Lancaster County, PA
Lancaster County is located in the south central part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is at times referred to using its common nicknames: Pennsylvania Dutch Country or Garden Spot of America. Lancaster is its county seat and is considered to have an estimated population of 519,445 people based on the 2010 census results. The County is a popular destination for tourists, majorly due to the Amish community and attractions within the area. Lancaster County has some residents who speak with a dialect influenced by Pennsylvania Dutch. Often, this dialect is utilized in Lancaster, York, Lebanon, and Harrisburg areas.
The County is bordered by Lebanon County to the north, Berks County to the northeast, and Chester County to the east. Cecil and Harford border Lancaster County to the south, while York County borders it to the west. Dauphin County is also located to the north-western side of Lancaster. Lancaster County features a number of cities, boroughs, and townships. Among the 18 boroughs in Lancaster, Christiana is the least populated while Ephrata is the most populous as per the 2010 census. Furthermore, there are about 40 townships in the County.
William Penn’s 1681 charter owned the area that is now regarded as Lancaster County. Since then, the County was considered to be a part of Chester County, Pennsylvania. However, on 10th May, 1729 it was organized to be the fourth county in the state. It was then named ‘Lancaster’ based on the city of Lancaster located in the county of Lancashire, England. This city was the native home of John Wright, one of the initial settlers. Six other counties – Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon, Northumberland, and York – were established from the territory taken directly or in part from Lancaster County. Several other counties were then developed from the six.
In its early years, Lancaster exhibited a diversity of settlers in its townships. For instance, two of the settlers had Welsh names, three had Native American names, six were English, and four were Irish. Apart from the diversity of settlers in the county, the 19th- century was considered to be the most historic for the county. In this century, James Buchanan, a democrat was elected to serve as the 15th President of the Unite States in 1856. Buchanan was a native son of Lancaster County, and is the only Pennsylvanian to ever hold the presidency. Buchanan’s home (Wheatland) is now operated as a house museum in Lancaster.
Thaddeus Stevens also served Lancaster County in the United States House of Representatives from 1849 until 1853, as well as from 1859 until his death in 1868. Stevens was a noted Radical Republican who left a bequest of $50,000 to start an orphanage. Eventually, this property was developed and named the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. This college is currently owned by the state.
Lancaster County boasts of a few inventions within its history of development. One such invention was the first battery-powered watch, christened the Hamilton Electric 500. This watch was released by the Hamilton Watch Company in 1957. Other inventions that were introduced in Lancaster County include the Pennsylvania Long Rifle, Conestoga wagon, the Stogie cigar, and the Amish quilt.
The county is also home to a number of protected areas. One such protected area is the Susquehannock State Park that is located on 91 ha of land, overlooking the Susquehanna River in Drumore Township. There are also Pennsylvania State Game Lands that are suitable for hunting, fishing, and trapping. At the southern border of Lancaster, there are a few protected serpentine barrens. This is a rare ecosystem where the toxic metals in the soil constrain the growth and development of plants. It also encourages the formation of savanna and grasslands.
This County has a strong farming industry, with fertile non-irrigated soil. It has about 5293 farms that generate $800 million in food, fibre, and feed. With such capacity, the Lancaster is responsible for close to a fifth of the agricultural output of the state. Chester County closely follows Lancaster in production due to its high-value mushroom farms. Out of the $800 million generated from the farms, raising of livestock is responsible for close to $710 Million. Out of this, poultry and eggs account for $258 million. Dairy farming accounts for $266 million, while cattle and swine account for about $90 million. Due to this capability, agriculture is likely to remain as an imperative aspect of Lancaster County.
Apart from agriculture, tourism is also a significant industry in the County since it employs over 47,000 people. However, the face of tourism has a new and unique face due to the effect of the 9/11 attacks. Initially, the conventional style would be that families and groups arrive in the County for a 3-4 day general visit. But, most visitors now visit for specific events. Most people who have been to Lancaster County love it and keep coming back year after year. The county has continuously promoted visits to its historic and attractive covered bridges. There are over 200 covered bridges still in existence. This is the highest number to have ever been recorded anywhere else across the world. Specifically, the county has about 29 covered bridges, considered to be the largest share ever across the world.
Other tourist attractions in Lancaster County, PA include the Landis Valley Museum, American Music Theatre, Hans Herr House, Ephrata Cloister, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Dutch Wonderland, Ephrata Fair, Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Robert Fulton Birthplace, Wheatland, as well as Sturgis Pretzel House among many others. Apart from these attractions, there are also very many tours to historic areas. One such tour is the Downtown Lancaster Walking Tour.
Whenever you visit Lancaster, PA, you will experience a countryside that is steeped with much art, history, fun, and creativity. Apart from the exciting history, the county has no shortage of unique and exciting things to do. Both locals and visitors can always find something interesting to do at this destination. Many people visit the County to enjoy an authentic PA Amish experience, to shop, to explore the vibrant downtown, or even to enjoy the great outdoor activities.
Lancaster County, PA