York County: The History of Industry

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For over 250 years, York County has stood witness to American ingenuity, home to some of the country’s most innovative people and companies. In the 1700s, the region’s abundant natural resources drove the local economy. Early residents helped pioneer the Conestoga Wagon, which in turn helped the agricultural industry expand.

In the 1800s, York County was home to many firsts, including the first iron steamboat and first coal locomotive produced in the United States. The Pfaltzgraff Company—America’s oldest pottery maker—began operations in 1811, and recently started a new venture: factory tours of its Thomasville facility. In the latter part of the 19th Century, York Manufacturing Co. opened its doors. Today, the YORK name is synonymous with quality cooling and refrigeration equipment.

The "York" stamp appeared on a number of well-known products in the early 1900s, most notably York Barbells and York Peppermint Patties. The York Plan became a national model for communities to convert existing manufacturing operations for wartime production. As the 20th Century progressed, some of the world’s best known products found a home in York County, including Harley-Davidson, Starbucks, and Doritos.

This heritage is evident today in the number of manufacturers that have opened their doors to discerning travelers looking for something a little different, something off the beaten path. In fact, today York County is known as the "Factory Tour Capital of the World." Visit the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau for a full listing of factory tours.

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© 2000, 2002 by Scott D. Butcher

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