It was not long after William Penn began settling the new Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that hardy pioneers began to brave the wilderness north of Philadelphia to establish homesteads on America’s western frontier. By 1713, the first iron furnaces were put into blast to deliver tools the settlers needed to carve out new lives. The first Amish migrating to the United States arrived in 1740, along with thousands of Pennsylvania Germans resettling from the Palatine in Germany.
Two centuries later, as the Reading Railroad steamed though Berks County, no one knew the area would evolve into such a unique and eclectic region. The region is home to authentic Pennsylvania German heritage, one of only two ethnic groups that created their own unique culture in the United States. The beautiful, rolling land that was once frontier is now punctuated with folk festivals, beautiful historic homesteads, a world class museum, traditional foods, and more, all wrapped in the small town feel of yesterday and the energy of today. Industry arrived with the railroad carrying hard, hot burning anthracite coal from further north that fueled the American Industrial Revolution.
Visiting the Daniel Boone Homestead, you’ll be brought right to the American frontier, to experience life on a frontier farm where eleven family members lived together in quarters no bigger than today’s normal living room. You can learn more about the century long shift from trades to industry and Pennsylvania German heritage at the Berks History Center and explore an authentic museum quality Pennsylvania German farm at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Center. You’ll be welcomed by your first Distlefink at the Berks Heritage Center which reveals more of the story of earlier life in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Learn more of the story of the coal mining that drove the region’s economy for more than a century at Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine (and be sure to ride the steam train). Get on the road at the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles where almost all of the vehicles, from cars and trucks to wagons and carriages, were built in Pennsylvania. Take flight at the Mid Atlantic Air Museum chronicling the history of aviation in the region from the first manned balloon flight in 1793 through the aviation manufacturers who helped win World War II. And you can’t miss rejuvenating at The Pagoda, as dusk slowly descends on the area as the lights of the city begin to twinkle below.