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Frankeberger's Tavern
Frankeberger's Tavern Photo courtesy WITF, Harrisburg

Taverns by the Wayside - Cumberland County

A local county public television station, WITF, Harrisburg, has produced a thirty-minute program, "Taverns by the Wayside," an evocative look at early American communities and westward travel two centuries ago. Featuring historic images, live videography of historic settings, period music, newspaper accounts and excerpts from diaries, "Taverns by the Wayside" weaves personal recollections of tavern life and travel into an informative narrative. Filming at several historic tavern structures, the production visualizes and re-creates the tavern experience for the viewer employing period re-enactors. Local actors have recorded voice-overs of quotes from letters and diaries of travelers who frequented the taverns.

"Taverns by the Wayside" has been produced with the guidance and cooperation of the local organization, 250th Cumberland Anniversary Celebration 2000. The program's premiere will be part of the year-long millennium celebration of the Cumberland County, Pennsylvania's 1750 founding. Although the program will focus on the well-documented tavern experiences of Cumberland County, "Taverns by the Wayside" was designed to attract the general public television audience. It premiered on April 18, 1999, and the program is being offered statewide with a web-based educational outreach during the year 2000.

At the time when western expansion was just beginning, taverns played a crucial role in the early development of America, serving as rest stop, dining room, bar, store, ballroom, auditorium, newsstand, and gossip parlor -- the community social center. Situated along the few main roads, taverns hosted travelers of varying backgrounds who left vivid accounts in diaries, letters, and journals.

Cumberland County's travel and road history serves as a microcosm. At the intersection of travel routes which today have become Interstate 81 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Cumberland County experienced a mass migration of travelers and commerce through central Pennsylvania going by stagecoach, Conestoga wagon, and on horseback. By the 1840s over 200 taverns had opened and closed on the roads throughout Cumberland County. The arrival of railroads and the eventual construction of modern highways brought to an end the life of Cumberland's taverns. Remarkably, 55 tavern structures remain standing in the county, with most renovated into private homes or bed & breakfasts; some have become tavern museums. Many of these structures are featured in the television production.

Project documentation includes a nine-page narrative, a "rough cut" videotape of the documentary, 16 slides taken for the documentary, 17 photographs picturing modern-day Carlisle Pike (Middlesex Township, Cumberland County), and information about the 250th Anniversary Committee organization.

Originally submitted by: William F. Goodling, Representative (19th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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