Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Off the Beaten Path – Wine in the Blue Ridge!!

Continuing on our trek back down to our home in East Tennessee, following our late summer/early fall 2011 road trip to upper New York State, Pennsylvania and Virginia…

I was wandering along some back roads and local byways near the Blue Ridge in Virginia, looking for old railroad depots and other sights when we noted a sign directing us to a local winery.  It was tempting…and we gave in to our impulses!

We ended up at the Blue Ridge Vineyard near Eagle Rock Virginia.  I must say, this place was up and down some back roads, in a location that can best be termed as almost remote…but beautiful.

The rustic barn, wine tasting room and patio at the winery is the home to local events and live music.  There is actually a concert series that stops here plus there is live music on Sundays during the summer and on in to October. 

The couple that owns the Blue Ridge Vineyards moved to the Blue Ridge from Texas in 1985.  They bought this 300 acre farm with 10 acres of vineyards…and sold the grapes to winemakers for 15 years.  At that point, they decided to start producing their own wine…
Barbara is the wine maker.  She has a PhD in molecular biology and microbiology.  Her husband Jim is the viticulturist.  He has a MS in Physics and he’s been both an air force and commercial pilot.

We were particularly pleased to note this sign at the vineyard.  It’s great to know that this property is protected in perpetuity from further development.  It’s a beautiful place…and we’re sure that some developer would turn the land into mini-estates or 'ranchettes' sooner or later. 

We’ve been big supporters of the Nature Conservancy…and conservation easements are one of that organization’s greatest tools.  Note: The Nature Conservancy operates like a business and they have helped to protected 17,000,000 acres in the USA and 117,000,000 acres world-wide.  For more on this organization and its accomplishments, just go to

It is very nice to know that this land is protected from future development… What a great place for a picnic, a wedding or other events!  The Blue Ridge Vineyard was one of Virginia’s first vineyards and its one of the three vineyards on the Botetourt County’s Wine Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The other two stops on the trail are the Virginia Mountain Vineyard and the Forecastle Vineyard and Winery. 

Wine tasting at the Blue Ridge Vineyards takes place inside a barn that looks like an antique store.  Barb and Jim have filled the room with collectables, many of which are from Texas.  Laurie especially liked the warm and cozy feeling that was provided by the presence of one of the two friendly dogs at the winery.

This is Jake… He has his own Blog Site!  It’s called Jake’s Journal – a Dog’s Blog… It’s about the Blue Ridge Vineyard and you can find it at  The fact that dogs are welcome guests at the winery is apparently a well known fact.  This vineyard is listed as a dog friendly place in this dog centric website:

These are the 4 bottles of wine that we purchased from the Blue Ridge Vineyards.  The Big Bear Red is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  The Solstice was their premier wine.  The wines from the Blue Ridge Vineyard have won a number of awards.  These are solid wines, competent if not the top of the line.  The price was right too.  For more on the wines from this vineyard, go to:

Blue Ridge Vineyards are located in the hills and mountains of the Blue Ridge at 1027 Shiloh Drive in (near) Eagle Rock Virginia.  The vineyard is open daily from 12 Noon until 5 PM from March through December.  Tastings are free… Phone: 540-798-7642.  As for the website for the Blue Ridge Vineyards…just ask Jake, after all, it’s his site!
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, February 27, 2012

2011 Road Trips – Railroad Depots Along the Way

Here is a bit of information about and related photos for 3 depots we ran across during our late sumer/early fall New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia road trip plus our trip to St. Louis in October...

This is the former Norfolk and Western Railroad Depot in the center of Boyce Virginia.  The first trains came to Boyce in 1881, with the Shenandoah Valley Railroad providing the service…and an earlier station was built.  In 1886, 3,235 passengers caught the train in Boyce and 3,035 arrived here on the train. 
Later in the 19th century, Norfolk &Western absorbed the Shenandoah Valley Railroad and in the early part of the 20th century, N&W decided that it needed to build a new wooden station.
The local community didn’t like the idea of a regular ‘wooden’ depot, so a fund drive was initiated in order to build a ‘classy’ structure.  Apparently, some of the landowners, fox hunters and ‘horse people’ in the surrounding area had a bit of spare change and the depot shown above was the result of their efforts.  This stone and stucco building was completed in 1913.  It had all of the amenities…fancy waiting rooms and bathrooms for both white and black customers. 

This is an early photo of the ‘new’ N&W Boyce depot with its enormous 400’ long covered passenger train shed.  This station was closed and passenger service ceased in 1953.  It was used as the town’s post office until the 1980’s.  Since then, it has found life as the home of a local charity, a restaurant, the local historical society and a woodworking shop. 

Currently the depot is owned by the Railway Mail Service Library…a major collection of materials related to postal en-route distribution history.  The collection contains information about the Railway Mail Service; Seapost; the Railway Post Office, and; the Highway Post Office.  Address: 117 East Main Street, Boyce Virginia.  Phone: 540-837-9090.  For more information, go to:  

This passenger depot is located in Eagle Rock Virginia.  The town sits at the spot on the map where the Richmond & Allegheny Railroad and the Craig Valley Line converged.  In the early days, the area prospered due to its production from a number of lime kilns.  It’s also the location of the uppermost lock on the James River and Kanawha Canal…a project endorsed and supported by George Washington. 

This station was built in the 20th century by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad…now CSX.  The unincorporated town of Eagle Rock has seen some bad times.  In 1917 and again in 1952, whole residential and business districts were wiped out by fire.  In the flood of 1985, virtually all of the businesses on Railroad Avenue except the bank were destroyed. 

This former depot in Waterloo Illinois turned out to be difficult to research and its still a bit of a mystery to me.  FYI, Camp Wartburg is a thrift shop operated by Lutheran Family Services. 

The questions I still have are:
#1 – Was this depot built and operated by the East St. Louis & Suburban Railroad?  It went out of business in the 1930’s, but it did serve Waterloo.
#2 – Was this depot built and operated by the East St. Louis, Columbia and Waterloo Railroad? (14 trains per day!) It too was an interurban railway that shut down in the 1930’s.
#3 – Or, was this depot built by the Mobile & Ohio Railroad…later, the Gulf, Mobile & Northern?  That main line railroad operated trains from Mobile and New Orleans up through eastern Illinois, into St. Louis and then on up to Chicago.

Actually, I would prefer to think that the Waterloo station was served by the Gulf, Mobile & Northern’s “Rebel” Streamliner shown above. (Pictured at Murphysboro Illinois) The other railroads mentioned were basically interurban lines and while they are a bit more mysterious…lost in time, they probably wouldn’t have invested the money needed to build a nice solid brick station like the one in Waterloo.

Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lunch in the Northern Blue Ridge Mountains

Now we were heading south, in the general direction of our home in East Tennessee.  We were winding down our road trip up to upper New York State, the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania…moving along back roads and secondary highways in southern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia…

Well, it was past time for lunch…and we got lucky.  Look what we found…a real diner…a bit modified but still a real diner!

This is Mike Travis’ Mountain Shadows Diner.  Although a roof has been added and there is a brick extension in the back, I learned that this is a rare Master Built Diner, c. 1950.  Mike Travis has owned it since 1987.

That’s Mike near the cash register… The interior has truly a classic diner look to it.  We felt good just sitting there and looking around!  For more quality photos of the interior of this diner, just click on the following website:

We weren’t able to pick up a menu…but the good news is that the Mountain Shadows Diner serves breakfast all day long!  Since breakfast is just about our favorite food, we had no trouble ordering…

Laurie went with her standard breakfast entrĂ©e…eggs over easy, bacon, fried potatoes and toast.  She would have preferred that her potatoes were a little more browned but all in all, it was a good breakfast!

I think that my potatoes were a little more browned… I decided that I’d forego my normal breakfast sausage…and I went with the corned beef hash.  It was done just right!  Notice the wheat bread…it was our attempt to eat healthy…

Mountain Shadows Diner is open from 7 am until 8 pm, 7 days a week.  Wednesday night is Karaoke Night and there are Friday night specials every week.  This past week it ranged from Salmon Cakes with 2 sides at $6.10 to BBQ Country Style Pork Ribs with 2 sides for $11.99.
The Diner had the right look…comfortable and old style, service was decent and friendly…except Mike seemed kind of grumpy about something…and the place was clean.  Mike Travis’ Mountain Shadows Diner is located at 14954 Buchanan Trail in Blue Ridge Summit Pennsylvania.  Phone: 717-794-2705.  For some reason, Mike doesn’t have a website set up for his diner but he is on Facebook at
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Railroad Depots – Pennsylvania & Maryland

At this point in our late summer/early fall 2011 road trip; it was time to head south from Lancaster County Pennsylvania into Maryland and Virginia, finally beginning the last couple of days before getting back home to East Tennessee…

But what the heck!  Never pass up a railroad depot or two along the way…

This very attractive railroad passenger depot is in downtown Lititz Pennsylvania.  Laurie took these photos the evening prior to our departure from Lancaster county.  However, this Victorian Gothic depot is just a replica of the original that had been built back in 1884.  It serves as the visitor’s Welcome Center for Lititz…

Despite the fact that it’s a copy, it is nevertheless a handsome building.  The first depot in Lititz was dedicated on the day after Christmas in 1863.  The ‘new’ 1884 depot was built on land leased by the Lititz Moravian Congregation to the Reading & Columbia Railroad for 999 years.  Both depots survived until they were demolished, following the demise of passenger service to the town.

The Reading & Columbia Railroad Company had only 39.8 miles of track.  Despite its short length, the railroad had a tremendous impact on the community for many years.  In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, 6 passenger trains stopped here each day.  By 1899, local street cars or trolleys were also operating and stopping at the depot. 

In late 1952, passenger service to Lititz ceased and the 999 year lease was terminated.  Interestingly enough, the last passenger train to come through the town carried Presidential candidate Adlai E. Stevenson.  That was on 10/28/52.

This lonely looking passenger depot is in Smithsburg Maryland.  No one seems to know when it was built, but it wasn’t on the town map in 1875 and it was on the town map in 1916.  The first train that came though Smithsburg was in 1872 and the last train came through in 1957.

The railroad brought prosperity to the area.  Farmers now had a way to ship their Mountain Peaches and Smithsburg Pride Apples to market in a timely fashion. 
Smithsburg was founded in 1806.  One interesting sidenote about the town involved General George A. Custer.  On 7/5/1863, Custer celebrated his promotion to General with the town’s residents as well as his troops.  Tables were set up on the main street and they were laden with hams, cold pitchers of milk, cakes and pies.  That evening, he accepted an invitation to dinner from a local family…

This is the Western Maryland Railway’s Smithsburg passenger depot as it originally appeared… There have been quite a few changes!  At various times, the building has served as a beauty salon and a bank.  In the late 1990’s, the mayor tried to have it converted into the town’s police station.  In March of 2001, the building and property changed hands once again in a foreclosure auction that took place on the courthouse steps.  It was sold for $89,700.  The building is listed in the Maryland Historical Trust’s Inventory of Historic Properties.

Just click on any photo to enlarge it...

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Isaac’s – A Family Friendly Place

Continuing with another meal from our late summer/early fall 2011 road trip to upper New York State, Pennsylvania and Virginia…

We’d finished visiting another attraction, the National Toy Train Museum, and then it was time for another ‘fuel stop’ so we could keep going…

We saw this sign, Isaac’s – Famous Grilled Sandwiches, and we decided to give it a try.  What we didn’t know was that Isaac’s is a local chain of casual restaurants with 19 locations in central Pennsylvania…including 8 restaurants in Lancaster County.

Isaac’s has a definite family friendly ambience… There were lots of very well mannered kids to be seen and the minimalist decorative motif was railroad related.  (Given the fact that the Strasburg Railroad, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the National Toy Train Museum and the Choo Choo Barn were all within 2 or 3 miles, the motif was no surprise)  

At Isaac’s you order at the counter, pay up and then a server brings you your food.  Isaac’s is all about soups, salads and a wide variety of sandwiches.  Each sandwich is made to order and they’re happy to modify any sandwich from the menu to fit the customer’s taste.  Alternatively, you can build your own sandwich from scratch, choosing from 12 different breads; 15 basic ingredients such as turkey, roast beef, veggies, or grilled portabella mushrooms; 23 extras such as cheese, artichoke hearts, bacon, dried cranberries, etc., and; a choice of dressings such as Ikey’s mild horseradish sauce, mustard, ancho chili ranch, mayo, honey-Dijon, etc.

This little dish of pickled goodness is brought to your table as a little ‘appetizer’ just to get you started…

Laurie had a cup of the Pepper jack Tomato Soup and half a sandwich. ($7.29) She enjoyed the soup…it was creamy and the flavors just popped. 

In addition to the Pepper jack Tomato, there is always at least one daily special soup.  Beyond the soup, there are 6 dinner salads…all of which can be topped with extra goodies…such as tuna salad, cranberry almond chicken salad, mini crab cakes, a grilled black bean burger, etc.

My soup was a daily special…and I got a big bowl of it.  I don’t recall exactly what it was called but it was like a hot turkey sandwich with lots of turkey, pieces of potato and croutons in a nice thick broth.  I added Tabasco and this was about as satisfying as any bowl of soup I’ve ever had!

Sandwiches…let me count the possibilities… There are 7 pretzel sandwiches, 3 twisted sliders, 5 French bread sandwiches, 11 classics, 4 reubens or clubs and 7 flatbread or wraps.  As previously mentioned, you can also build your own sandwich.  Typically, prices per sandwich range between $7.00 and $8.50 with the most expensive sandwich on the menu, the large “Black Heron” coming in at $10.99.

This is Isaac’s ‘Finch’ sandwich, sliced turkey breast, crispy bacon and Muenster cheese with mayo, grilled on pumpernickel.  We split it between us… It was an excellent sandwich!  All sandwiches are served with Utz Natural Gourmet Medley potato crisps…but substitutions for these crisps include a small side of mixed greens, apple sauce, baby carrots, baked potato chips or Utz regular chips.  We liked these crisps just fine…

We washed our lunch down with some great pink lemonade.  Our only complaint was that somehow our order was misplaced or skipped over and it took a bit too long to get our food.  Customers who came in later got their orders first…  Still, all in all, we liked this chain and we wish that we had an Isaac’s in our neck of the woods!
For more information about Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches outlets, just go to
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Museum for Small Trains + A Motel!

After a one blog respite, we’re back to our late summer/early fall 2011 road trip to upper New York state, Pennsylvania and Virginia…finally heading south towards our home in East Tennessee…

Lancaster County Pennsylvania is not only home to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and the Strasburg Railroad, but it’s also home to yet another railroad attraction…or two!

Yes, this is the National Toy Train Museum near Strasburg in Lancaster County.  Founded in 1954 in an old stone barn in Yardley Pennsylvania, the Train Collectors Association has become the major collecting organization for toy trains in the USA.  This museum opened in April of 1977 with the goal of educating visitors and inspiring others about the hobby of toy trains.

There is a plethora of static toy train displays in showcases and on shelves along the walls and halls of this 6,000 square foot collection.  But, it’s the live action dioramas that really catch the eye of both the children visiting this facility as well as those of us who just come here to imagine and reminisce.

Harry’s Hardware Store is one of the museum’s displays that peaks my memories.  It thankfully predates even my era, as the ‘store’ is set up to replicate a 1920’s hardware store with a replica 1923 Lionel factory built dealer display.  Even into the late 40’s and early 50’s you could find model trains on display and for sale in some independent hardware stores.  

The largest ‘live’ display is the Operating ‘O’ Gauge layout.  It has 3 sections, each modeled in different styles.  When we were there, at least 4 trains were running in this display at any given time.

Earlier, while we were visiting the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, I’d mentioned to a Canadian couple that we were going to the National Toy Train Museum.   They told us of yet another toy train display just a short distance down the road.  The Choo Choo Barn – Traintown USA, is located at 226 Gap Road/PA Rte. 741 East in Strasburg Pennsylvania.  The Choo Choo Barn has a 1,700 square foot train layout featuring over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles plus 22 operating trains!  Maybe next time… Phone: 800-450-2920.  Website:

The detail shown in these dioramas is amazing and a bit mind boggling!  I would never have the patience to put anything like this together…but I sure can appreciate the results!

There are various displays throughout the National Toy Train Museum which catch both the collector’s eye and the ‘kid’ in all of us.  These include: a Fort Knox Car; a 1928 Lionel Dealer Display…complete with the pricing; a Streamliner Display; the Postwar Display; Toy Trains from Around the World; European Trains; Trolleys; Marx Trains; 5 other gauges, and; an Early 1900’s Circus Wagon. 

One nice fun feature throughout the National Toy Train Museum is that there are lots of buttons that visitors can push to activate animated trucks, autos, planes, people, machinery and even trains in the dioramas.

The National Toy Museum is located at 300 Paradise Lane in Strasburg Pennsylvania.  Phone: 717-687-8623.  Website:
As an additional point of reference, the National Toy Museum is located right next door to the Red Caboose Motel…

Yes boys and girls, the Red Caboose Motel is actually a motel and restaurant that’s comprised of 38 retired cabooses, 2 baggage cars and 2 dining cars… It all started back in 1969 when the original owner bought 19 old Pennsylvania Railroad cabooses for the grand sum of $100.00!

There are now 48 sleeping cars, each equipped with private baths and air conditioning.  There are family cabooses, small family cabooses, a family caboose for 5, a couples room, a 2 doubles caboose and suites…including a honeymoon suite!  The cabooses have been painted in a variety of schemes, reflecting many railroads around the country. 

For those of you who might not be aware, cabooses used to be required on all freight trains.  However, in the 1980’s, modern technology and electronics had advanced to the point that the Federal government permitted railroads to discontinue the use of cabooses.
The Red Caboose Motel is located at 312 Paradise Lane in Paradise Pennsylvania.  Phone: 888-687-5005.  Website:
Just click on any photo shown above to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, February 17, 2012

Captain Ernie’s Fish House Restaurant – East Tennessee

Time to take a break from the summer/fall 2011 road trip blogs…even though I have a few more to publish!

Back to our home turf…East Tennessee!

This is Capt. Ernie’s Fish House Restaurant in North Knoxville Tennessee.  Capt. Ernie was a commercial fisherman in the Florida Keys.  He and his wife Lyana had 4 boys and Lyana was working as well.  To be more supportive of his wife and family, Capt. Ernie decided to give up the fishing and open a restaurant.  He and another friend decided that rather than trying to start up a restaurant in the Florida Keys where competition is rampant, they’d open a seafood restaurant in Knoxville, an area where seafood restaurants are few and far between.

It’s apparently worked out rather well.  So far, this family venture is doing OK.  Capt. Ernie’s has been in operation for over 2 years now and business has reportedly been good.   You can’t judge the customer volume by this interior photo.  It was mid-afternoon on a weekday when we stopped in for a bite to eat…

The interior of the restaurant was simply decorated in a Florida seafood motif with lots of fishing photos and art on the walls.  The premises were clean and orderly.  Needless to say, we couldn’t really evaluate the service…there was no pressure on the waitress or the kitchen during our visit.

A new item on the menu was the conch fritters.  I like conch but I hesitated to order the fritters because I’m not a fan of bell peppers…a usual ingredient.  Capt. Ernie brought us one to try.  It wasn’t my favorite for the reasons mentioned…but Laurie thought it was very good.

One of Laurie’s favorite soups is Lobster Bisque and it was on Capt. Ernie’s menu. ($5.95) She ordered a bowl and although it was a lot different than some of the others she’s had over the last couple of years, she liked this version quite a bit.  I tasted it and agreed with her.  As you can see, it was laced with bits of lobster.

Laurie ordered the Fiesta Key Fish Sandwich with the blackened Mahi, fries and cole slaw. ($10.95) The sandwich was topped with cilantro lime aioli sauce…very flavorful.  The French fries were OK and the slaw was very good!

There are quite a few other sandwich options to choose from… First of all, there is the basic Fish Sandwich with Mahi, Grouper, Hogfish or Yellowtail Snapper grilled, blackened or jerked. ($9.95) Then there are the Super Grouper ($10.95) and the Cuban Shrimp Sandwich ($9.95).  For landlubbers, there is a Cuban Chicken Sandwich ($8.95) and a Burger ($7.95). 

I decided to go with the Fried Fish Basket and I chose Grouper for my fish. ($11.95) It doesn’t look great as it’s served…almost looks like fish ‘nuggets’.  However, the fish was fresh, it was hand breaded and it was very enjoyable. 

Other choices for the fried fish basket included Mahi, Hog Fish and Yellowtail Snapper.  Additional fried seafood options included Shrimp ($10.95), Scallops ($9.95) and Catfish ($8.95)

Well, as long as we were at it, we decided to spilt a slice of Key Lime Pie. ($5.90) It was a nice and refreshing way to end the meal.  The pie was tart, yet sweet, with a nice crust.

All in all, Capt. Ernie’s Fish House Restaurant was a positive experience.  Like most seafood restaurants, the food is a little pricy vs. the average non-seafood establishment.  But Capt. Ernie’s fish was fresh, the ambience was Florida Keys casual and both Capt. Ernie and our waitress were very helpful.  We will be back one day around dinnertime so we can try a couple of the Appetizers and House Seafood Specialties!
Capt. Ernie’s Fish House Restaurant is located at 747 North Campbell Station Road in North Knoxville Tennessee. (It’s in the first little strip shopping center on the right side of the road immediately after exiting I-40/75 at North Campbell Station Road) The restaurant is open 7 days a week from 11 AM until 9 PM.  Phone: 865-671-0026.  Website:
Just click on any of the photos I’ve posted to enlarge them…
Many thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Living History Museum – Landis Valley Pennsylvania

Still moving along on our late summer/early fall 2011 road trip up through New York State, Pennsylvania and Virginia…

We spent a couple of days in Lancaster County Virginia and we covered a lot of ground…visiting several attractions and just cruising through the countryside.  One of the key attractions in the area is the Landis Valley Museum.  The museum is a living history village of Pennsylvania Dutch life containing roughly 100,000 items depicting rural America.

In the 1920’s George and Henry Landis started a small museum on the grounds of their Landis Valley homestead.  Their German ancestors had settled in Lancaster County during the early 1700’s.  Recognizing the importance of their culture and wanting to preserve their traditions, they pulled together a collection of 75,000 objects including decorative arts, pottery, day to day utensils, tools, furniture and farm equipment.

Pennsylvania acquired the Landis Brother’s museum in 1953.  Since then, the museum has grown from a handful of buildings to a ‘gathering’ of many structures, some original to the valley, some ‘new’ or ‘recreated’ as well as others that have been relocated to the site.  In effect, the museum has been transformed into a crossroads village with adjoining farmsteads with historical breeds of animals and heirloom plants.

This is a view inside the Tavern.  This building is a ‘recreated’ or new structure that was built back in 1941.  It’s been equipped as a tavern might have been back in the early 1800’s.  On most days, a demonstration of hearth cooking is offered. 

The Landis Valley Museum collects, conserves, exhibits and interprets Pennsylvania German material culture and heritage between 1750 and 1940.  The museum promotes education, research, programs and events for the benefit and enjoyment of its visitors and the surrounding community. 

This is another view in the Tavern…this time of the hearth area with some produce and a bit of cooking underway. 

To the visitor, this seems to be a simpler, gentler way of life.  Farmers plowed, planted and harvested, shoemakers made shoes, tinsmiths made household products, weavers wove cloth, etc.  Life certainly wasn’t easier but each person’s work role may have been clearer and easier to comprehend.  Close knit families and communities became interdependent.  Gender usually determined the assigned tasks.  Men tended the fields and animals, mended fences, cleaned stables, cared for the orchard, repaired farm equipment, etc.  Women raised the children, prepared food, made and washed clothing, made soap, made butter, took care of the poultry, etc.  Even young children were expected to help…everyone had a job to do…

This is one of the interpreters working in the village…in this case, in the tavern.  He was quite knowledgeable, friendly and very helpful.  He’d been in the job for more than 10 years. 

Costumed guides or interpreters were posted in several buildings throughout the museum.  Even though it was September when we visited, we encountered several of them…all very helpful, some skilled at a particular craft…as we wandered through the ‘settlement’. 

In addition to the various buildings, the museum grounds include a number of ‘kitchen gardens’ for growing herbs, vegetables, flowers and fruits.  Many plants were also being cultivated for ‘medicinal’ purposes.  Some of the vegetables grown here include Lazy Wife beans, Deacon Dan beets and Deertongue lettuce. 

Seeds of antique plants are available through the museum’s Heirloom Seed Project, created to preserve these rare varieties.  For more on these heirloom seeds and/or to place an order, go to

One exhibit building focused on textiles, especially wool along with its preparation and of course, various manual looms for weaving.  An interpreter walked us through the process.  This large new building, the craft barn, is also one of the buildings used for special programs and demonstrations.  

There were a few sheep in a nearby field as well as a scattering of other livestock around the settlement, this was despite the fact that it was past the end of the summer tourist season.  

This old blacksmith shop was relocated to the museum property.  It reflects the blacksmithing trade back in the late 1800’s.  Unfortunately, the blacksmith had the day off…

Some of the other buildings on premises include the late 1800’s Maple Grove School; a pottery shop, a large 1930’s chicken coop; a German ‘Bank type’ barn for the horses, a steam engine building, and; a firehouse.

This is an old Conestoga Wagon that was exhibited in the Farm Machinery and Tool Barn.  This building was full of large and small equipment and tools from the 1700’s through the early part of the 20th century.  One could spend a good 45 – 60 minutes in this exhibit if they looked at everything.

This was one of the happiest sights we saw on our foot tour of the Landis Valley Museum.  This young lade stopped and picked us up, giving us a ride throughout the ‘settlement’, telling us about her great job here…and just giving our feet a break!  The horses are beautiful too…

This is the Landis Brothers House and Stable.  It is the original Victorian homestead of the museum’s founders.  It was built in the 1870’s and it was furnished to reflect c.1900 when the brothers began their most active period of collecting.

There was also a Gun Shop that included a display of Pennsylvania rifles, handguns and gunsmithing tools.  The hand cranked equipment shown above was used to provide rifling grooves in the barrels of the long rifles. 

The Tin Shop is actually a reconstruction of a tollhouse.  There were quite a few antique tin products on display around the walls of the shop…but in this instance only, the interpreter was friendly enough but less than well informed than the others we encountered...he didn’t know what some of the items were for…

This is the handsome Landis Valley House Hotel.  It was built c.1856 at the crossroads of the Landis Valley and is furnished to represent the late 1800’s.  There are more than 2 dozen buildings contained in the museum or village… 

The Jacob Landis Farmhouse is the original brick farmhouse for the property.  It is set up to portray the home life of a Mennonite farming blacksmith family in the first half of the 1800’s. 

In addition to this home, there is a log farm; the mid-1800’s Grossmutter House, and; the Erisman House, a 1700’s log house that was relocated to the site from downtown Lancaster.
All in all, this was a nice easygoing walk through the past.  There were no crowds with just a few other visitors while we were at the museum.  The staff was friendly and for the most part, very informative.  It was a great way to spend the morning!
The Landis Valley Museum is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.  The museum is open year around…but there is a lot more going on in the summer time…more crowds too.  It is located at 2451 Kissel Hill Road in Lancaster.  Phone: 717-569-0401.  Website:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave