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Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania: The Birthplace of Commercial Ice Cream Production

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Have you ever heard of the town of Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania?  You have never heard of the town of Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania?  Unless you live in York County in South Central Pennsylvania, you more likely never heard of this place.  Pennsylvania Route 616 is the only main route to pass through this town as it is far from any major route.  It is not a touristy town.  It does have one claim.  What is that claim?  It was in this town where ice cream was first produced for commercial production.

South Central Pennsylvania is known for its dairy farms, and York County still has many farms in operation today.  A man by the name of C. Jacob Fussel took advantage of these farms and built and ice cream factory in the town.  Being an out-of-the-way town, you must wonder how the rest of the world was able to get his ice cream.  It is a town that is not on a major highway, but it was a stop on the Northern Central Railroad.  The ice cream was shipped to markets in Baltimore.  Sadly, for the town, the operations were later moved to Baltimore where it continued into the 1940’s.

So, as you can see, the railroad was a major contributor to commercial ice cream.  Although the section of the Northern Central Railroad in the state of Maryland was destroy by a hurricane in 1972, a single track in the Pennsylvania section remains.  Do trains run on this track?  They do.  ‘Steam Into History’ runs occasional excursions to Seven Valleys.  Unfortunately, the old ice cream factory was demolished, but at least you can ride a section of the old Northern Central Railroad Line where ice cream was taken for many others to enjoy.  You can get the schedule at http://www.steamintohistory.com.

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I scream.  You scream.  You can ride the steam for ice cream.

The National New York Central Railroad Museum, Elkhart, Indiana

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The New York Central Railroad is one of the most classic railroads in the history of the railroad in the United States of America.  The railroad was famous for its upscale passenger trains and fancy steam locomotives.  It was also known for its speedy trains avoiding most of the mountain regions of the states it served.  With all these great trains would it be great to have a museum to keep the memories of the New York Central Railroad alive.  The good news is that there is a museum… in Indiana?

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Why is the National New York Central Railroad Museum in Elkhart, Indiana and not in the state of New York?  That is a very good question.  The answer is because Elkhart was hub for the railroad having a huge railyard, the second largest yard east of the Mississippi River, that is still in use today although now by the Norfolk Southern Railroad.  This made the town of Elkhart, Indiana a great place for the New York Central Railroad Museum.

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You enter the parking lot of the museum.  You see the NYC Caboose 19211 and the NYC City of Elkhart Dining Car.  You see two other passenger cars and Locomotive 4085.  There is more rolling stock, but you will want to go inside to pay the admission first.

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Now you are inside.  If you think that there is nothing really to see inside, you are sadly mistaken.  After you peek at the inside of the dining car and look at the old switchboard, you enter the display rooms.  Lanterns and model trains and a luggage cart and a display of the ticket master’s office and many tools are on display.  While here, you cannot leave without seeing the model train display.  While there, you can see the walls full of model trains.

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Now you are finished on the inside, and you want to go outside.

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You walk past the Number 4085, and you go inside.  You sit in the engineer’s seat and get the view of the engineer.  The problem is that you are at the museum and will not be going anywhere.  You walk over to Number 3001.  You stare.  You still stare.  This is one impressive locomotive.  You walk by the rolling stock, and then you feel disappointed that you time is over.  Maybe not.  You may need to stick around for some Norfolk Southern trains or Amtrak to roll by.

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The National New York Central Railroad Museum is housed in and old freight house.  It displays the history of the New York Central Railroad through all its routes.  It is located at 721 S. Main Street in Elkhart, Indiana just south of the railroad crossing and across the tracks from the town center and the old train station.  It is a ten-minute drive from the Indiana Turnpike (Interstates 80 and 90) and a five-minute drive from U.S. 20.  It is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm Tuesday through Sunday.  (Closed Monday.)  Admission is $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors 61 and older and children 4 to 12 with children 3 and under free.  Parking is free and on site.  You can get more information at https://www.elkhartindiana.org/department/?fDD=54-0.

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Come to the National New York Central Railroad Museum.  Enjoy a little New York style… in northern Indiana.

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Isett Heritage Museum, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

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What is the Isett Heritage Museum?  It is a museum located two miles outside of the town of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.  What kind of a museum is it?  It is a museum that has a very large collection of items from the year 1800 to the present day.  Many museums have collections through various years, and many of those museums have unique items.  What makes the Isett Heritage Museum special?  It is a museum that takes you back in time.   A visit to the Isett Heritage Museum is a visit worth taking, and you will be glad to visit this museum.

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Some of you are saying, “This is great.  We have another museum that has many vintage items on display.  With all this stuff, I do not see myself visiting this place.  Why?  The reason is because this is not a railroad museum.  Therefore, I will not be making my way to this place.”

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The Isett Heritage Museum has many items on display.  Among those items are film and photo cameras, televisions, farm equipment, old printing equipment and so much more.  What more is there to see?  How about two model train displays?

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Part of the collections at the museum include two model train displays, plus there are a few model trains on the shelves above the actual displays.  Watch the trains roll around and around to include steam trains and a trolley.  You will be so excited about the trains that you may forget to check out the rest of the museum.  If you are fortunate enough, you may get to see Mr. Isett himself, the same Mr. Isett who collected at of the items for many visitors to enjoy.

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The Isett Heritage is located on Stone Creek Ridge Road about two miles from the town center of Huntingdon and from U.S. Route 22.  The collections are housed in three large structures so be prepared to do a lot of walking.  These structures are handicap accessible.  The museum is open year-round, but hours do vary between Winter and Summer.  (The museum is closed on weekends in December, January, February and March.)  Admission is $10.00, and parking is on site.  You can get more information and read more into the history of the museum at http://isettacres.com/.

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Welcome to the Isett Heritage Museum, a place that will take you back… in time.

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The National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio

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The United States Air Force is a branch of the United States Armed Forces that defends the skies of the United States of America, and they also provide air support of the Navy, the Army and the Marines.  The National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio displays the spirit and the dedication of the men and women who served in the Air Force.  Located next to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, it is the largest military aviation museum in the world.  The museum tells history of the Air Force from the very beginning to the present day.  From fighter jets to civilian places to helicopters to rockets to space shuttles and space crafts to Air Force One, there is a variety of aircraft at the Museum of the United States Air Force.  There is much to see at the museum.  You will need so much time to see everything.

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Now some of you are saying, “This place looks amazing.  You have a museum completely devoted to the United States Air Force that honors the men in women who served our nation.  As much as I respect those in uniform, I do see one very big problem.  This is called the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  Those who served in the in the Air Force did so by being in the air.  The only time they were ever on the ground is when the planes were on the ground.  Railroads are never in the air but on the ground.  Because the is about the Air Force and not about railroads, you can be rest assured that I will not be taking off from here.”

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The National Museum of the United States Air Force is about the United States Air Force.  Those who served in the United States Air Force did so in the air.  With all that, you must wonder what this museum has to do with the railroad.

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Although the Air Force spends their time in the air, there are times when they are on the ground.  While on the ground supplies need to be transported to different locations.  How was that done?  Some of it was done by rail.  As you enter the museum complex, you first see the Air Park.  The park consists of, of course, airplanes, but it also has a boxcar on display.  Why is this boxcar here?  It called the ‘Peacekeeper Rail Garrison Car’, and it was used on a train that was part of the Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force.  The trains were strategically used on the railroads across the nation as a mobile defense unit as opposed to a still target.

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Now some of you are saying, “This is nice to see, but this is just a boxcar outside.”

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That is true, but you do have to go inside to see something else.

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The museum is housed in four hangers.  As you enter the museum and pass through the gift shop, you walk by the World War I gallery and the Interwar Years gallery.  You then enter the World War II gallery.  Here you will see planes used during World War II.  You will also see a French ‘Forty and Eight’ boxcar.  It was a boxcar used by the Germans during World War II to transport supplies to the troops, and it was also used to transport Prisoners of War and Holocaust victims to the different concentration camps across Europe.  The conditions during the transport were very harsh, and to make things worse, they had to survive being bombed by allied aircraft.  One of these cars are on display at the museum to remember those who went through these conditions.

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Now you have a reason to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  Along with the two rail cars you will see all types of aircraft used during wartime and during peacetime.  The people of this museum go through great lengths to show the life of the United States Air Force and the great dedication of those who wore the United States Air Force uniform.  Although the museum is completely handicap accessible, it is a very large museum.  You will want to set aside plenty of time to see everything here.  Once you are finished inside the museum, there is a memorial walk where monuments are set up to remember fallen soldiers, and there are also outside displays that include a World War II Air Tower.

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The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located at 1100 Spaatz Street next to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.  It is minutes from Interstates 70 and 675.  It is open seven days a week from 9:00am to 5:00pm but closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  (Please note that not all exhibits are open year-round.)  Parking is free and on site.  Admission is also free.  Please note that you will have to pass through a security checkpoint so it is suggested that you only bring what you will need and leave the unnecessary things in your car.  You can get directions and more information about the museum to include some of their collections at https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/.

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Up you go into the wild blue yonder.  There you go to the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force, and nothing should stop you from visiting this museum.

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The Old Herndon Depot, Herndon, Virginia

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You are driving around in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C.  You come upon this town known as Herndon.  It is a town like any other town.  It has houses.  It has stores and shopping centers.  It has a town center with a city hall.  Then you see what looks like an old train station.

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A train station?  There are no railroads in Herndon.

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Today, you will not find any railroads in Herndon, but that was not always the case.  Yes, you did see an old train station in Herndon.  In matter of fact, it is in its original location.  Where are the trains?  The tracks were taken up in 1968, and the right-of-way is now a rail trail.  The truth is that the town of Herndon owes its existence to the railroad.  When the railroad came to the region, the town of Herndon was established.  Surrounded by farms, the depot was a place where local farmer brought their goods to be shipped by the railroad to places like Washington D.C. and the ports of Alexandria, Virginia.  Sadly, the railroad began to lose money.  Train service ceased in 1968.  The tracks are now gone, but the depot remained as a reminder of the town’s railroad heritage.

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Is it just sitting there to deteriorate like other train depots?

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The answer is no.  It was restored, and it houses a museum that is open every Sunday from 12:00pm to 3:00pm that tells the story of the town, and it is also the home of the Herndon Historical Society.  You can also walk to an old caboose that is open on certain occasions.  If you have a little time, you can walk the Washington and Old Dominion Trail and get a feel of the railroad that once ran along this route.

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The next time you are driving through Herndon, Virginia, take a trip by the old depot.  Go back in the days of the railroad.  Remember the trains that once stopped in a town called Herndon.

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Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, Dennison, Ohio

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Welcome to Dreamsville U.S.A.  What is Dreamsville U.S.A.?  It is known by its original town name of Dennison, Ohio.  What is so special about Dennison to get the names Dreamsville?

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To answer this question, we must go back to World War II.  America was attacked and was going to war.  Many of the soldiers and war equipment was traveling by train, and many of the trains were passing through a town in Ohio named Dennison.  As the trains stopped here, about four thousand volunteers would come to the depot and serve the servicemen free food.  This is how the name ‘Dreamsville’ came to this town, and the Servicemen’s Canteen was established at the depot to serve those making a great sacrifice for their nation a nice free meal.

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Dennison, Ohio is the halfway point on the railroad line between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Columbus, Ohio making this town a great stopping point for trains and a place for railroad shops.  Today, the trains still come through, but they no longer stop here.  Instead of demolishing the depot, it was restored.

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Welcome to the Dennison Depot Museum.  Housed in the same depot where soldiers were served free lunches as they stepped off the train, you can now get a meal inside the restaurant that is inside the depot.

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So, you are not hungry.  Well then, you still can walk through this museum.  However, your journey begins outside.

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The first thing you will see (pending on which direction you are coming from) is locomotive Number 4759 followed by a tank car that is followed by a box car from the Pennsylvania Railroad.  You have the flat car from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad that is used as a stage for events.  The last car is the caboose just like the good old days of railroading.  Next to the caboose is the Railroad Walk of Fame Walkway and Memorial Walk remembering those who worked on the railroad and the servicemen who stopped here including those who lost their lives in battle.  Next to the walk is Car 7528 from the Pennsylvania Railroad with the faces of the servicemen in the windows.

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If that is not enough, you do have the other side of the depot.

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You see the Number 2700 steam locomotive from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway followed by more passenger cars with the faces of the servicemen.  You then come to a hospital-surgical car used during World War II.

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You have seen so much outside.  You now wonder how much there is to see inside.

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You enter the old ticket office which is now the admission office.  You could grab a bite to eat in the restaurant, but you want to see the museum first.  You pass through the gift shop and then see a few exhibits before you see a luggage car full of luggage.  You would go farther, but you have a movie to catch.  What move?  It is the movie that tells the story of a train depot in an Ohio town called Dennison.  The movie ends, and you see the display of the Pennsylvania Railroad parlor car, but you choose to see the model train.  The display is laid out to show what the region looked like back in the day.  After you have seen enough, you return to the Pennsylvania Railroad parlor car thinking that it is a simple display only to realize that it is an actual parlor car at least the end.  You have just boarded the train that you saw on the outside being pulled by the Chesapeake and Ohio locomotive.  The only problem is that the train is not going anywhere.  Anyway, you see the newsstand where you can get your news.  Wait!  The Salvation Army Canteen is there to give you free food.

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Be advised.  You have barely entered the museum.  You may not also want to eat the food because it tastes like plastic.

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As you continue, you can have a seat in the ticket office.  The ticket master will not mind.  He will enjoy the company.  You then enter the room where you will hear the many stories of the days of the Salvation Army Canteen serving the servicemen.  Be warned.  The stories are very moving.  After the stories, you will continue through the cars and see a bed display along with the galley and the dining car.  Do not forget to see the bathroom.  You may get tired so you will want to take a seat and look out the window.

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You pass through exhibits about life on the railroad, and then you enter the surgical car which was used during World War II.  You continue through more exhibits about life on the railroad, and then you make one discovery.  What is this discovery?  You discover that you have reached the end, and you must go back to where you started.

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You have depot museums, and then you have the Dennison Depot Museum.  It not only tells the life of the railroad, but it takes the time to honor not just those who served in the military, but it honors those who volunteered their time to serve the servicemen.  The people here go through great lengths to make sure that the story of Dennison is never forgotten but remembered for many generations to come.  A visit here will be one that you will truly cherish.

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The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum is at its original location at 400 Center Street in Dennison, Ohio next to the rail line.  It is easily accessible from U.S. Routes 36 and 250.  (Signs will point the way.)  Parking is free and across the street.  The museum is open year-round, but hours do vary by day.  (The museum is closed on Mondays.)  You can get more information about the museum to include the hours and admission information at https://dennisondepot.org/.  If you are fortunate enough, you may see a train roll by.

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Welcome to Dreamsville.  For many servicemen, it was a dream come true, and it was all made possible by the old depot that still makes dreams come true today.

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The Star Barn Village at Stone Gables Estate, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

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The Star Barn in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania is one spectacular barn to see.  Built in 1877 in Middletown, Pennsylvania, this barn was a major landmark for those driving nearby.  Before it was a spectacular barn, it was… a barn.  Yes, a barn like any other barn where you would find horses, cows and chickens.  It was basically part of a farm just like any other barn.  In 1986, it was no longer an active farm.  The animals were moved elsewhere, and the barn was left to deteriorate.  It was to be demolished until a group of historical preservationists and volunteers saved the barn.  It was purchased by the Abel family who had it moved to its present location in Elizabethtown, and it was made into the spectacular site you see today.  Today, the Star Barn is the star attraction of The Star Barn Village.  It is a venue used for events to include weddings and private events as well as corporate events, and there are even places to spend the night away from any highway noise.  When you visit The Star Barn, you will be totally amazed, and the memories will last a lifetime.

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Some of you are saying, “This is amazing.  I am so glad that this barn was not demolished.  It is such a spectacular barn.  There is one problem with this place.  This place is a barn.  There are no railroads.  Therefore, they should not bother leaving the barn door open for me.”

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A spectacular barn with no railroads?  Is this the case with The Star Barn?  These are very interesting questions.

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As you enter The Star Barn Village from the main road, you come upon a covered bridge.  You cross the bridge, but you must stop.  Why?  Because it says ‘Stop.  Look.  Listen’.  For what?  The train.  The first thing you see at the end of the bridge is a railroad crossing.  Yes, the Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lincoln Railroad does come.  It is pulled a newly built steam locomotive built exclusively for the Star Barn that pulls a replica of the Lincoln Funeral Car that carried the remains of Abraham Lincoln across the nation to his final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.  It runs along an old stretch of a railroad right of way.  During certain events, you can ride this train.  It currently runs on a two-thirds mile stretch of the property, but there are plans to extend the line to three miles.  The vision is to tell not just the history of the property but to tell the history of America.  Passengers will get a great narrated ride from the conductor.

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The owners of The Star Barn Village have gone to great lengths to make this place special.  Whether if you are attending a special event or having a wedding here, you will be totally amazed at what you will see here.  It will be a place that you will want to return to.

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The Star Barn Village at Stone Gables Estates is located at 1 Hollinger Lane in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.  It is only open to the public during special events, but it can be booked for personal events like weddings, reunions or any other event.  (Please note that there is no trespassing on the property when no events or when private events are happening.)  You can go to https://thestarbarn.com to see upcoming events or learn how you can book your own event.

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Come to The Star Barn and be a star.

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