, Penn Woods Charter. During the American Revolution, it served briefly as the capitol of the colonies. Several important figures in American history have called this area home at one time or another, among them were the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan, Thaddeus Stevens, a United States House of Representatives member who played an integral part in the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat.
Other claims to fame are,having the first paved road in the U.S., formerly the Philadelphia & Lancaster Turnpike, which today makes up part of U.S. 30, also known as the Lincoln Highway and in 1879, Franklin Woolworth opened his first “five and dime” store in the city.
The Old Mill Stream Campground is in the perfect location for visiting several of the smaller, outlying Amish villages. Our purpose for coming here.
One of the more uniquely named villages in Lancaster County. When settlers began arriving to the Penn’s Woods colony from Philadelphia, inns were built every few miles along the way identified with signs proclaiming the inns name. In order for the signs to be understandable to all the nationalities, pictures were used in lieu of words. The legend behind the naming of Bird-In-Hand is this; when the Old Philadelphia Pike road was being laid out, surveyors at the local hotel debated whether they should stay the night where they were or return to Lancaster. One of them purportedly said, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” The sign in front of the inn, which became known as Bird-in-Hand Inn.
This little town is our favorite of all those we’ve visited thus far, not so much for all the little trinket shops, bakeries or garden stores, but because of its farmers market. As soon as we entered through the wide doors, we were all smiles. Bright, bountiful displays of mouthwatering goodies caught our eyes immediately and the mixed aromas wafting around us just added to our pleasure. We walked through once, taking time to look at everything as we passed before deciding on what we would purchase. The second time around we made our purchases. We selected fresh meats form the butcher which carried such a variety of meats that we’d not seen offered anywhere before. Don bought a couple of jars of Pumpkin Butter to have in his oatmeal. The produce stand was well stocked with locally grown vegetables and fruit. I stocked up on potatoes, onions and apples. At the Kettle Kitchen vendor, we ordered a pretzel bun bratwurst to sample, taking that and some apple cider back to the truck to eat. ( I should mention that it’s what keeps bringing us back. I have no words to describe it so Delicious will just have to suffice.) Once again Amy, thank you for the heads up on this delectable treat.
The butt of many jokes I’m sure. We’ve been told there are several stories on how the town came to be named but one of the more plausible stories suggests that in 1814, the town formerly known as “Cross Keys” was changed to Intercourse as part of a failed real estate scheme. We did browse though a few of the shops here, most notably the Intercourse Pretzel Factory. They make hard pretzels just the way we like them, crisp and very salty.
A charmingly attractive town that boasts a vibrant historic downtown perfect for strolling. Lots of little shops, businesses and eateries are housed in beautifully restored buildings. The town has ties to the Moravian faith. As was the case with many religious groups of old Europe, the faithful came to the New World seeking freedom from persecution. For over 100 years only Moravian church members were allowed to live in the town. Probably the things Lititz is more noted for is the Moravian Church, circa 1787, Linden Hall, the oldest continuously operating residence school for girls, the Wilbur Chocolate Factory and the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery.
We visited both the Wilbur Chocolate Factory and the Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. Wilbur Chocolate’s began manufacturing cocoa and chocolate products in Philadelphia. By 1934, H. O. Wilbur & Sons consolidated their three locations into one, settling in Lititz. The Wilbur Bud, created by Henry Oscar Wilbur in 1894 is the company’s biggest seller. We were told it rivals Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, I’m not a big chocolate eater, for me, a little goes a long way, but Don on the other hand, is a chocolate aficionado and he readily agrees.
Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, which opened in 1861, is America’s first commercial pretzel bakery. Still owned by the Sturgis family, it’s been making pretzels for over 150 years. Originally we had planned to take the factory tour but loaded tour buses pulled up just ahead of us and we were packed like sardines inside. We purchased two fresh baked pretzels and retreated to our truck to eat them.
We did enjoy walking the historic district, peeking inside shops and reading the plaques attached to the outside of the buildings, most are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Not an Amish town but certainly a town worthy of visiting.September 27 was the day designated by the Smithsonian Museum as a free day at it’s affiliated museums across America. This is really a great offer and one we like to take advantage of. When I received my email from the Smithsonian Institute alerting me it was that time again, I immediately researched where we could use our voucher near us and the place that struck our fancy was The Hershey Story Museum.
The Hershey Museum tells the history and legacy of Milton Hershey and the chocolate confections he invented. The museum is laid out with four distinct areas. On the lower level is The Chocolate Lab where visitors get hands on experience in the art of candy making. There is even a chocolate tasting room that allows you to sample warm drinking chocolates from around the world. The interactive Chocolate Workers Wanted exhibit where we saw and smelt cocoa beans being roasted. Then we were “walked” through each of the jobs the workers perform in the making and distribution of Hershey chocolates. Last is the store where you can make purchases of candy of course!, and other souvenir items. I should mention too, there is a striking floor to ceiling mural depicting Mr. Hershey with children at the Milton Hershey School, the legacy he was most proud of.
The upper level tells the chocolate story. It takes us from Milton Hershey’s Mennonite upbringing to how he came into an apprenticeship with a candy maker. The start up of his candy manufacturing with money given to him by his uncle, how the company grew from two employees, his mother and aunt, to over 1,300. We learned why he chose this area to start his venture, the candy making processes he invented and refined and how the town of Hershey came into being.
We left here feeling that Milton Hershey had been an honorable man who not only cared about making a quality product but also cared deeply for his employees. He provided his company workers with more than jobs. Housing, schools, recreational opportunities, transportation and health care are but a few of the provisions he made. We were impressed.
War time rationing halted Kiss production from 1942 until 1949. Aluminum foil for wrappers was unavailable. The company stopped the Kiss machines while it focused on churning out over 1.6 billion ration bars for U.S. troops.
After touring the Museum on Chocolate Avenue, we toured the town. We got the biggest kick out of the street lighting. The iconic Hershey Kisses, wrapped and unwrapped versions line the streets! The Milton Hershey School is still in operation today and much expanded. Popular Hersheypark was in full swing. Did you know it began as a small amusement park provided by Mr. Hershey for the enjoyment of his employees? Likewise the Hershey Gardens. We would like to return one day to explore Hershey more fully and the nearby capital of Harrisburg.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid……………………….