Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lancaster, PA with a Twist

Many people believe that these treats, called pretzels, were first created by Italian monks in the seventh century as rewards for children who had learned their prayers and bible verses.
Today, pretzels are sold in every grocery store, every convenience store, and every vending machine in the United States. A little portion of the history of this salty, crunchy snack lies right here in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County.
The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery is the first commercial pretzel bakery in the country. It was established in 1861 by a bread baker: Lititz native and businessman Julius Sturgis.
Legend has it that Julius Sturgis obtained the recipe for the pretzels from a hobo to whom he offered hospitality. The man was said to have come in on the train which ran behind the bakery, and he supposedly gave the recipe to Sturgis out of gratitude for something to eat and a warm place to sit. Though the legend is fun, there is little to no basis for it in fact. No one really knows what prompted Sturgis to switch from bread to pretzels.
Today, the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery offers visitors a chance to see how pretzels were made 150 years ago and how they are made today. Tour guides tell about the history of pretzel baking in America and visitors even get the chance to twist a pretzel themselves.

Other pretzel bakeries in Lancaster County include Keystone Pretzels, also in Lititz, Martin’s Pretzels of Akron, and the Intercourse Pretzel Factory. These factories offer outlet stores and tours of their facilities.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Happened On the Way to Gettysburg:

What Happened On the Way to Gettysburg: the Burning of the Columbia Wrightsville Bridge

A Little History
The bridge that is associated with the events just prior to the Battle of Gettysburg is technically the second Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge. The first was destroyed by ice in the early 1830’s. The second Columbia–Wrightsville Bridge, a covered bridge just like the first, was begun in mid-1832 and was completed in 1834.
The bridge was built by James Moore and John Evans and cost $157,300. The bridge was more than a mile long and held the distinction of being the world’s longest covered bridge.
The bridge was constructed of wood and stone and included a carriageway, walkway, and two towpaths to guide canal traffic across the river. Tolls were equal to $23 today for a wagon with 6 horses and equal to $1.40 today for each pedestrian.
The Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge and the Civil War
The bridge played its role in the advancement of the Civil War when it was burned on June 28, 1863. Union militia leaders Maj. Granville O. Haller and Col. Jacob G. Frick led the civilian volunteers from Columbia, on the Lancaster County side of the Susquehanna River, in mining the bridge to deter the advance of Confederate troops looking to move East or North. When the volunteers detonated the explosives, however, only part of the bridge was destroyed, leaving enough still passable.
The Confederate troops advanced, confirming the fears that the people of Columbia had held for days. As a last effort to destroy the bridge, the volunteers set fire to it near the Wrightsville (York County) side where they had saturated it with oil from a nearby refinery.

It took six hours for the bridge to be reduced to ash, thwarting the plans of Confederate generals Jubal A. Early and John B. Gordon to save it.
In preventing General Early’s march eastward, the burning of the bridge set the stage for the location of the Battle of Gettysburg—which in turn changed the direction of the Civil War.
The Anniversary Events
This year, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the both the burning of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge and the Battle of Gettysburg, the town of Columbia will be hosting events.
According to an article from the Morning Call, an Allentown newspaper, the events will take place on June 28 and will start around 7:00 p.m. This event should be worth the time of anyone arriving in the area for the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Gettysburg 150th Schedule of Events

During the Gettysburg 150th event during the summer of 2013, many different activities will take place. This list is a glimpse at the long schedule of commemorative events, lectures and re-enactments that surround the 150th anniversary of the battle that many call the turning point of the Civil War.

June 7-October 19, Carlisle: An exhibition of “First Hand Civil War Era Drawings” will be on display at the Trout Gallery, Tuesdays through Saturdays.

June 15: The National Military Park’s Brass Band will be in concert at the park visitor center and at the Pennsylvania Memorial on the battlefield.

June 16: National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center will open a new exhibit entitled “Treasures of the Civil War.”
June 29: Orrtanna.  The Adams County Winery will host a 150th Gettysburg Commemoration Family festival during the afternoon hours featuring interactive events, demonstrations, re-enactors, and speeches by scholars. This is a free event.

July 1: Gettysburg 150th Commemorative Event
This event is held at the National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. It features an 18-minute dramatization about the Wheatfield and Medal of Honor recipient James Jackson Purman by actor and playwright Steven Lang. The cost for the event is $100 per person, which supports the 150th preservation, acquisition and education projects. The registration deadline is May 1. Tickets and details:339-2148 or

July 1-4: National Park Service Special Ranger Programs
  • Living history camps: July 1-3, these history camps illustrate Union and Confederate soldier life near the Pennsylvania Memorial and Pitzer’s Woods.

  • Overview hikes: July 1-4, these hour-long tours visit different phases of the Battle of Gettysburg and the rangers discuss movements and their aftermath.

  • Battlefield experience programs: Rangers speak about different turning points in the battle at the approximate time they occurred 150 years ago. On July 3, a commemorative march will occur at the area of Pickett’s Charge, with visitors playing the roles of Confederate attackers and Union defenders.

  • Voices of the battle: 7:30 p.m. July 1-4. During these discussions, military and civilian reenactors describe experiences during and after the battle.

  • "Kids and Family" activities: July 1-4, an activities center will be set up outside the museum and visitor center, and July 1-3 an interactive Signal Corps station will be set up near General Meade's Headquarters. During this event, children can earn a 150th anniversary Junior Ranger patch by completing a book associated with the anniversary activities.

July 2: In Adams County, the Battle of Hanover will be re-enacted. This battle was a minor skirmish that delayed JEB Stuart in his rejoining General Lee in the Gettysburg campaign.

For more events and activities schedules, visit the Battle of Gettysburg 150th Anniversary: 2013 Schedule of Events.