strasburg railroad in the pennsylvania dutch country

Day 47 – Pennsylvania Dutch Country Part 2

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Day 47 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

The Walmart parking lot was perfect last night.  I replenished my snack supplies, bought some groceries in anticipation of cooking dinner at a house tonight, enjoyed the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday for dinner, and grabbed coffee and a bagel from Panera this morning. One stop shopping, eating and sleeping at its finest in the Pennsylvania Dutch country!

This morning I took a driving tour of Lancaster, one of the largest inland cities in the 13 colonies during the American Revolution.  I actually wanted to find the Central Market, where many local specialties from the Dutch farmland can be found. Unfortunately I could not find the market which dates back to the 1700s.  I did, however, find Wheatland, former home of James Buchanan who was the 15th President of the United States. The dogs and I took a walk around the lovely grounds and through the Louise Arnold Tanger Arboretum.

Wheatland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Ephrata Cloister

After our morning walk, we ventured north through the Pennsylvania Dutch country to the Ephrata Cloister. The Cloister was established by Conrad Beissel in 1732. Beissel, born in Germany in 1691, fled to Pennsylvania to avoid religious persecution in 1720.  After spending 12 years in Pennsylvania, while being a leader of a local congregation, he moved to the forest seeking solitude. 

Others followed, and by 1750 Ephrata was home to 80 celibate Brothers and Sisters called the Solitary. Additionally, 200 Householders chose Beissel as their leader, but did not make the other sacrifices of the Solitary.  In order to be closer to God, the Solitary ate only one meal a day, worked long hours, slept little, and meditated often.  Only a few of the buildings in the cloister remain including Beissel’s house, the Sisters’ House, a barn, a bakery, the carpenter’s house, and a couple others.

Ephrata Cloister in the Pennsylvania Dutch country
Sisters’ House

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

From Ephrata I turned back south through the Pennsylvania Dutch country to Intercourse. The city is clearly home to the Amish, as evidenced by countless horse and buggies, quilt shops, hitching posts, and farmland.  I stopped at King’s Homestead, an Amish home decor store, and bought some homemade preserves.  I finally got a few good pictures of horses and buggies which alluded me in the Ohio Dutch country.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

After my visit to Intercourse, I followed some back roads a few miles to Strasburg in order to ride the train!  Strasburg could be named the railroad capital of the world.  Located on the south side of the highway, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania houses over 50 railroad cars. In addition to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the National Toy Train Museum and the station house to the Strasburg Railroad stand across the way.

The Strasburg railroad offers a 45 minute ride past the Amish farmlands, the Amazing Maize Maze, and the Red Caboose Motel which features lodging in train cars. Visitors may choose from different class tickets including premium, open air, dining, and coach.  Strasburg would be a fantastic weekend getaway for families with train loving children.  Personally, I enjoyed seeing the Amish farmers use horses to farm their land as opposed to tractors. That is what I was expecting to see in the Ohio Dutch country.

After the train ride, Scout, Petey, and I continued on 30, once a wagon trail between forts. Inns and taverns stood every 4 miles (the distance a wagon could travel in a day during the 1700s). From 30 we connected to the Interstate and headed East toward Villanova. Our wonderful family friends, Fluff and Charlie, own a home there. They have graciously let me use the house while they are out of town.  A hot shower, a laundry room, a home cooked meal, and a Texas Ranger’s win – what more could I ask for?

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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