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Capital of Fun Factory Tours
Here, in the heart of south-central Pennsylvania, more than a dozen manufacturing facilities offer visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how their products are manufactured. Many of the tours are free and include samples of products or have on-site outlet stores.
Some tours require advance reservations, although it’s always a good idea to call ahead and check on tour times and requirements or restrictions (such as no open-toed shoes or a minimum age for tour participation). Although ample parking is available at all of these sites, you may want to ask about the best place to park, especially if you drive a large rig. In addition to the factory tours, you can visit several family-owned and boutique wineries on the UnCork York Wine Trail for tours and tastings.
For a complete listing of factory tours, wineries and other indulgent York County attractions, call (888) 858-YORK (9675) or visit their Web site, www.yorkpa.org to request a free York County Visitor’s Guide. The publication, including a map insert locating all the factory tours, is also available at the York County Visitors Information Center.
Down on the Farm
Enjoy a self-guided tour of the dairy at Perrydell Farm in York, (717) 741-3485. This third-generation, family-owned dairy farm has been bottling its own milk since 1963. Depending on the time of day, you might see calves being fed, milked in the milking parlor, or milk being bottled. Be sure to stop by the farm market for a hand-dipped ice cream cone or some fresh veggies.
On the Snack-Food Trail
York County is also known as the Snack Food Capital of the World for the large number of manufacturers in the area that produce potato chips, pretzels and other snack foods.
At Martin’s Potato Chips in Thomasville (717) 792-3565, you’ll learn about the manufacturing process from start (the raw potatoes) to finish (packaging and shipping), and you’ll get to sample warm, kettle-cooked chips fresh from the conveyor belt. The company produces more than 1.5 million bags of chips monthly and is the chip of choice for Air Force One.
Three manufacturers of snack food are located in Hanover: Snyder’s of Hanover, (800) 233-7125; Utz Quality Foods, (800) 367-7629; and Revonah Pretzel, (717) 630-2883. Each has an educational factory tour and an outlet store where you can purchase all of your favorite snacks.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, visit the Wolfgang Candy Company in York, (800) 248-4273, named one of the “Top Five Tasty Tours in the Nation” by the Food Network. The tour starts at the visitor center and museum, where you can view vintage candy equipment and a video on the candy-making process, as well as the history of the family business, begun in 1921. Then you can head onto the production floor with your guide, to watch chocolates and other fine confectionaries being made.
No tours are given at the D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Company in York, (888) 480-1988, but it’s worth a visit to stock up on their animal crackers and other favorite cookies and crackers. Or include a stop at Bube’s Brewery in Mount Joy, (717) 653-2056, a 19th-century brewery complex that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tour the microbrewery and museum or dine in the underground catacombs.
On your itinerary, you might want to include two other snack food makers within easy driving distance of York County. The first, Herr Foods in Nottingham, (800) 637-6225, shares a video and tour of the decades-old company and its snacks.
At Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, (717) 534-4900, take the Great American Chocolate Tour ride, or become an “official” Hershey’s employee in a fun, interactive chocolate factory, one of many attractions found at the center and adjacent Hersheypark theme park.
Motorcycles and More
On a popular factory tour offered by the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. at its Buell factory in East Troy, WI, you can observe the step-by-step assembly of touring motorcycles. Call (262) 642-2020 for more information. You can even sit on one of the motorcycles to experience the thrill of “riding” a Harley. The Harley-Davidson Museum opened in July 2008 at 400 Canal St. in Milwaukee, WI 53201.
You won’t want to miss Family Heirloom Weavers in Red Lion, (717) 246-2431. This company has produced carpets for many restored historic homes, including those of several U.S. presidents, among them George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. On the company’s 40 looms, some dating back to 1890, period costumes, carpets and coverlets have been constructed for such movies as Gettysburg and Cold Mountain.
You can view skilled artisans cut glass at the Susquehanna Glass Co. in Columbia, (717) 684-2155. Observe metals being molded into beautiful dinnerware, cookware and gift items at Wilton Armetale in Mount Joy, (800) 553-2048. The Wilton Factory Store, adjacent to the manufacturing plant, is housed in a circa 1900 tobacco barn.
At George’s Woodcrafts in Marietta, (800) 799-1685, master craftsmen turn pieces of walnut, cherry and other woods into fine furniture. Visit George’s Museum, an eclectic collection of heirloom family furniture (each piece has a story), antique tractors, tools and more.
Bargain hunters will delight in the number of factory outlet stores, including the Pfaltzgraff Co. factory store, (800) 999-2811, a good place to find stoneware, glass, flatware and table accessories; and Pewtarex factory outlet store, (717) 854-6388, which has good deals on kitchenware and other products for the home. Both are located in York.
The UnCork York Wine Trail links 12 family-owned area wineries. Most offer both tours and tastings; some host harvest celebrations and special events throughout the year. Nissley Vineyard and Winery Estate in Bainbridge hosts “Music in the Vineyards” concerts every summer. Naylor Wine Cellars, the region’s oldest winery, provides a tour of its vineyard and winery.
During Tour de Tanks, an annual event held weekends in March, participating wineries invite visitors to preview the upcoming season’s wines before they are bottled. Your ticket enables you to attend tank and barrel tastings on all of the weekends and includes a 10 percent discount on wine purchased during the event. For more information, contact the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau at (888) 858-YORK.
Manufacturing – A Lasting Tradition in York
It’s no coincidence that York County has become the “Factory Tour Capital of the World.” Settled by hard-working German immigrants, it has a rich manufacturing heritage, going back more than 250 years. In fact, both the first iron steamboat and the first coal locomotive in the country were built here.
To understand how this county became such a magnet for manufacturers, visit the Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York. In addition to its exhibits relating to industry (including an impressive 1830s working gristmill), the museum, which is housed in an old industrial complex, has numerous displays relating to farming and transportation. It is one of the five York County Heritage Trust museums. Other historic sites to visit include Bonham House, the Historical Society Museum or the Fire Museum with its horse-drawn fire carriages, vintage fire trucks and uniforms, and other exhibits depicting more than two centuries of firefighting in York County. The Colonial Complex includes the Gates House (1751), Plough Tavern (1740), Bobb Log House (1830s) and the re-created Colonial Court House, where the Founding Fathers signed the Articles of Confederation, the country’s first constitution.
Maps for a self-guided walk of the York County murals are available at the York County Heritage Trust office, 250 E. Market St. Call (717) 848-1587 for more information. The colorful murals – 35 in total – tell the story of York County’s industry, agriculture and heritage.
For a behind-the-scenes look at additional manufacturers, schedule your visit to coincide with York County’s annual Made in America Tours. Call (888) 858-YORK for the current year’s schedule. You can visit more than 30 manufacturers. Whether your preference is for potato chips, fine glassware or motorcycles, factory tours offer a fun and informative glimpse into the manufacturing processes.
For More Information
York County Visitors Information Center
1425 Eden Road
York, PA 17402
Downtown York Visitors Information Center
149 W. Market St.
York, PA 17401
I-83 North Welcome Center
Interstate 83 Northbound
Shrewsbury, PA 17361
Hanover Visitors Information Center
Guthrie memorial Library
301 Carlisle St.
Hanover, PA 17331
1980 Turnpike Road
Elizabethtown, PA 17022
Hershey Conewago Campground
1590 Hershey Road
Elizabethtown, PA 17022
Indian Rock Campground
436 Indian Rock Dam Road
York, PA 17403
Otter Creek Campground
1101 Furnace Road
Airville, PA 17302