Civil War items in Hershey
Today one of my sons and I toured the Hershey Museum for the first time (before our twentieth trip through the Disney-like “factory tour”). From a history perspective, the museum contained a few Civil War items from Milton S. Hershey’s private collection, including a Confederate tin canteen from Gettysburg with a bullet hole through it on both sides. Also, Hershey had a hand-carved wooden cane with a bullet from Devil’s Den imbedded in the wood.
The museum contains a lot of Civil War-period Pennsylvania German furniture, dishes, musical instruments, clocks, household goods, and other things that would have been very familiar to the Trostles, Weikerts, Codoris, Spanglers, and other Gettysburg residents during the war years.
The museum also has a well-rounded collection of American Indian items (Eastern Woodlands, Plains, Southwest desert, and Northwest artifacts such as Sioux warbonnets and weapons, Navajo silver, totem poles, and many other items Hershey bought. The rest of the museum includes displays on Hershey’s life, the development of Hershey Park and the chocolate company, and a Hollywood Walk of Fame type display of celebrity handprints in cement.
Also of particular interest was a display of a half dozen or so vintage Pennsylvania long-rifles, the kind made famous in the American Revolution and afterward for accuracy and light weight. Pioneers such as Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett made the Pennsylvania long-rifles legendary, and the museum has a nice assortment of hand-made examples.
I have always been fascinated by the sinking of Titanic in April 1912. I was surprised the museum had a large display wall devoted to coverage of the disaster. Milton Hershey had vacationed in Europe and Egypt, and had paid $300 as a 10% down payment on a first-class stateroom on Titanic. Hershey had to return early and instead booked passage to New York City on the German luxury liner Amerika. He missed probable death by a couple of days, as few men in first class survived.
$7.00 adult regular admission – pretty good deal for such a diverse museum. It is located in the old skating rink / convention center. See it before it closes in September of this year! In December, parts of the collection will move to a new building right on Chocolate Avenue.