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Things you didn't know about Harrisburg, PA

Things you didn't know about Harrisburg, PA

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrisburg,_Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania the capital city of Pennsylvania, is often overlooked by travelers focusing on Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. However, this city on the Susquehanna River has a rich history and several unique claims to fame that many people are unaware of. From its role in the Civil War to its connections to iconic foods, here are some fascinating things you likely didn’t know about Harrisburg.

Civil War History

During the Civil War, Harrisburg served as a major transportation hub, with a network of railroads linking the North. When Confederate troops invaded Pennsylvania in 1863 before the Battle of Gettysburg, Harrisburg was their main objective as they sought to seize the industrialized Susquehanna Valley. The city’s residents famously built fortifications along the river’s banks and prepared for an attack that never came as the Confederates were turned back.

Birthplace of American Motorcycling

While most associate motorcycles with manufacturers in the Midwest, the Keystone State’s capital has a unique claim as the birthplace of American motorcycling. In 1891, the Pennsylvanian founders of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company built their first motorcycle prototype in a shed in Harrisburg before moving operations to Milwaukee.

World's Most Indestructible Object

Harrisburg is home to the Pennsylvania State Museum, which houses a mind-boggling artifact – the world’s most indestructible object. This is the Harrington Seed, a tiny fossil seed estimated to be around 360 million years old. When tested, this minuscule object originating from an extinct plant species was found to be more resistant to impacts and heating than diamonds, buckminster fullerenes, or any other known substance.

Three Mile Island

Just across the Susquehanna from Harrisburg lies the site of one of the most notorious nuclear accidents in U.S. history. In 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant experienced a partial meltdown, releasing radiation into the environment. While not on the scale of Chernobyl, the incident was a pivotal event that shaped public perceptions about nuclear power’s risks and led to sweeping changes in industry regulations nationwide.

The Mushroom Capital

With its fertile farming regions, south-central Pennsylvania produces a staggering 63% of all mushrooms grown in the United States. Fittingly, Harrisburg and the surrounding area have earned the nickname “The Mushroom Capital of the World.” The region is particularly famous for its output of white mushrooms, with mushroom farms dotting the landscape and an annual Mushroom Festival taking place each September.

Birthplace of Hershey Chocolate

While the town of Hershey and its famous chocolate factories are located about 15 miles from Harrisburg, the internationally renowned candy brand traces its origins to the state capital. It was in Harrisburg in 1886 that Milton Hershey launched his first candy business, the Hershey Chocolate Company, before moving operations to the town that now bears his name.

Fertile Grounds for Iconic Foods

In addition to mushrooms and chocolate, a number of other iconic American food brands got their start or have strong ties to the Harrisburg area. These include Herlocher’s Dipping Mustard, sauces from Mamma Ricotta’s, the classic Turkey Hill ice cream and iced tea brands, and the original Kunzler Meat Company’s smoked hams and bacons. Chow down in Harrisburg, and you’ll be immersed in regional culinary history.

With its historical significance, unique landmarks, and culinary claims to fame, Pennsylvania’s overlooked capital of Harrisburg offers much more to discover than meets the eye. So take a closer look at this unsung city on your next trip to the Keystone State. Learn more about The Best Experiences in Harrisburg, PA

Frequently Asked Questions

In 1891, the founders of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company built their first motorcycle prototype in a shed in Harrisburg before moving operations to Milwaukee. This makes Harrisburg's claim as the original birthplace of American motorcycle manufacturing.

It is the Harrington Seed, a 360 million-year-old fossil seed that has been found to be more resistant to impacts and heating than diamonds or any other known substance. This tiny remnant of an extinct plant species is virtually indestructible.

Harrisburg was a major transportation hub and the objective of Confederate troops invading Pennsylvania before the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. Harrisburg's residents famously built fortifications along the Susquehanna River in preparation for an attack that never materialized.

The fertile farming regions around Harrisburg produce 63% of all the mushrooms grown in the United States, particularly white mushrooms. The area's massive mushroom farming output has earned it the nickname the "Mushroom Capital of the World."

Hershey Chocolate, Turkey Hill ice cream and iced tea, Herlocher's Dipping Mustard, Mamma Ricotta's sauces, and Kunzler smoked meats all got their start or have deep connections to the Harrisburg region.

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