Pennsylvania is a pretty big state, so maybe it’s appropriate that it has some rather large landmarks along its roads. After all, it’s not everywhere that you see an oversized coffee pot beckoning you to stop for a while, or a colossal shoe house that even serves ice cream. And what better way to advertise roasted peanuts than with a giant elephant outside your store?
Back in the day when road trips were fairly new, marketers looked for ways to catch people’s attention as they drove along the nation’s burgeoning highway system. And nothing makes you hit the brakes quicker than a massive roadside attraction! Here are some massive sights you have to see to believe.
Located in York, PA, this is one of those attention-getting monuments that used to be so popular. Located on the appropriately named Shoe House Road off of Rt. 462, the towering brown and white laced-up shoe was built in 1948 as an advertising gimmick to bring attention to Col. Mahlon N. Haines’ business acumen. Born in 1875, Haines, known as the “Shoe Wizard of York,” started his business with $127 of consigned shoes; by 1907 he owned his first shoe shop and by the time he built the shoe house in his 70s, that number had grown to more than 40 stores.
The massive five-story shoe, which is 48 feet long and 25 feet high, is open to tours, and it’s well worth the $5 admission to check out the three bedrooms, two bathroom, kitchen and living room, as well as the portrait of Haines embedded in the glass of the main door. It’s really neat to hear Haines’ rags-to-riches story as well, and to see how he shared his good fortune with others. Not only did he give each of his managers their own shoe store, but he also gave a number of York county couples who had been married for more than 50 years the opportunity to spend a free weekend in the shoe house.
Built in 1925, The Coffee Pot used to serve as a favorite dining spot for travelers along Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Highway. While you can’t dine there now, you can step inside to check out the 18-foot-high building, which was originally built by David Koontz as a lunch stand in Bedford, PA. The Coffee Pot then served as a bar before falling into disrepair and sitting empty for a number of years before it was bought by the Bedford County Fair Association for $1 in 2003. The building was moved across the street and restored at a cost of $80,000 and today welcomes people at the entrance to the Bedford County Fairgrounds.
Speaking of the Lincoln Highway (Rt. 30), you can’t miss the 18-foot high Pied Piper blowing his horn at what used to be the entrance to Story Land, a privately run fairytale park that closed in the 1980s. Located in Schellsburg, PA, the statue is the only one from that park that you can visit; the others are located on private property behind the gift and craft store now located on that site.
I’m not sure if the immense gray elephant statue in the yard at Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium is actually oversized or only elephant-sized, but regardless, it’s enough to make you stop at this eye-popping store, which features more than 70 flavors of homemade fudge and more than 700 varieties of old-time candy—along with elephants of every size and shape imaginable. Located in Orrtanna, PA, right off of Rt. 30, the store not only features delicacies of every kind, (savory bacon sticks, anyone?) but an actual elephant museum houses more than 12,000 pachyderm-inspired items. There is no fee to wander through the store and attached museum, but donations are accepted to support The Elephant Sanctuary, Adams County SPCA and the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter
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Freelance writer. Road tripper. Travel diva. Dog rescuer. Writes for food or kibbles and bits. Based out of Pittsburgh, PA, via Juneau, AK, Vanessa has been a freelance writer for more than 25 years, and has been published in many diverse publications,including GEEK, Recreation News, CATS, VFW magazine, the Antique Trader and more. An avid traveler, she always brings home amazing memories...and often more dogs. Follow Vanessa on her blog, Mood Swings and Other Things, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
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