After our trolley tour of Hershey, PA, on Wednesday morning, which included a stop at Founders Hall on the campus of the Milton Hershey School, we went to “The Hershey Story: The Museum on Chocolate Avenue,” commonly called the Hershey Museum at 63 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, PA 17033 (717/534-3439; www.HersheyStory.org ), before leaving Hershey for the night to visit with some friends and attend midweek Bible study with them (we returned to Hershey the next day). With breakthrough technology, the museum experience places one inside the imagination of Milton Hershey and tells how he went from bankruptcy to brilliance and transformed chocolate from a luxury to an everyday treat, how he built a community, and why he gave away his fortune twice. There are special activities where kids can solve puzzles throughout the museum using a special workbook and become a Milton Hershey Apprentice. There are also a Museum Shop and the Café Zooka where we ate on Wednesday.
One of the stops on our Wednesday morning trolley tour of Hershey, PA, was the Founders Hall at the Milton Hershey School (P. O. Box 830, Hershey, PA 17033; 717/520-2000; www.mhsKids.org ). Milton and Catherine Hershey, who made a fortune in the chocolate industry, had a deep concern for children. They were unable to have any of their own, so they adopted four, with the hope of adding more, so to keep from overtaxing the public schools, Hershey founded the Hershey Industrial School in 1909. Unfortunately, Catherine died just a few years later. In 1918 Hershey gave virtually all his personal fortune to the school to provide for its continuation.
The school continued to grow until today Milton Hershey School is the country’s largest pre-kindergarten through grade 12 home and school for boys and girls of low income and social need. All students, more than 1,800, attend free of charge and receive housing; education; clothing, meals, and medical, dental, religious, psychological, and other services. Some 90% go on to college. Built in 1970, he Founders Hall houses a huge rotunda which, at 74 feet high is the second largest rotunda in the world, the chapel auditorium, the dining room, and administrative offices. There are a life-sized painting of Milton and Catherine Hershey by artist Robert A. Anderson, painted in 2008 and based on a photography of the Hersheys taken in Nice, France, in 1910, and a bronze statue of Milton S. Hershey and a young boy by sculptor Walker Hancock, donated to MHS for its 50th anniversary in 1959.
On Wednesday morning, we took the Hershey Trolley Tour (717/533-3000; www.hersheytrolleyworks.com ). It begins at Hershey’s Chocolate World and goes past several of the sites in the area, including Hershey Park, the Hershey Park Stadium, ZooAmerica, the Hershey Theater, the Hershey Museum, the Hershey Hotel, the Hershey Gardens, the Hershey Public Library, Hershey public schools, the Hershey Hospital, , the Hershey candy factory, the Reese’s candy factory which is now owned by Hershey’s, the old Derry Twp. one room school, the Milton Hershey School, the homes that Hershey built for his workers, and perhaps some other things that I don’t remember offhand. The tour guide gives the historical background of the area, Milton Hershey, and the development of Hershey’s chocolate factory. He also gives out plenty of Hershey chocolate samples! Check out the street lights in town:
Leaving Lancaster County, PA, on Monday morning following our tour of the Intercourse Pretzel Factory, we headed to Hershey, PA, and spent the rest of the day at Zoo America, more commonly known as the Hershey Zoo, 201 Park Ave., Hershey, PA 17033 (717/534-3900; www.ZooAmerica.com ). This 11-acre, walk-through zoo is not your typical zoological gardens with lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, and other animals from around the world. Milton Hershey originally established The Hershey Zoo with various common zoo animals as part of his park around 1905, and by 1915 The Hershey Zoological Garden, as it was then known, was billed as “largest free private zoo in Pennsylvania.” In 1978, however, the focus of the zoo was changed and it was renamed “ZooAmerica: North American Wildlife Park, specializing in animals from the five regions of North America: Southern Swamps, Great Southwest, Eastern Woodlands, Big Sky Country, and Northlands, with over 200 animals of 60 species displayed in natural habitats. In 1982, ZooAmerica became one of only 50 zoos in the United States to receive accreditation by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
On Tuesday morning, before leaving Lancaster County for Hershey, we stopped by the Intercourse Pretzel Factory in the Cross Keys Village Center, 3614 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse, PA 17534 (717/768-3432; www.intercoursepretzelfactory.com ). Established in 1995, this factory has a top production of 600 pounds per week. Their pretzels aren’t found in grocery stores because they’re a small factory making specialty pretzels for sale in their store only. Their free 15-20 minute tour explains the pretzel making process and includes the opportunity to learn how to twist a pretzel. Their own pretzels come in both hard and soft, and in addition to plain they have herb, cheese, and brown butter flavored, and chocolate and molasses-caramel covered. These are available for sale over the Internet too. The store also sells a broad assortment of regional pretzels. The place doesn’t look like a factory because it’s in a unique shopping center with other stores such as Dolly Bodacious. There are other pretzel factories in the area, but this is one of the few, if perhaps the only one, where all the pretzels are still made by hand.
The last stop on our Monday itinerary at Lancaster, PA, was the Biblical Tabernacle Reproduction at the Mennonite Information Center, 2209 Millstream Rd., Lancaster, PA 17602 (717/299-0954; www.mennoniteinfoctr.com ). As I understand it, the reproduction was first done by a Baptist minister somewhere south, but it was decided to put in on permanent display at the Mennonite Information Center in Lancaster. The Information Center also has a couple of movies, “Who are the Amish” and “Postcards from a Heritage of Faith,” but we were too late to see either of them. We got there just in time for the last tour of the Tabernacle. In addition, there are exhibits of Amish and Mennonite lifestyles and audio/visual stories of Amish and Mennonite history. And they offer Amish Country Private Car Tours too. Right next door, in a building that looks almost identical to the Information Center, is a Mennonite Museum operated by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, but, again, we were too late to get into it.
After eating lunch on Monday at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord, we went to the Landis Valley Museum, 2451 Kissel Hill Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601 (717/569-0401; www.landisvalleymuseum.org ). Landis Valley was originally an actual crossroads village. Brothers George and Henry K. Landis, who were born after the close of the Civil War and became avid collectors of curiosities, recognized the valuable contributions of Pennsylvania Germans to American culture, so they bought the village in the 1920s, brought other historical buildings to the site, and added their own collections to make a museum. It is now operated by the state of Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. In addition to the Visitor’s Center, where there is an introductory video, there are over thirty buildings. On Mondays, only guided tours are given, and the tour we took visited the Log Farm, the Jacob Landis Farmhouse, the Country Store, the Landis Brothers House and Stable, the Tavern, and the Gun Shop. Also the Farm Machinery and Tool Barn was open, but we didn’t have time to see it. And, there are a separate Hands-on House Children’s Museum and the Weathervane museum gift store.