Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Relaxing Trip to Pennsylvania's Amish Countryside

It's been some time since I've updated this blog, which is a shame, but COVID-19, not to mention civil unrest, has put a damper on everything and that includes travel. Last month, my husband and I decided to revisit Berkeley Springs West Virginia--a place I hadn't been to since my infamous water tasting, which is referenced in an earlier post here. If you've never been to that part of West Virginia, it's quite cute and I didn't have to hear about COVID everywhere I went. I blogged about the area, which you can read about by clicking here. We were welcomed warmly and thoroughly enjoyed our stay, but enough about West Virginia, I'm here to share a few details about some of the smaller towns located within a short driving distance of New Holland in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County.

Amish transportation
Horses and buggies are common transportation in Lancaster County.
Last week we moved into a cute little rancher located on Ranck Road in New Holland. The house we rented through VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) served as our base camp for four nights and served up a little slice of  what it would be like to live in the area. The drawbacks? Well, first of all, we discovered that the living room lacked air conditioning--literally not cool when the days temps soared into the upper 90's. We also learned that in order to keep a cell phone signal we had to trudge the length of the front yard and stand near the street. We also discovered that the place lacked a television, which was quite a surprise. I'm glad I toted along my bag full of periodicals and an interesting tome written by Bill Bryson titled, "At Home: A Short History of Private Life," which I highly recommend, by the way.

Additional distractions included an adjacent horse farm, beautiful landscaping throughout the property and several friendly neighborhood cats.
yellow blooms
The yellow flowers helped us spot where to turn into our driveway.


Pretty pink lilies bloom on the property.

The friendly horses included two miniature ponies. 

horse sticking out tongue
This guy had a gum problem, according to the owners, who assured
 us that he still eats very well.
calico cat
This cute cat reminds me of a long haired cat I used to own.

horse at fence
The horses came up to the fence to greet us.
Even though I could have spent time there working on articles, I thought it better to clear the decks so I didn't have a thing to do but a bit of sightseeing and, of course, some reading.

Each day we spent some time driving through neighboring towns, past bucolic farms, through dappled woodlands, and over rolling hills, while encountering the occasional horse and buggy. If you've ever visited Lancaster County, you'll understand how this alone is a beautiful experience.

During our stay, we learned more about the Amish, spent some time poking around food and book stores, visited boutique shops and purchased some unusual plants at an Amish greenhouse chock full of bargains.

In this area of Lancaster County, visitors will encounter a mix of business owners, from Mennonites, to Amish and of course, "Englishers," or non-Amish.

First Stop Kitchen Kettle Village
If you like to browse small shops featuring unique items, you'll find Kitchen Kettle Village in the heart of the small town of Intercourse. The Village is a third-generation family business that is comprised of 40 shops, restaurants and lodging.

gift shop
The Inn at Kitchen Kettle Village is conveniently surrounded by shops and restaurants.

The Inn at Kitchen Kettle Village is a three-star hotel which enables tourists to stay in the heart of the action. It is comprised of seven one-and-two bedroom suites and 11 guestrooms.

The Gift House, located in the foreground of the picture, carries a large selection of gifts, from jewelry, to souvenirs, soaps and home decor.

Other businesses sell everything from jellies and jams, to quilts, candles, leather, furniture and baked goods.

country shop
The Country Life shop sells primitive country accents and locally made furniture.
painting of a winter scene
Dutchland Galleries represents local and regional artists.

Hot sauces with humorous names can be found at The Aged and Cured Cheese & Meat Shoppe.
oil and vinegar shop
The Olive Basin offers premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

Brighton Collectibles features leather purses, shoes and a nice selection of jewelry.

The Jam & Relish Kitchen carries a large selection of jams, jellies, mustard and more.
Additional Shopping Opportunities
If you like books, you'll find a number of independent bookstores in Lancaster County, such as the Gordonville Book Store where you can find Amish cookbooks, fiction and non-fiction books, games and toys and homeschooling materials. As a tutor, I sometimes have a difficult time finding workbooks and other supplies, so I was glad to stumble on this place, along with the Clay Book Store in Ephrata, which carries much the same.

If you like plants, you'll get a bargain at Town's Edge Greenhouse. I purchased these succulents for  mere $4.99 each and the English ivy for $1.99.

Succulents sold at a good price at Town's Edge Greenhouse.

This plant is known as a "Propeller plant" and is endemic to South Africa, so I hope I don't kill it.
The Amish Farm and House
When you pull up to the parking lot of the local Target and see The Amish Farm and House, it's a bit confusing and anachronistic until you learn during the tour that the House was there first and the Amish Farm and House was the first Amish attraction in the United States. The attraction is open seven days a week; house tours are held throughout the day and last a total of 30 minutes.

During the tour, visitors are ushered through the living room and kitchen of the 1805 farmhouse and then led upstairs to see how the family lived. Our guide Dale said that he'd been working there for 52 years. "I figured it was easier than farm work," he said,with a chuckle.

Visitors on the tour will learn that the land on which the house sits was deeded by Thomas Penn (son of William Penn) to John Evans, who served as Governor of Pennsylvania in the early 1700's. In later years, the house and farm was run by an Amish family who worked as tenant farmers.

The kitchen at the Amish Farm and House.
This stove likely saw a lot of activity back in the day.

Amish clothes
Upstairs at the Amish Farm and House.
Guests will learn many other interesting things about the Amish during the house tour, including how their numbers grew from only 18 original families to 350,000 people today, with 40,000 Amish in Lancaster alone. Today you can find Amish in 31 states and four provinces of Canada, but none on our nation's West Coast.

Included in the price of the house tour is a self-guided farm tour where visitors will see a summer kitchen, a blacksmith shop, a tobacco shed, a bake oven, a smokehouse, a lime kiln, a spring house, a  "cucumber pump" and more. Cows, chickens, peacocks and goats are of particular interest to the younger visitors.
Der  Bock Offe
"Der Bock Offe." The Bake Oven was removed from a mid-eighteenth century house near Christiana and is approximately 250 years old. It's estimated that fewer than a dozen exist in Lancaster County.

Tobacco dries in the drying house.
A play area is also a hit with the young visitors.
kid goats
Goats relax on a warm summer day.

A cow stands in the water to cool off.
Sitting on bench
Visitor Craig Nye relaxes on a cow bench. 
If you sign up for the Farm and House tour, followed by the self-guided farm tour, my recommendation is that you set aside one to 1.5 hours to see everything, including the Willow Lane One-Room Schoolhouse, also located on the farm.
The Willow Lane One-Room Schoolhouse.
The Willow Lane One-Room Schoolhouse is Lancaster County's only one-room school house opened specifically to the public. Inside visitors will see a working gas stove, gas lights, Amish artwork completed by local Amish children, games, posters and more.

Before leaving, don't forget to check out the unique items in the gift shop like this one below.

Amish quilt made of clay
An Amish "quilt" crafted of clay.
Good Eats

The exterior of the Revere Tavern on a rainy evening.
If you enjoy history and delicious food, you'll love the historic Revere Tavern in Paradise. The Revere Tavern dates back to 1740 and was formerly known as the "Sign of the Spread Eagle" and was a "Stage Tavern." According to the owners, it was one of the better inns along the 62 miles of turnpike stretching from Philadelphia to Lancaster and therefore catered to the more prosperous class of travelers with fine spirits and hearty food.

Almost a century later, the tavern would become the residence of Reverend Edward V. Buchanan and his wife Eliza Foster Buchanan, sister of Stephen Foster who was known as the "Father of American Music" and wrote such familiar refrains as "My Olde Kentucky Home" and "Oh Susanna."

A plaque mounted inside of the Revere Tavern.

Over the years, my husband and I have visited their bar for a drink while in town, but we never took the time to dine in the tavern until this visit. After tasting the delicious food, we were kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner.
The old bar at the Revere Tavern.

steak dinner
The steak and asparagus far exceeded expectations..perfection.

During the winter, the fireplace is employed.
Another dining place I can highly recommend is The Greenfield Restaurant and Bar in Lancaster.

Greenfield restaurant exterior
The exterior of The Greenfield Restaurant and Bar.

red hot pokers
Flowers bloom out front. 


Greenfield bar
The Bar at the Greenfield Restaurant and Bar.

shrimp cocktail
Shrimp served at the Greenfield Restaurant and Bar.

The Farmer's Market salad topped with a champagne vinaigrette and an over-easy egg.
The upscale eatery is housed in the former farm home of the Clymer family. Chef John Moeller once worked at the White House and turns out perennial favorites like crab cakes, steaks, chicken, pork chops, lobster and more. A friend of mine who lives in the area said that the restaurant has a fantastic reputation of turning out consistently good food and I was happy to have the opportunity to experience it.

A Rooftop Bar in Lancaster
One of the newest destinations in Lancaster County is The Exchange. When I decided to visit downtown Lancaster, this is the first place I wanted to go and was relieved to find them open since you never know when it comes to closings and COVID.

We arrived too early to witness the place in all its splendor, from the huge light fixture that must look spectacular at night, to the fire tables that are lit at dusk.

seating area

seating at rooftop bar

open kitchen
I would have loved to have seen this incredible light fixture lit up at night.

rooftop bar

seating at rooftop bar
Cozy seating everywhere.

city view from rooftop bar
Not a bad view.

view from roof

rooftop bar

We each enjoyed a craft cocktail before making our way to our next reservation, but we do hope to return to try the food made by Chef Ryan McQuillan. McQuillan made a name for himself having worked under George Perrier at Philly's Le Bec Fin and having served as head chef at Kennett Square's Talula's Table. McQuillan creates casual fare for The Exchange using fresh ingredients that celebrate Lancaster's bounty.

That's All for Now
I'm glad to, once again, be documenting some of my excursions and hope to post another blog in a few weeks when I visit another area where the pace of life is slow and easy. I hope to report back on my next trip to Salisbury Maryland in a few weeks and am anticipating that I will once again return home relaxed and recharged, which is just as it should be.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

A Break from the Ordinary in Historic Columbia

Columbia, located in picturesque Lancaster County, is an area rich in history. Formerly known as “Wright’s Ferry, the small town was founded in 1726 by Colonial English Quakers from Chester County and was once considered as a choice for our nation’s capital.
For those itching to plan a day trip, Columbia doesn’t disappoint, especially for history buffs. There are historic structures to tour and old businesses to visit and even a national museum containing contents that have withstood the test of time.

View the Site of the Famous Wrightsville Bridge

The Wrightsville Bridge.

The summer of 1863 was a pivotal time during the civil war. The Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania, captured York, and set its sights on Harrisburg and Philadelphia. To achieve their goals, the Confederates plotted to cross the Susquehanna River via the Wrightsville Bridge at Columbia. Upon learning this, Union forces made the fateful decision to set fire to the Wrightsville Bridge to keep the Confederate troops at bay. The fire quickly spread, completely destroying the longest-covered wooden bridge in the world.

Today’s Columbia-Wrightsville bridge, known as the Veterans Memorial Bridge, was built in 1930 and is heralded by architectural engineers to be one of the best examples of a multi-span, reinforced-concrete arched bridge from the early 20th century.

Learn about the History of Time at the National Watch and Clock Museum

The National Watch and Clock Museum, located at 514 Poplar Street, is dedicated to the history, science and art of timekeeping. The museum houses approximately 12,000 items from all over the world, from early non-mechanical devices like water clocks and sundials, to pocket watches, tall clocks, shelf clocks, calendar clocks, novelty clocks and today’s more modern timepieces.
clock museum
The entrance to the National Watch and Clock Museum.

The beautiful foyer of the Watch and Clock Museum 

Grand Statuary Clock by E. Farcot, Paris, late 1800s. 

antique clock
Ossippee Mantel Clock circa 1900.

train clocks
Railway time was created for a standardized system of timekeeping to avoid the confusion that resulted from having non-uniform local times in each town.

antique picture clock
The foxes eyes move in this picture clock, circa 1890, Germany. 

Old advertising clocks.
A short lecture and demonstration of the “Engle Monumental Clock,” is held several times a day at the museum, so be sure to inquire at the front desk for exact times. Once known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the clock, crafted by Hazleton resident Stephen Decatur Engle, took 20 years to construct and was completed by 1878.

The Engle Monumental Clock
View from the rear interior.

The mechanical marvel was displayed on tour throughout the Eastern United States for a total of 70 years and crowds paid between 15 and 25 cents per person to see it in action.
The National Watch and Clock Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from January to March and Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April to December.

Visit a 124-year-old Business
The beloved institution known as Hinkle’s has been serving Columbia residents for years. The family owned and operated business not only dispenses prescriptions, but also carries a range of items from toiletries, to gifts, cards and holiday decorations.
50s-era diner
Hinkle's has been renovated since I took this picture, much to the dismay of some.
The restaurant, often referred to as a “landmark among locals” is a throwback to the days of yore and elicits a tinge of nostalgia among those of a certain age.  Mike Clark, a writer and Columbia native, said the business has grown over the years. “When I was a kid in the ‘50s, Hinkle’s was a small pharmacy, with magazines and a soda fountain where you could order ice cream and cherry coke, which was my favorite.” Clark said it has since grown into the ‘town hub.’ “People from all generations get together there and talk. It’s like ‘Cheers,’ where everybody knows your name.”

The eatery, with its old-school lunch counter, reasonable prices and cozy booths in shades of teal, possesses that home-town feel of days gone by. Waitresses traverse a path between tables to serve customers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The array of items include homemade soups, sandwiches, omelets, steaks, and the popular “Shifter” sandwich. Once a favorite of the railroad workers who ran the switch engines, the “shifter” is comprised of ham and cheese, lettuce, tomato, sweet pickle and mayo.

Antiques Galore
antique market door


Columbia is known for its plentiful antique shops, many of which beckon visitors with “open” flags. A 20,000 square foot building located at 304 Walnut Street is particularly impressive. Named “Burning Bridge Antiques,” the business was once home to a carriage shop, a sewing factory and a hardware store. When Willis Herr and his sons heard rumors that the building was going to be razed to make room for a parking lot, they set about to save the historic structure. They succeeded, not only in saving the building, but also restoring it to its original condition. With its original pressed tin ceiling, wood flooring and American chestnut mill work, it’s a beauty to behold and is home to more than 250 vendors.
antique market stairs

Explore Early American Banking


historic bank

antique eyeglasses

The First National Bank Museum of Columbia tells a story about the 371st bank to be chartered in the United States. Brothers Solomon and Samuel Detweiler, who opened for business in 1864 with $100,000 capital, ran the bank from the first floor of their home located at 170 Locust Street.

When the owners died, the property was passed down to other family members who eventually willed it to the Columbia Free Public Library, who subsequently put it on the market four years later.

Nora Motter Stark’s parents purchased the 6,500 square-foot property and the rest is history. “When my father purchased it in the 1950’s, my mom thought he was crazy because it was considered to be a bit of a white elephant, which had been neglected for a few years. She was a little apprehensive, but my dad saw past all of that,” said Stark.

Today, she and her husband live in her childhood home and maintain a museum where the bank once operated.  Visitors can view the custom-crafted teller cages made of black walnut and the president’s desk crafted of the same material.
antique teller cage

bank vault


A room adjacent to the banking area is open to the public and guests can just imagine the Board of Directors conducting business around the large table which sits in front of an impressive fireplace festooned with tiles Stark believes may have been crafted by Henry Chapman Mercer.
First national bank museum owner

Tours are available by appointment and arrangements can be made by visiting the website at Many thanks to Mark Van Scyoc for the beautiful photos.

Tour an Old Glass Factory

glass grinding

The Susquehanna Glass Factory dates back to 1910 when Albert Roye installed a glass-cutting machine in a shed behind his yard and opened for business. Two years later, his brother joined him and today the company is still going strong, operating at 731 Avenue H, not far from that original shed.
glass grinding

The family owned-and-operated business specializes in customizing glassware, sand etching, color screening, laser etching and rotary engraving and offers factory tours on request.

glass polishing

Step into History at Wright's Ferry Mansion
Autumn at the Wright's Ferry Mansion.
Those visiting the area from May through October, can tour one of the first homes erected in the area. Situated near the Susquehanna River at 38 S. Second Street, This historic property tells the story of Susanna Wright, a native of Lancashire England who immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1714 and in 1728 settled in Columbia. Her two-and-a-half story limestone dwelling is known as the only Pennsylvania English Quaker House furnished exclusively to the first half of the 18th century.
Susanna was the daughter of John Wright, who established an animal-powered ferry as one of the first means of crossing the Susquehanna River. She was versed in Latin and Italian and fluent in French. The highly respected businesswoman was also a noted poetess and scholar and friend of early Pennsylvania luminaries like Ben Franklin.
Columbia's Wright's Ferry Mansion
Wright's Ferry Mansion (front view)
Curator Elizabeth Meg Schaefer, who authored the 304-page book titled, Wright’s Ferry Mansion, The House, said, “Wright was one of the first people in Pennsylvania to raise silkworms and, with her brother, grew flax for linen, hemp for rope and coarse cloth, hops for beer and ale and had a notable orchard. She was exceptional in her versatile intellect and the breadth of her knowledge and interests.”
Elizabeth Meg Shafer's book
The front of Elizabeth Meg Shafer's book titled, "Wright's Ferry Mansion," The House.
Visitors will pass through the Dutch door and step into the brick entryway where they can view the formal parlor, explore the clock room used for studying, entertaining and conducting business and marvel at the kitchen with its expansive hearth and squirrel-tale oven. Upstairs, guests will get a peek into the rooms where Wright and her brother slept and where she likely raised her silkworms.

Shaefer, with her encyclopedic knowledge of Wright and the mansion, invites guests’ questions and leaves patrons with a real sense of what it was like to have lived as a prominent proponent of colonial self-sufficiency in 18th-century Pennsylvania.

On a separate note, I had the opportunity to visit West Chester a year or so ago to view the works of historical artist Adrian Martinez. Among his collection is an outstanding work depicting Susanna Wright.
artist Adrian Martinez
Historical artist Adrian Martinez.
historical painting
Artist Adrian Martinez depicts Susanna Wright in this painting.
The Wright's Ferry Mansion is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from May through October.

These are just a few suggestions to make the most of a visit to Columbia, Pennsylvania where many historic gems await.