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You’ll Dream of Chocolate

  • By
  • November 12, 2018
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Chocolate Hershey Bar

HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA

Melding Chocolate Culture with History

 

Milton S. Hershey School
The Milton Hershey School, a private, cost-free residential school was founded by Milton Hershey and his wife, Catherine, for children from lower-income families. The lobby mural brings to life the iconic entrepreneur and philanthropist, Milton S. Hershey.  Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Most of us love a story with a happy ending.

We’ve all heard of extraordinarily successful entrepreneurs and we can’t help but wonder how they rose above the day-to-day challenges associated with running a business. Milton S. Hershey is an individual we can admire for his dream and vision but he wasn’t an instant success.

Where can you learn more about Milton S. Hershey and his legacy?

At the Hershey Story Museum, The Hershey Company’s most recent building endeavor.

The Hershey Story Museum
Learn how Milton S. Hershey rose from rags to riches. Plan a visit to the Hershey Story Museum. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

The Hershey museum opened in January 2009 in the heart of downtown Hershey, a magical town where the streetlights are modeled after Hershey Kisses and the aroma within each building is a reminder of why chocolate is a good as gold. More than 160,000 people visit the museum every year.

The story goes that around the turn of the century, chocolate was a booming business and Milton Hershey was so inspired, he sold his caramel business and broke ground for a new chocolate factory in nearby Derry Township, his hometown. For as long as I can remember, the Hershey bar has been a symbol of chocolatey sweetness and the iconic chocolate-colored wrapper that has evolved over the years is also a reminder of days gone by. But it’s more than the chocolate that’s represented in the museum. It’s Milton Hershey’s rag to riches’ story. Walk into a grocery store or anywhere that food is sold and you’ll likely find a product manufactured by the Hershey Company. More than a century after Hershey built his factory, Hershey products are manufactured and savored around the world.

Milton S. Hershey legacy
Buttons. dials and story-board exhibits teach children about Milton S. Hershey and his legacy. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

My recent media trip to Hershey was a fascinating mix of chocolate culture. The Hershey Story Museum, 63 West Chocolate Ave., Hershey, Pennsylvania, helps to tie together the entire Hershey experience with a mix of exhibits and archives that will ignite your curiosity about the art of chocolate making and demystify the man who started the company from scratch. Where are the ingredients sourced? Where does Hershey find such large quantities of cocoa beans to mass produce chocolate? Where do the sugar and dairy that are key ingredients in many of products originate? The exhibits answer those questions through visuals and hands-on experimentation that every child and adult should experience at least once.

The Hershey Museum Cuba Exhibit
What was Milton Hershey’s relationship with Cuba? Find out at the exhibit happening at The Hershey Story Museum, Hershey, PA. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
Milton S. Hershey Cuba Award
Discover why Milton S. Hershey’s was awarded
the “Grand Cross of the National Order of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes” by Cuba’s president in 1933. Image courtesy of The Hershey Story Museum.

The “Failures to Fortunes” exhibit is one that particularly illustrates how determination can result in ultimate success. Milton S. Hershey found success while at the Lancaster Caramel Company and grew his company from there into a booming chocolate business. Each piece in the exhibits is presented so they appeal to adults and children. 

Don’t leave the museum without stopping at The Pantry Cafe for coffee, sweets and confections, a smoothie, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads and other treats to round out your museum experience.

Come to the museum as a family or plan a school field or scout trip to the museum. Winter can be long and boring. Check out the calendar of events here and beat the January and February blues at The Hershey Story Museum.

Chocolate World
What do you love most about chocolate? The taste, smooth texture, or the creaminess that melts in your mouth, or all of the above? I’d love to know your answer. Please leave a comment on the form below and share your thoughts on Instagram at #ChocolateWorld.

Hershey Chocolate World

The Hershey Story Museum is only a few Hershey Kiss miles away (nine minutes) from Hershey’s Chocolate World, another extraordinarily popular attraction. This one is free. You can board the chocolate making tour and find and smell the outrageous chocolate aroma throughout your tour.  Hershey’s famous characters tell the story of chocolate making that begins with cocoa beans and ends with the wrapping process.

Chocolate Hershey Bar
The M.S. Hershey timeline helps keep the evolution of Milton Hershey’s cherished business in perspective. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
chocolate tours
Hershey’s famous characters greet you around each bend and help describe the chocolate-making process. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Find your seat on the indoor tour tram. Tours run continuously throughout the day every 30 minutes (during business hours) and it’s WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE. After you’ve learned everything you should know about chocolate making, head to the 3D Chocolate Mystery Show and by that time, oh, you’ll be ready to create your own candy bar. The fun continues with the Hershey Trolley Tour, a seasonal way to view the incredible array of attractions Hershey offers its visitors. Book your tickets in advance online for the Holly Jolly Trolley that’ll delight your children. Or stop at the Central Ticketing office to purchase tickets. Caroling, stories, and a visit from a special guest will keep you entertained and set you in a holiday mode.

I visited Hershey in late summer and early fall and arrived to find flowers in bloom and meticulously manicured grounds and a flurry of activity.  Each season brings something new in this old-fashioned town. Put down your electronic devices so you can appreciate the farmlands and rolling hills that lead to Hershey. Play a game about what you see, or count the number of cows along the way to prepare your family for the attractions that will greet them at Hershey.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

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Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

  • By
  • October 12, 2018
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Lake Tobias Safari Cruiser Tour Bus

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

MEET THE RESIDENTS

Laugh and Learn With Your Family

Visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park residents take every opportunity to entertain visitors. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

Prepare to fall in love with the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. You’ll never see the same scene if you visit the wildlife park one or 50 times . A personalized performance and warm greeting from the staff and residents, educational programs for all ages, and a picnic lunch together in the concession area adjacent to Lake Tobias can all be woven seamlessly into your visit.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari
Board the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari Tour to meet the animals who roam on 165 acres.

If you’re a parent, you already know children grow up in a heartbeat. Savor those moments with your kids and reserve a day to visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park, Halifax, Pennsylvania. If your children are grown and you miss those carefree afternoons at the zoo, you too should plan a visit. The wildlife park  is reminiscent of an old-fashioned zoo I came to know in Northeastern Pennsylvania as a child growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the former Nay Aug Park Zoo operated on a much smaller scale, weekly visits to the petting zoo and main park building cultivated a love and respect for animals that has grown stronger over the years.

I’m so pleased the Tobias family chose to carry on the tradition of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park with affordable family engagement and hands-on learning. You can thank J.R. Tobias for his vision and diligence that has spanned more than 50 years. Although this wildlife park dates back to 1965 on a tract of land where J.R. Tobias was born and raised, numerous expansion and renovations have enabled the Tobias family to continue their father’s dream by enhancing the park’s offerings and highlighting a variety of wild and exotic animals. The most notable improvements have occurred in the last 15 years with several new additions: custom-designed, expanded habitats for the tigers and black bears, African lion and baboon facility,  custom-designed Reptile and Exotics’ facility, food service areas, relocated and expanded Safari Station, J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center, and the opening of a giraffe exhibit. Plans for additional exhibits are also in the works.

J.R. Tobias Family owners
Jan Tobias-Kieffer is one of J.R. Tobias’ seven children who have chosen to carry on the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park tradition. Jan is shown inside the J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center. 

J.R.’s daughter, Jan Tobias-Kieffer, said the wildlife park was a hobby her father could fall back on in his retirement. J.R. Tobias died in 1996 but his wife, Pauline, still lives in the homestead and six of the couple’s seven children and a grandson own and manage the wildlife park. Immediately, upon your entry into the park, you’ll notice the special care given to all the animals. They’re highly-socialized creatures that are genuinely happy to mingle with park guests. 

“My father always had a fascination with animals.” ~Jan Tobias-Kieffer

 

 

 

Meet the animals in person as I did on Thurs., Sept. 27, 2018, during my tour of the park. The park was at the top of my list of Harrisburg-Hershey attractions. I brought my life-long friend, Pennye Rosenfeld-Weinstein along to share in the fun. 

After dashing from my car to pick up our tickets at the Safari Station, we bought a large bag of popcorn to take with us to feed the animals we met on the safari. We made our way to the front of the line (yes, we cut in front of other visitors) so I could photograph Lenny, the Emu, classified as second-largest living bird by height and native to Australia.  Lenny was a mooch, to say the least. 

Exotic Animals Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lenny, the Emu, didn’t waste any time when he knew popcorn was awaiting him at the gate. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Be prepared to greet the animals up close and personal at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
Thousands of children each year meet and greet the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Their interaction allows them to learn more about an animal’s lifestyle and feeding habits. Lenny the Emu is an example of the pleasure children derive from a visit to the wildlife park.
Lenny, the Emu
Lenny spends his days hanging around by the Safari Station while waiting for guests to share their snacks.

(Recommendation: Don’t tempt Lenny or any other animal with food other than what is sold at the Safari Station and intended for the animals. Inquire at the Safari Station Snack Shop.)

Watch this documentary and learn the history of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. The film was produced by Rutan Productions company and provided courtesy of Chip Rutan.

 

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
The fleet of safari cruisers are ready for the crowds that visit Lake Tobias every year. Adventure-seekers can opt in for the 45-minute safari tour by purchasing tickets at the welcome center.

Our personal tour guide stopped numerous times along the Safari trail to allow visitors an opportunity to snap photos and greet and feed the animals. A fleet of “chop-top” safari cruisers are available to accommodate visitors who arrive at the park each year. You’ll find the hours of operation and directions to the park here.

Allow ample time to visit each of the exhibits at the park. The African Lion, American Alligator, American Black Bear, Asian Water Buffalo, Bengal Tiger, Burmese Python, Capybara, De Brazza, Monkey, Dromedary Camel, East African Crowned Crane, Eland, European Fallow Deer, Gemsbok, Grant’s Zebra, Green Tree Python, Marmoset, North American Bison, Ostrich, Peacock, Red Kangaroo, Rhea, Suri Alpaca, Tamarins, Two-Toed Tree Sloth, and the Watusi are among the animals you’ll find throughout the park. Each tour guide is well-trained and educated with an abundance of knowledge about the animals roaming the 150-acre countryside. Ask questions and expand your knowledge.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Safari
Ah, they were waiting to greet us as the tour guide navigated the safari bus along the straight and narrow trail.
Llamas and Alpacas Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Don’t worry, “I won’t spit on you. I’m looking for attention.”
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Bison Buffalo
“We’re relaxing and not inclined to get up to greet you but thanks for stopping by today.”
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
“I wait for the corn treats. They’re my favorite.”

The Reptiles and Exotics Facility

Are you skittish about reptiles? The Reptiles and Exotics Facility is where you can work on your fear. If not, move on to the lizards, tortoises, tropical birds, lemurs, tamarins, and the sloth who was particularly active during my visit. Check the schedule for an educational demonstration that will round out a perfect day at the park.

CHECK OUT SOME OF THE FRIENDS I MADE AT THE PARK.

where to see a sloth?
When the sloth is active, you’ll see him make his way up and down the branches.
Two Toed Tree Sloth
“Thanks for hanging around today. It’s a pleasure to meet and entertain you.”
Giant Tortoise
The crowd had time to study the GIANT Tortoise.
American Alligator Photo Information
Professional handlers and educators run the educational demonstrations held throughout the day.

(RECOMMENDATION: Take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the tables along the lake. You can purchase food at The Hub Refreshment Stand, the Grille & Grub and the Chill Zone in the center of the park or the new Safari Station snack shop or bring your own lunch.)

As the self-sustaining, family-owned Lake Tobias Wildlife Park continues to grow and attract more than 170,000 visitors each season, my readers should also be aware that this enduring and charming entity relies strictly on park revenue to feed the animals and support its educational and building programs. I know you’ll also feel the love and respect that emanates from each exhibit. As for J.R. Tobias’ children, who’ve never known a life without their animals, Jan told me she is grateful to be a part of her father’s calling.

She noted, “We always thought it (growing up in a park) was normal for us – peacocks yelling in your bedroom window, whereas our friends thought this was really cool. For us, it was an everyday thing,” Jan said.

 

 

 

 

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is located at 760 Tobias Road, Halifax, Pa. For updated hours or other information, call 717-362-9126 Mon., to Fri., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or email info@laketobias.com.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

DISCLAIMER:

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

 

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America’s Oldest Zoo Up Close

  • By
  • July 8, 2018
Philadelphia Zoo exhibits

An Afternoon at The Philadelphia Zoo

Celebrate Animals, Watch, Listen, and Learn 

America’s oldest zoo has always been one of my favorite “go-to” places as a child, adult, and parent. I’m referring to The Philadelphia Zoo, an urban animal paradise that opened on July 1, 1874, in the city’s Centennial District on the west bank of the Schuylkill River.

Philadelphia Zoo Primates
I’m convinced large primates love to put on a show for their guests. The primate habitat is always one of my first stops. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui

A visit to The Philadelphia Zoo is sheer pleasure. Even if you are not a fan of zoos, it’s a destination you and your child should experience together. After all, many children might never have an opportunity to catch a glimpse of and observe animals from around the world in a safe setting. The zoo houses at last count almost 1,300 animals and many are rare and endangered species. More than 1.2 million visitors come through the gates every year to watch, learn, and be entertained. One of the zoo’s primary goals is to educate children and adults about animal and environmental conservation. The world’s premier animal travel and exploration trail system, Zoo360, provides animals with ample space to roam and is one of the most thoughtfully-designed zoo attractions I’ve seen. If you go, small primates swinging from treetop to treetop, large primates eager to entertain and keep an eye on the crowds below, and the lions, tigers, jaguars, pumas, and other big cats are among the species you’ll discover. Need a break from the sun, you can seek refuge indoors in “The Reptile and Amphibian House,” opened in 1875 and regarded as the United States oldest zoo building.

Throughout the zoo’s 42-acre campus, you’ll find a variety of animal exhibits and each one is designed with a personalized experience in mind.  Many of the exhibits allow you and your children to stand within several inches – close enough to watch the residents interact with their peers. Children giggling at the primates’ shenanigans, lions basking in the sun, and the busy giraffe foraging for food are recurring scenes. 

What’s the best time to visit the zoo?

If you have young children, from birth to pre-school, schedule your visit for late spring, early summer, and fall mornings. You probably won’t find the large crowds you might encounter during peak summer hours and you’ll avoid long ticket lines at the gate.  If you don’t so you can watch the animals feed but if the kids have the zoo at the top of their priority list, you’re guaranteed a top-notch learning environment throughout most of the year. From mid-day until mid-afternoon, you could find some or maybe most of the animals napping so you’ll need to plan your day with your own goals in mind.

Philadelphia Zoo Current Exhibits
Obey rules and policies established to protect you and the animals you’ll discover at The Philadelphia Zoo. Be prepared to meet the resident geese who aren’t shy about begging for food.

Two New Exhibits You Won’t Want to Miss

The Philadelphia Zoo has added, “Penguin Point” and “Water is Life” to its list of incredible new exhibits since my last visit. Giant otters, Humboldt penguins, and red pandas are among the characters you’ll meet in a natural setting.

“Monkey Junction,” “PECO Primate Reserve,” and the “Reptile and Amphibian House” are three existing exhibits I never miss during my visits to the zoo. A snake sighting sends chills up my spine but yet, I can’t keep my eyes off them. Watching them make their way from water to land is an opportunity to study their lifestyle.

FEED WHEN THE ANIMALS FEED

There is typically an on-site dining area within close proximity in case you want to break for a meal or snack while the animals are feeding or napping. Watching them graze or gobble down their meals might trigger your hunger pangs and zoo cuisine has evolved to include a wide variety of choices for young and old alike.

The name, “Mane Fare,” encompasses the selection of eateries located throughout the grounds. Tiger Terrace, Eagles Roost, World Tacos are three of your food and beverage choices that offer palette-pleasing meals from pizza, burgers, chicken,  and tacos, and other staples most picky eaters will try.  Visitors who have not experienced the famous Philadelphia pretzel sold by street vendors throughout the city, you can find a slightly modified version in the pretzel bites sold at the “Philly Pretzel Factory.” You and your family should not leave the City of Brotherly Love before you experience a pretzel and cheesesteak.

Eating your meals with a clear view of an exhibit is part of the fun associated with a day at The Philadelphia Zoo.  Hours and availability vary seasonally so be sure to check the zoo’s website for more information.  Among other perks, zoo members receive a 10 percent discount on food and beverage throughout the park.

Let’s Talk Conservation

Zoos have gotten a bad rap over the years from organizations that believe animals should be allowed to roam free in their indigenous habitats but when conservation and preservation of species are the main focus, species that might otherwise be extinct due to illegal hunting and poaching are protected, a zoo offers a solution.  The Philadelphia Zoo has a conservation program in place that offers many of our world’s most endangered species a program that allows them to thrive, procreate, and also educate visitors. You can learn more about conservation and protection plans in place at  https://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Animals/Most-Endangered-Animals.htm or visit the “Rare Animal Conservation Center.” 

Not surprisingly, my sons who are now teenagers, enjoy a trip to the zoo and partly because we made a zoo visit part of many family vacations we’ve taken since they were infants. My oldest son accompanied me to The Philadelphia Zoo during my a recent assignment. I hope you’ll plant a seed of love and respect for animals and all mankind.

Disclosure:

My admission to The Philadelphia Zoo was comped but my opinions are my own.

 

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Fernwood Resort: Four seasons of family fun

  • By
  • July 15, 2016

Fernwood Resort: creating year-round family experiences

Gina Bertucci: Focus is on family at Fernwood

Activities=Quality Family Time 

 

 

Family fun…Have you taken the time to create lasting memories with your family?

Creating an experience that’s all-encompassing for families and guests of all ages is one of the challenges Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort co-owner, embraces.

Gina Bertucci
Gina Bertucci, co-owner, Fernwood Resort

With more than 18,000 member families, Fernwood Resort and the Villas at Tree Tops & Fairway®, 2157 River Rd, East Stroudsburg, PA, is part of RCI and is one of the largest vacation ownership properties in the Mid-Atlantic region with 650 beautifully-appointed villas.

“We have both timeshares and rentals so we’re a mixed-use property,” Bertucci explained.

Lodging options range from one-to-four bedrooms with accommodations for every taste, with a home-like feeling and amenities from simple and economical to deluxe and spacious.

When you’re ready to venture out onto the property, you’ll also see why Fernwood has received awards for being green.

According to Bertucci, “As a business, when we were looking at how to develop these pieces of property, what did we do?”

The Pocono TreeVentures and zipline courses are examples of the extraordinary measures Bertucci and her partners have taken to preserve the beauty and nature on the property.

 

family
The Matsui family receives instruction before beginning the Pocono TreeVentures course. Photo submitted by Fernwood Resort.

 

“We looked at ways to preserve this property. There’s a stream that goes through it, but really when you’re up in the trees, you really do appreciate the nature and the beauty of this region.”


Everywhere you turn at Fernwood, there’s something for everyone. A few of the free on-site activities are swimming and weekly pool parties, summer family movie nights, picnics and BBQ nights. At an additional cost, try horseback riding at Bushkill Stables, Pocono TreeVentures Ropes and Zipline courses, Blue and White Lightning Tubing and Paintball. Visit Fernwood Resort’s website for prices and hours of operation.

 

family
Kento Matsui enjoys an afternoon of swimming at Fernwood Resort’s outdoor pool.

 


 

Family
Discover the countryside surrounding Fernwood Resort. You can explore on foot or by horseback at Bushkill Riding Stables. Reserve your horse and saddle by clicking here

Approximately 15 years ago, Bertucci and other businesses affiliated with the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau got together to answer the question, how can we continue to showcase the Poconos as a region to explore and enjoy, and at the same time, preserve its natural beauty?

The Fernwood partners, for example, utilized approximately 10 acres of gorgeous farmland for the TreeVentures and Zip Line courses.

“It’s beautiful and challenging and when you’re finished, you think I just did something and it’s great exercise. It’s about authenticity,” commented Bertucci. “And not everyone has had a chance to try horseback riding? For other people, it’s shopping at the Crossings (Premium Outlets), canoeing on the Delaware River, bike riding, seeing nearby Bushkill Falls or following a lovely natural walking path at the 77,000-acre at the Delaware Water Gap National Historic site.”

 

What’s our recommendation for off-site family engagement? 

Don’t leave the Poconos without a stop at Bushkill Falls, known as “The Niagara of Pennsylvania.” With each season the landscape changes, providing a unique experience each time you visit. We suggest you reserve a half-day for your adventure.

 

family
Preservation of our natural scenic wonders is top-priority for Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort, representatives from other businesses and resorts and members of the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau. Visit Bushkill Falls but please follow the rules as shown above. Observe and appreciate but hands-off plants and wildlife.

family
Bushkill Falls is host to many family adventures, schools and group tours, weddings and is a fantastic photo op. I guarantee you will get your workout while on your trek up and down the steps leading to and from the basin. Grab a bite to eat at the snack bar and then stock-up on keepsakes and souvenirs at the gift shop.

 

 

family
When you need to cool off on a warm summer day, you will appreciate the cool mist of water from the cascading falls and the shady areas provided along the trail leading to the basin.

 Bushkill Falls is the “Niagara of Pennsylvania”


Why should you plan a trip to the Pocono Mountains’ region?

As the nights turn chillier and the leaves that adorn the trees of the Pocono Mountains fall to the ground and create a gentle blanket of vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange, celebrate fall by tuning into the sounds of freshly fallen leaves underfoot. Celebrate the four seasons in the Pocono Mountains.

“There’s something for everyone in the Pocono Mountains. It’s all here and that’s fortunate for us. Family time is part of the fabric of our lives. You remember those moments together.” Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum

Experience coal mine history

by Mike Korb

The Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum is an excellent place to experience a portion of the history of Pennsylvania Anthracite. Pat and I spent a few hours on a beautiful July day at the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum at Knoebels Amusement Resort. http://www.knoebels.com/ride-play/attractions/mining-museum.

Knoebels, “America’s Largest Free-Admission Amusement Resort” is located in the heart of the anthracite coal region in Pennsylvania.  This year, Knoebels is celebrating its 90th anniversary.

What will you find at Knoebels?

The air-conditioned museum opened in 1988 and is chock full of mine artifacts, stories, displays and great information about mining and life in the coal regions.  The visit was surely at the right price. Admission to the museum, amusement park, and parking are FREE.

Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum
Pressed pennies are one of Mike Korb’s obsessions.

A sock filled with money

The first thing I saw at the door to the museum is one of my obsessions – a squished penny machine. When I’m on vacation, I carry a sock filled with shiny new pennies and quarters on the chance there’s a machine.  I can insert two quarters and a penny, and presto: A 51 cent souvenir, with the die-pressed symbol of where you visited. But, I didn’t bring the sock with me, so I went to the gift shop counter and took two shiny pennies from the “need-a-penny” jar and got four quarters for a dollar.  I went home with the two mine museum squished pennies they had.  Knoebels gets new penny dies every year, and this year they have 37 different designs.  I guess I saved a bundle ($17.50) by forgetting the sock.

Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum
A reenactment of the Sheppton Mine Rescue (1963) with one of the actual rescue harnesses.

Go to the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum 

Genealogists and history buffs can pick up and read hand-written accident reports from the coal mines more than a hundred years ago. You can search a database for accidents involving your ancestors. See displays and models showing mining methods, tools, and equipment.  Finally, be sure to have your partner or a bystander take your picture outside driving a mine “Lokie” two years older than the park, and see other tracked mine equipment.

Most of the equipment in the museum are from the collection of the late Clarence “Mooch” Kashner of Coal Township. Kasner was once president of the Independent Miners, Breaker men, and Truckers union, and a retired PA State Mine Inspector.  He asked Peter Knoebel to display the artifacts and memorabilia he’d acquired throughout his career.  In 1988, the museum, a building built to resemble a coal breaker, was opened.

One of his pieces in the museum, a rough yoke fashioned from coveralls and a parachute harness, was used to pull one miner to the surface from a collapsed mine during the 1963 Sheppton Mine Rescue.  Because of the harness  Travel Channel visited Knoebels.  The museum, the mine rescue, and the harness were featured in one episode of the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries of the Museum” in 2013.  Watch the rerun on July 24 at 8 p.m. EST and 7 p.m.   (http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/mysteries-at-the-museum/episodes/sheppton-mine-disaster-bite-board-erie-collar-bomb) You can watch on July 24th at 8 PM, 7 p.m. Central.

There’s lots more to see and do at Knoebels.

Knoebels is ranked as one of the top-ten family amusement parks in the United States.  The first thing after the museum, you see the Black Diamond. We didn’t take the dark coaster ride through the coal mine on the Black Diamond, but you should.  Instead, we went through three more museums and exhibits.  I rode on the 103-year-old carousel and grabbed three brass rings without falling off my horse once. The Grand Carousel was voted the best carousel in the Golden Ticket Awards competition held by Amusement Today in 2007, and 2010 to 2015.  In addditon, Knoebels food has won the awards 13 times in the last 15 years.  Make sure you sample some  before you left the Park.

Our 39 mile “trek” to the Knoebels  Anthracite Coal Mine Museum was well worth the trip.

Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum
Mike Korb found many photo ops.

Bundle a trip to Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum and Pioneer Coal Mine Tour

When you’re planning your visit to Knoebels, you should also allow time to visit a nearby top ten tourist attraction in Pennsylvania.  Consider first scheduling a half-hour trip to the Pioneer Tunnel Mine Tour and “Lokie” ride in Ashland. (www.pioneertunnel.com)  This “newer” narrow gauge locomotive was built in 1927.  It is a 0-4-0 type Lokie that typically was used to haul coal from strip mines. I suggest you first take a trip on the train behind a Lokie in the morning and the Coal Mine Tour at noon.  In addition, get your picture taken in a Lokie and visit the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum in the afternoon. Maybe spend your evening on some of the rides on the bargain “Sundown Plan.”  Don’t miss all the photo ops.

Celebrate coal mine history 

Finally, join Pat and me on Sat., Aug. 20, 2016, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as we celebrate the 24th Annual Pioneer Day and the 53rd Anniversary of the Pioneer Tunnel Tour. Take a mine tour and a steam train ride.  Enjoy the special events that will be held adjacent to the tunnel.

In the works

Pioneer Tunnel will be adding a reconstructed mine headframe to its attractions, hopefully this fall.  I’ll write about it then.

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Anthracite Heritage Art and Culture Eckley Miners' Village Exhibits Lifestyle Museums Northeastern Pennsylvania

Anthracite Heritage – Eckley Miners’ Village

Anthracite Heritage

Eckley Miners’ Village Anthracite Heritage

We celebrated Patchtown Days and Slavic Fest 2016

by Mike Korb

Pat and I went to Eckley Miners’ Village for their annual “Patchtown Days,” a genuine commemoration of Anthracite Heritage. We had an opportunity to experience Slavic Fest 2016, a celebration of the customs and traditions of the Slavic peoples who emigrated to the anthracite coal region. Traditional music, food, living history, and crafts were all part of the lineup.  Pat’s family is Slovak. Her maiden name was Trubisky, before that maybe “Trubecki” in the Carpathians where her great grandparents came from in the 1870s.

We were at Eckley for a fun and eventful morning.  In the middle of the main street. we saw a play about prejudice against the Slavs presented by Eckley Players, a group of volunteers who dress in 1870s garb; Pat  ate “loksa”, a potato/flour pancake cooked on a coal stove in a Slavic summer kitchen; we talked to some University of Maryland archaeology students on a dig on Eckley’s Back Street;  we listened to Slavic music;  Pat fed a therapy donkey and decided not to buy a corn straw broom; people ate haluski, pierogi, halupki while I had hot dogs and watched them.  Seems like it was a great day for a good time in a relaxed setting.

Pat Korb at Eckley Miners’ Village

 

The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines heritage tourism as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past.”

Eckley Miners’ Village is heritage tourism.  

Most of all, it tells the story of anthracite heritage and people through the preservation and exploration of the site. It is helped by these cultural festivals. http://eckleyminersvillage.com Next year’s Patchtown Days will be a celebration of Irish culture.

Eckley Miners’ Village was founded in 1854. But it is a village frozen in time.  Consequently, you see a company town that housed miners and their families, a doctor, a company store, and churches. The town also had the coal mine and the “breaker” where the mined coal was sized for market.  These often were the only places immigrant families could afford to live.  In the early 1900s, Pennsylvania had more company towns, which were known as “coal patches,” than any other state in the nation.

Eckley survives, a relic of anthracite mining heritage, because of a movie.  The 1968  motion picture “The Molly Maguires,” starring Sean Connery, Richard Harris, and Samantha Eggar scenes were mostly filmed there.  The homes and streets were restored to circa 1870 and a prop breaker and other period structures were erected for the movie. You’ll want to  rent or buy the movie, a lost American film classic, at Amazon or Netflix. (http://www.movies.com/molly-maguires/m47145)   I’ll write more about the “Mollies” in Anthracite Heritage in future posts.

In 1971, the village of Eckley was bought “lock, stock, and barrel” by Hazleton (nine miles west of Eckley) businessmen.  They donated it to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to transform the quiet village into the country’s first mining-town museum. http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/portal/communities/pa-heritage/jewel-in-crown-old-king-coal-eckley-miners-village.html

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has active support by the Eckley Miners’ Village Associates, a non-profit community-based organization. Eckley is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.  Take a guided tour at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m., Monday-Saturday (at 2 p.m. on Sunday).  Treat yourself to a nice quiet stroll through history. Haunted Halloween Lantern Tours and Christmas at Eckley are two of the special events offered throughout the year.  

1940s WWII Weekend

Consider attending the 1940s WWII Weekend August 6 and 7, which will include a Swing Dance to a live band on Saturday evening at the Freeland Public Park Pavilion, four miles north of Eckley at 401 Front St., Freeland. 

Photo courtesy of Eckley Miners’ Village

 

Anthracite Heritage
View of the Eckley Miners’ Village from the mining engineer house…Photos by Mike Korb

 

Eckley’s 1940 anthracite mining engineer’s  reflects the  home front  in the region, the subject of the weekend.  It seems like it was an interesting time in Northeastern PA.  

In 1940, more than half the US homes were heated with coal – 88 percent in Pennsylvania.  However, anthracite production and employment were cut in half from 1918 and the biggest company had filed for bankruptcy in 1937.  Although the war years brought production back, labor shortages with increased production  caused problems . Some results were labor problems and collusion between companies.  The push for more coal caused much of the extensive environmental derogation that  led to many of today’s abandoned mine land problems.

You can see a good  film in the public domain about the 1940s in anthracite online at http://www.buyoutfootage.com/pages/titles/pd_na_428.php#.V3EEIsuV91s

I don’t dance, but I DO plan to visit the WWII Weekend.


3 other Anthracite Heritage festivals you won’t want to miss:

 

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Art and Culture Exhibits Museums Northeastern Pennsylvania

Anthracite Heritage Tourism

anthracite heritage tourism

Anthracite Heritage Tourism

“Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!”

by Mike Korb

Over 60 percent of the world’s anthracite coal is deposited in Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA).  During the 19th century, anthracite coal was the fuel that ignited the Industrial Revolution. When you take an anthracite heritage tour, there is lots to see and lots to learn about in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania – 484 square miles in nine counties, between Harrisburg and Forest City. When you travel the 150-mile trip up Interstate 81 and across US Route 6 and make one of the many eye-opening side trips through the coalfields, you will ride along a ridge, looking into deep valleys, over steep hills, along streams and rivers, and find yourself surrounded by spectacular scenery. You’ll see cities, mountains, unique small towns, and hear and learn distinctive stories and traditions. And those are just a few of the characteristics of anthracite heritage tourism that are something unlike anything else – Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have! 

The story of the anthracite coalfields is a legacy of labor history, ethnic diversity, and pride, creating a working-class culture that made America great. One-hundred years ago in this scenic area, 180,000 hard-working miners were producing the coal that created modern America.  It’s a real believe-it-or-not experience when you read and hear the work these guys did when you see it yourself on a journey into an underground mine. I’m inviting you to come and explore NEPA to enjoy the one of a kind anthracite heritage tourism, recreation, sights, stories and adventures waiting for you here in the coal regions.

I’m Mike Korb, a mining engineering graduate of the Missouri School of Mines in Rolla Missouri. I’ve been working in the mining industry for more than 50 years in management, executive, professional, supervisory, consulting, and technical jobs; worked in bituminous coal, iron ore, limestone, industrial sand, copper and slag mining operations and more than 20 years in the anthracite coal fields here in NEPA. The past eight years I worked for Pennsylvania in Abandoned Mine Reclamation until May 13, when I became a “mining, reclamation, management, heritage development consultant,” retired.  Always before now when I called myself a “consultant ” it was because I was looking for a job. Now I don’t want to work full time anymore but I don’t want to stop working either. I want to continue being an advocate for mining and coal, responsible environmental management, economic development on previously mined lands and heritage development and preservation.

Right now I’m working to start a group to promote and facilitate tourism of the heritage, history, culture and natural beauty of the entire anthracite region and to educate and apprise about the features and events that demonstrate them. Joan has graciously offered to allow me to blog on her Visit Northeastern Pennsylvania page and I plan to talk with you about what that organization is doing and about the great attractions and events that are related to anthracite mining heritage, at least until she gives me “the hook.” I’m working on the name of it, which likely will be the Anthracite Heritage Alliance (AHA).

 anthracite heritage tourism

I was an immigrant to the anthracite region more than 40 years ago.  I moved to Hazleton on Valentine’s Day 1974.  My good wife Pat (some call her St. Pat for being married to me for nearly 50 years) and I had looked at houses in Jim Thorpe, Lansford, Palmerton, Pottsville, Nesquehoning, Coaldale, and Lehighton, to name a few, and I think probably every town in a 25-mile radius of Tamaqua, where I was working at the anthracite mining operation Bethlehem Steel bought from the Fauzio Brothers.

When we first looked at the region, it looked like a pretty dreary place, with lots of gray landscapes, but we discovered the people were amazing friends and neighbors and it was a great place to learn about the industrial revolution, labor history, and immigrant communities. We found it a remarkable place to live. We moved away for nearly ten years for a job on the west coast but came back because it’s such a good place to be.  It’s also somewhere you’ll want to visit.  The area has some fantastic mining heritage tourist attractions, including two state anthracite heritage museums and three underground mine tours, and the Molly Maguires; and hundreds of potentially great ones. I’ve taken dozens of groups on heritage and mining tours here and haven’t touched the coal dust on more than a fraction of them. One tour I led a couple years ago was called “Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!” You don’t want to miss what you can see and experience on these tours.  We have big open pit mining operations, magnificent architecture, churches, museums, ethnic food, iron furnaces; and historical sites – places that literally changed American history, economics, labor.

We were the “old country” for people who moved to Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, California, and their grandchildren.  How many people in the United States had a “grandfather who worked in the mines?”  And wouldn’t it be neat to show the kids where grandpa worked or a place where grandma made her home?  You can do both of those and lots more in NEPA.

AHA will develop a strong partnership network focusing on shared anthracite heritage issues, in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Schuylkill, Carbon, Columbia and Northumberland Counties – across the entire anthracite coal region, and help address legacy mining issues.  The partnership network will attempt to include all of the mining, historical, environmental, cultural, heritage, stories and tourism aspects of the anthracite region, and I hope to tell about its growth, the “Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!” and the anthracite heritage tourism places and events you should visit in NEPA. I can also help answer questions about places you want to know.waver

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Art and Culture Exhibits Museums Northeastern Pennsylvania

Artists Give New Life to Books

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  • June 2, 2016

Artists transform mass-produced books

“Between the Covers: Altered Books in Contemporary Art”

Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui

Artists giving new life to books as unique works of art is the premise behind Between the Covers: Altered Books in Contemporary Art, a must-see exhibit due to close in a matter of days at The Everhart Museum of Natural History & Art in Scranton.

 

 

 

 

 

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