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Lovely Landis in Lancaster

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May 8th, 2011, 07:38 PM
  #1
Amy
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Lovely Landis in Lancaster

Alliterative, no?

I went with a group of 150 (students, teachers, some parents and others) to Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, on Friday, April 29th. The museum is an open-air village, with wagon rides, workshops, and re-enactors of Pennsylvania German life from about 1750 to 1900.

It's a beautiful location, with the buildings and heritage seed gardens creating a village, and the Landis Brothers' collection of artifacts bringing the past to life. The most "famous" of the Pennsylvania Germans (or Dutch, from Duetsch, the language, not the Netherlands) are probably the Amish and Mennonites, but there were numerous Germanic groups who came to settle in this, the most highly productive non-irrigated agricultural area in what is now the United States. Their tools, crafts, and aesthetics are brought to life in a number of buildings, and the guides and re-enactors are filled to the brim with knowledge to share.

Our students (high-school age) first had a workshop; the one that I attended showed the natural dyes process, and I was very pleased with the natural but thorough way that the various chemistry-related topics were woven through. The kids got a chance to dye squares of cloth in the bubbling pots of dye, choosing between madder root and cochineal. (You know: ewww, bugs!) The other workshops were reported to be quite good, too; the 7th and 8th grades got a taste of school in 1890, for example.

Wagon rides in the big farm wagons and guided tours of the various buildings took the rest of our time there--except, of course, for our time spent eating lunch at the picnic grove and shopping in the gift store! There's quite a wide variety of local goods available there.

I definitely recommend Landis Valley for school groups--they were very easy to work with and certainly educated and entertained--as well as anyone with an interest in the workings of an agricultural community of the 17th and 18th centuries. I've got pictures here: http://travel.webshots.com/album/580166806blzRVb

On the way home we went to the Sun and Earth environmentally friendly cleaning products factory in King of Prussia; they're so friendly and welcoming, and we had a tour of the facilities, watching the fairly low-tech process and hearing all about their innovative plans, including refill stations at the supermarkets! We got to send a bottle through the line and get the product at the end--in our case, a spray bottle of their very effective orange oil cleaner. (Prudently, the kids didn't get their spray bottles until they got home. )

Good times!
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May 13th, 2011, 03:24 PM
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I visited Lancaster in 2009 but did not know of the Landis Valley Museum. Is it new?
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May 13th, 2011, 05:05 PM
  #3
Amy
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It was started in the 1920's by the two Landis brothers, who were devoted to preserving the history of all of the Pennsylvania Germans (not just the best-known Amish and Mennonite groups.) It doesn't seem to be too heavily advertised, but it's a really nice site and a great learning experience. Here's the website: www.landisvalleymuseum.org

Actually, I hadn't been there before last summer, and I'm less than two hours away. I've been to similar sites in Switzerland and Canada, but it took me this long to get to the one in my own backyard...
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May 14th, 2011, 06:34 PM
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Like azzure, been to Lancaster but missed that museum. Glad to know about what you did. You did have quite a large group but assume all was organized. How were the crowds?

Bill in Boston
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May 15th, 2011, 01:49 AM
  #5
Amy
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There were about 300 or so other people there that day, but, with 100 acres and some really organized guiding, it didn't seem at all crowded. (We were a little worried about that, to be honest.) We really wouldn't have known that there were that many others. In fact, some of the students mentioned how "relaxing" the trip was--and this was with a workshop, guided tour, and other activities. Compared to, say, a Smithsonian museum during field trip prime time, it was!

They have some special activity days, including a Civil War reenactment, that I'd suggest looking into if you're not going in a group. For groups, there are a lot of options; the workshops are really good.
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