On January 7, 2018, the National Christmas Center of Paradise, Pennsylvania, closed its doors.
Jim Morrison, founder, curator, and historian of the center, along with his business partner, Dave Murtaugh, began a search for someone who could purchase the center’s Christmas collections and keep the spirit of Christmas alive by continuing to share these treasures with others.
In early 2019, the Christmas collection was carefully packed, loaded onto numerous tractor trailers, and transported to a climate-controlled storage area where it will be monitored, cleaned, restored, and put into full working order until its new home is ready.
The National Christmas Center will be housed in 40,000 S.F. of the future
restored Barns of Belmont.
1867 Belmont barn and its associated structures, located along Fruitville Pike in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, were threatened by impending development.
There will also be several new and exciting collections added, all
under the watchful eyes of Santa Morrison.
The Herr’s Mill Covered Bridge, also known as “Soudersburg Covered Bridge,” was originally located in Paradise Township on S. Ronks Road in Paradise, Pennsylvania.
In 1955, Hurricane Hazel took the roof from this bridge and dropped it directly across the creek intact.
In 1980, it was added to the National Register of Historical Places.
The Herr’s Mill Covered Bridge was deteriorating and in imminent danger of falling into Pequea Creek when it was rescued.
In April, 2019, one span from the original Herr’s Mill Covered Bridge was reconstructed/restored at Stone Gables Estate as the first covered bridge.
The opening of the first of the two covered bridges to the public was April 22, 2019, with the reenactment of the Lincoln Funeral Train passing by the bridge.
Lancaster County is currently home to 29 covered bridges, more than any other county in Pennsylvania.
Stone Gables Estate is home to the Harrisburg, Lincoln & Lancaster Railroad which features a replica of an 1868 steam locomotive, pulling replicas of the 1848 Pioneer Coach and the 1865 presidential private car, “United States,” which was used as Lincoln’s Funeral Car.
Passengers get an opportunity to ride the train through the center of the 275-acre Stone Gables Estate, passing hand-cut and stacked original stone wall through the woodlands with 250 to 350-year-old “witness” trees along the rail line. The line was chartered in 1835 as the Harrisburg, Portsmouth, Mt. Joy & Lancaster Railroad. Construction for this line was completed in 1838. It was sold in 1860 to the Pennsylvania Railroad. The tracks were removed in 1903 when the new Pennsylvania Railroad mainline opened through Elizabethtown, which today is the Amtrak line running between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.
PIONEER COACH FACTS
The yellow passenger day coach, known as the “Pioneer Coach,” was built by Dave Kloke in 2019 and is a replica of a coach built in 1848 for the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, which pulled the first passenger train westbound out of Chicago.
LINCOLN FUNERAL CAR FACTS
In 2018, Stone Gables Estate purchased the only replica of the Lincoln Funeral Car, built by Dave Kloke.