Pennsylvania Dutch Country: Wikis

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pennsylvania Dutch Country refers to an area of southeastern Pennsylvania, United States that by the American Revolution had a high percentage of Lutherans. There were also German Reformed, Moravian, Amish, Mennonite and other German sectarian inhabitants. It is also a place where the Deitsch language was historically common. The term was used in the middle of the 20th century as a description of a region with a distinctive Pennsylvania Dutch culture, but in recent decades the composition of the population is changing and the phrase is used more now in a tourism context than any other.

Counties of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Contents

Geography

Geographically the area referred to as Amish/Dutch country centers around Allentown, Hershey, Lancaster, Reading and York and the surrounding counties. It includes the counties of Chester, Lancaster, York, Adams, Franklin, Dauphin, Lebanon, Berks, Montgomery, Bucks, Northampton, Lehigh, Schuylkill, Snyder, Union, Juniata, Mifflin, Huntingdon, Northumberland, and Centre. Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants would spread from this area outwards outside the Pennsylvania borders between the mountains along river valleys into neighboring Maryland (Washington and Frederick counties), West Virginia, Virginia (Shenandoah Valley) and North Carolina and this larger region has been historically referred to as Greater Pennsylvania. The historic Pennsylvania Dutch diaspora in Ontario has been referred to as Little Pennsylvania.

The country lies in the Piedmont region of the Appalachian mountains. The landscape is marked by rolling, wooded hills, deep stream valleys, and fertile soils. The Susquehanna River bisects the region and provides its drainage.

History

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The term "Dutch" is an archaic term for Germans, and refers to the German-speaking origins of some of the earliest European immigrants to the area in the late 17th and 18th centuries. The German-speaking settlers came from a variety of countries and religious backgrounds, but most became assimilated to Anglo-American language and culture beginning in the later 19th century with English language evangelism efforts and the outlawing of German language schooling. The assimilation process continued soon after the turn of the 20th century with World War One, consolidated schools and the advent of mandatory public education until the age of 16, with added pressures from increased mobility, the influence of English language media communications and urbanization.

Originally, the economy of the region was almost entirely rural and agricultural, based on the immigrants' dream of bettering their lot through the ownership of their own farms. The small tradesmen indispensable to a rural economy, such as blacksmiths, wheelwrights, millers and storekeepers, constituted the bulk of the non-farm economy. In the 19th century, a small educated class, comprising the Lutheran and Reformed ministers, began to emerge. The Pennsylvania seminaries educated them in high German, so they could preach to their flocks in a scholarly way.

The advent of the industrial revolution brought technologies based on coal, iron, canals, and railroads, but the Dutch, unversed in English, and lacking connections to the English speaking establishment, were unable to engage in entrepreneurship on a large scale. Consequently, the large scale enterprises which came to characterize the industrialized eastern half of the region, such as the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company (marketer of the coal branded "Old Company's Lehigh"), the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and the Bethlehem Iron Company (later known as Bethlehem Steel) were founded by English speaking residents from the Philadelphia and New York areas. These English speakers (referred to by the Dutch as simply "the English") dominated the managerial and engineering positions of these companies, while the Dutch supplied the blue collar and supervisory workforce.

As technology advanced during the late 19th century, higher technology companies such as Mack Truck and New Jersey Zinc moved to the region as well. As the local industries expanded, immigrants from Eastern Europe (primarily Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary) were recruited for the low-skilled positions, while the more established Dutch retained the skilled blue collar and supervisory positions. The Dutch influence on the shop floor was so great that some Slavic immigrants became bilingual in their native language and in Pennsylvania Dutch, while not yet mastering English.

Today

In the 20th century, however, universal public education in English and relatively easy access to higher education erased many of the elements that made the Pennsylvania Dutch Country a distinctive region of the United States. The information age and globalization greatly reduced the dependence of the region on industrial jobs. The Eastern part of the region (Northampton, Lehigh, and Berks Counties) is now dominated by information-intensive white collar employment.

The western counties of the region experienced industrialization as well, with Hershey Foods being the most notable example, but it was less intensive, and agriculture retained a larger share of the economy. In the middle of the 20th century, both Amish and non-Amish entrepreneurs began to promote the area as a tourist destination. Though there are still plenty of Amish attempting to follow their traditional way of life, tourism and population growth have significantly changed the appearance and cultural flavor of the area. This area is within 50 miles of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Harrisburg, and has not escaped the effects of being located on the western edge of the East Coast conurbation which stretches from Washington to New York City.

The Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonites, who have resisted these urbanization efforts most successfully, have retained aspects of their 18th century way of life, including the Deitsch dialect; however, these groups have changed significantly in the last two hundred years. Nevertheless, for the Old Order groups, change has come slower, and gradually they have become more and more distinctively different as the surrounding rural and urban population of Pennsylvania has changed.

See also

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Notable locations

Nearby attractions

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Pennsylvania Dutch Country is a region in Pennsylvania also referred to as South Central Pennsylvania. The region is home to many major tourist attractions such as Lancaster county's Amish country, Harrisburg's state capitol and museums and Hershey's chocolate world and theme park.

Understand

While Pennsylvania Dutch Country consists of a lot of rural areas and is noted for its high Amish population, it is home to over 1.5 million people and maintains one of the highest rates of population growth in the Northeast United States due to lower cost of living but close proximity to major metropolitan areas. It is truly a diverse region with rolling hills, orchards and farms but also growing, vibrant yet historic cities.

Talk

Much of the population is bi-lingual, speaking both English and a dialect of German called "Pennsylvania Dutch." Smaller children speak only this dialect until starting school. The name "Pennsylvania Dutch" is actually a mispronunciation of "Deutsch" or German. Church services are held in "high German," as opposed to the dialect.

Get in

By plane

There are several regional airports in south central Pennsylvania but the largest and most used is Harrisburg International Airport [1] (MDT) located in Middletown, just minutes from Harrisburg and PA Route 283. Harrisburg International Airport has over a dozen non-stop flights to cities in the U.S. and Toronto in Canada.

Get around

By car

The easiest way to get around the region is by car. There is an extensive network of roads and the area is criss-crossed by several major interstates (81, 76, 83) and U.S. routes (11, 15, 22, 30).

By train

Amtrak's high-speed Keystone line [2] travels through Lancaster and Dauphin county with stops in Lancaster, Mount Joy, Elizabethtown, Middletown and Harrisburg is useful if traveling between Lancaster and Harrisburg but does not link up the rest of the region.

  • Plain and Fancy Farm, [3]. Good all-around tour of the Amish community including a restaurant, bus tours and a movie. Particularly good if you're a foreign visitor without a car.
  • Ski Roundtop [4]
  • Ski Liberty [5]
  • Whitetail Resort [6]
  • Miller's Smorgasbord, 2811 Lincoln Highway East Ronks, PA 17572 (On the left side of Rt 30. About a mile past rt 896 when travelling East.), 1-800-669-3568, [7]. Very authentic Dutch food for a fair price. Restaurant is often crowded, so reservations are highly recommended. There are many shops on the premises which are well worth checking out.  edit
  • Park City Center, 142 Park City Center, Lancaster, [8]. The region's largest shopping mall featuring over 180 stores.  edit
  • White Horse Luncheonette.  edit
  • Hershey Harrisburg Official Visitors Center [9]
  • Lancaster County Pennsylvania Dutch Country Official Visitors Center [10]
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