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Harrisburg is more than just interstates, bridges and politicians — test your trivia knowledge about this capital city and its sweet neighbor, Hershey, with the facts below!

Walnut Street Bridge, completed in 1890, is the oldest bridge still crossing the Susquehanna and the oldest steel-span bridge of its type in the nation. An early example of “sticking it to the man,” it was built as a lower-toll alternative to a bridge just downstream.

Originally Harrisburg was known as Louisburg in honor of King Louis XVI of France. At the insistence of John Harris, Jr., the son of the first pioneer to own land at the present site, the name was changed, though the newly formed county still bears the title of the King’s eldest son, Louis-Joseph-Xavier-François, known as the Dauphin.

Charles Dickens crossed Old Camelback, an arched covered bridge spanning the Susquehanna, in 1842 and described the experience in his travelogue “American Notes.” He stayed overnight in a hotel where Market Square Plaza now stands.

One of Harrisburg’s most important mayors was also its youngest: 29-year-old Vance McCormick became mayor in 1902, and it was the youthful Hizzoner who established the city’s park system. Soon after this, the capital had more parks per square mile than any other American city (a title now held by San Francisco).

Inside the State Capitol Building and laid into the mosaic tile floor are seven Native American petroglyph designs, recreated from the originals discovered along the Susquehanna near Safe Harbor.

The Harrisburg/Hershey region recently placed fifth in Forbes magazine’s “America’s Most Livable Cities” rankings and was also named the nation’s top minor league sports market by the SportsBusiness Journal thanks to its love for Hershey Bears ice hockey, City Islanders soccer and Harrisburg Senators baseball.

Sweet tooths rejoice! Over 80 million Hershey Kisses smooch their way off the line daily at the company’s three US factories, located in Virginia, California and, of course, Hershey.

When Milton S. Hershey sold his Lancaster Caramel Company in August of 1900, it was for the equivalent of nearly $28 million in today’s money. Pretty sweet!

When founded in 1932, Hershey’s ice hockey team was called the Hershey B’ars. Four years later, the 7,286-seat Hersheypark Arena was opened, where the renamed Bears would play until 2002.

Mechanicsburg was named for the many mechanics who settled in the town and who built and repaired wagons headed west through the Cumberland Valley in the early 1800s.


sources: harrisburgarchives.org; portal.state.pa.us; visithersheyharrisburg.org; mhs-pa.org; sportsbusinessdaily.com; blog.pennlive.com