We had decided to take a drive in this great weather to Gettysburg, PA and show Hanne the battlefield and sights in the town. However, before we went there I took a detour to Biglerville, PA which is a few mile from us. They have an old ( 102 yr old ) General store there that is full of fun and interesting "stuff". The store has a rich history and there have been two generations running the store these past 102 years. Wow!
Below is an article printed a couple years ago on the 100th anniversary celebration of the store.
|Originally Published: 11/19/2009|
100-year-old general store put the 'big' in Biglerville
Biglerville, PA -
When it was built 100 years ago, Thomas Bros. Country Store was considered a skyscraper at all of three stories high, and was well ahead of its time for Biglerville with indoor plumbing, central heating and electricity.
1909: The first race was run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Wright Brothers sold their first plane to the U.S. Army Signal Corps. William Howard Taft succeeded Theodore Roosevelt as president. The NAACP was founded on the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.
And, in Biglerville, York County, Ner and Nettie Thomas left their teaching positions and opened a general store on Main Street in Biglerville, Adams County.
Life in America was different then. The ambitious couple built what amounted to a skyscraper - all three floors of it - in the center of the tiny town about seven miles north of Gettysburg. They dared to incorporate what was then a state-of-the-art infrastructure that dazzled the citizenry.
Folks flocked to see the construction of the big building that had indoor plumbing, central heating and electricity - all "newfangled" utilities in that part of the county.
It was, first and foremost, the Thomas Bros. Country Store. But, it was so large - again by Biglerville standards - that it eventually served many functions including but not limited to: an insurance office, dentist's office, library, Knights of the Golden Eagle lodge hall, polling place, restaurant, saddle and harness shop and headquarters of the town band.
As Biglerville is in the heart of Adams County's "Apple Country," the building also housed the U.S. Fruit Inspection Service. And, oh yes, it also hosted Vaudeville acts, school graduations, shows and even donkey basketball games in its third floor auditorium. It is said the donkeys were walked up the fire escape to the auditorium.
Of course, its primary function was as a general store. And, quite a store it was - and still is.
In October 2009, the Thomas Bros. Country Store observed its centennial, and in a big way. State and federal officials gathered at its front door to affix a plaque designating the store as a National Historic Place, as confirmed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Proprietor Marion Thomas Harbaugh, daughter of the founders, proudly accepted the honor.
The store is now both a mercantile and a museum.
Marion, a vibrant 85, can usually be found there and proudly spins yarns of the store's long history to anyone who drops by.
She'll explain how the store's inventory once included everything anyone in the area could possibly need. If it wasn't in stock, it would be ordered. Medicines, carpeting, custom-made clothing and linens, a large hardware section and even a "citified" millinery department were packed within its walls.
Groceries were shipped in by rail and sold fresh to a steady stream of customers who often lingered to gossip and play checkers atop an old cracker barrel.
It was the "big box" store of its day, and it was very much a center of community activity and pride - in 1909, and still in 2009. Much has changed there, but much remains quite the same.
Except, of course, no donkey has been led up the fire escape in a long, long time.
After the visit to the store we plugged into the GPS our next stop on the journey, Gettysburg. The Tom Tom directed us down two alleys and back onto Rt 34 for the short ride to Gettysburg, We did a short tour of the battlefield and showed Hanne the highlights. Since she is from Denmark, the tour didn't have the same meaning for her as it did us but she was a great listener. We stopped for a late lunch at a Pub on the Town Square of Gettysburg and watched the constant stream of traffic thru the town. Later we went to a well known and old covered bridge on the outskirts of Gettysburg.
Sachs Covered Bridge
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
During the American Civil War, both the Union and Confederate Armies used the bridge in the Battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath.
HistoryThe Sachs Covered Bridge was built around 1854 at a cost of $1,544. On July 1, 1863, the bridge was crossed by the two brigades of the I Corps of the Union Army heading towards Gettysburg. The III Corps also crossed the bridge heading to the Black Horse Tavern. Four days later, the majority of General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia retreated over the bridge after the Union victory in the Battle of Gettysburg.
The bridge was designated Pennsylvania's "most historic bridge" in 1938 by the predecessor of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Department of Highways. After a plan in 1960 to replace the bridge , the Cumberland Township officials voted to close the bridge to vehicular traffic, while leaving it open to pedestrians, on May 9, 1968. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 25, 1980.
On June 19, 1996, a flash flood knocked the bridge from one of its abutments and it incurred substantial damage; an iron bridge on the Marsh Creek was also heavily damaged and another destroyed. A $500,000 restoration on the bridge was already in progress before the flood; an additional $100,000 was raised to repair the damage incurred. The bridge was rededicated on July 21, 1997.
WaterworksThe Gettysburg Waterworks is the Marsh Creek site of freshwater for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Originally constructed in 1894, the works were rebuilt by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for the 1913 Gettysburg reunion, when the site had a pumping station, a filter plant, and 4 drilled wells (1 nearly dry). The reservoir is supplied by a 57.5 sq mi (149 km2) drainage area that is upstream of the Sachs Covered Bridge.
DesignThe Sachs Covered Bridge is a Town truss covered bridge. The truss design was developed by Ithiel Town of Connecticut and consists of wooden beams "cris-crossed" to form a lattice. The bridge was one of few remaining Town truss bridges in Pennsylvania. The bridge is 100 feet (30 m) long and 15 feet 4 inches (4.67 m) wide.
After the bridge viewing we drove over to Emmitsburg, MD for our 2nd meal in three hours. We stopped at the famous Ott House Bar & Restaurant for dinner. Cassie, Jack and Lexa joined us there so they could visit with Hanne a little while she is in the area. We all left there stuffed with food and bulging at the seams.