Sleeping at the farm show, 1999

About 40 farm show exhibitors bunk down for the night on cots in a hallway near the sheep barn in this photo from the 1999 Pennsylvania Farm Show.

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Excerpts and summaries of news stories from the former Intelligencer Journal, Lancaster New Era and Sunday News that focus on the events in the county’s past that are noteworthy, newsworthy or just strange.

25 years ago

At this time of year, the Pennsylvania Farm Show is always in the news, and each year reporters seek new angles to cover an old topic.

Such was the case in 1999, when the New Era explored the topic of "hitting the hay" - in the metaphorical sense.

For many farmers, driving back and forth from their home farms to Harrisburg every day is simply impossible. And even staying in a Harrisburg-area hotel for the week might be a problem if the notorious Farm Show winter weather comes into play.

So what other option is there but to stay at the show itself, where the animals are?

The New Era followed the Zimmerman family of Reinholds through a night spent with their sheep. They set up cots - along with dozens of other Farm Show exhibitors - in an empty corridor adjacent to the sheep barn, and brought coolers, slow cookers, card games and other comforts of home.

As the reporter put it, it was an evening of "barnyard sounds, continuous country music, co-ed slumber parties and late-night hijinks."

In the headlines:

Clinton's State of the Union won't touch on impeachment

Sweatshop workers sue U.S. clothing makers, retailers

The life of a legend: Michael Jordan retires

Check out the Jan. 14, 1999, Lancaster New Era here.

50 years ago

Peach Bottom generator, 1974

Workers inspect a huge electric generator at the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant in this photo from January 1974.

The energy crisis of the 1970s generated near-daily news stories, but it was rare for those stories to focus on something positive.

But the Jan. 14, 1974, New Era did just that. In response to the crisis, Philadelphia Electric Co. had dramatically accelerated the timeline for bringing the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant's Generator No. 2 online.

The generator - one of the largest in the world - had a capacity of more than a million kilowatts, and once activated, would save the equivalent of 5.5 million barrels of oil per year.

In the headlines:

Dolphins win second straight Super Bowl

Animal tracker trailing "Bigfoot"

Kissinger says Israel, Egypt close to accord

Check out the Jan. 14, 1974, Lancaster New Era here.

75 years ago

The "flying mail man" would soon stop appearing in Lancaster County's skies, the New Era reported in January 1949.

The term referred to an early air mail service that connected 120 small cities and towns throughout the eastern United States - including Lancaster. 

The service utilized small, single-engine planes which wouldn't even land to pick up mail. Instead, mail sacks would be placed atop poles on the runway, with loops atop each sack. In a maneuver reminiscent of an action movie scene or stunt-flying airshow, the pilot would then swoop down and use a hook on the wing of the plane to snag the loop on the sack.

A clothesline-like pulley apparatus would then pull the sack into the body of the plane.

And how were sacks of mail delivered to their destinations? The were simply dropped out of the plane onto the runway, of course.

(Fragile items, one assumes, were not shipped by this method.)

Exciting as it may have been to watch, this service was being abandoned in favor of progress - when the new Lancaster Airport was fully opened in the coming months, a combination passenger/cargo/mail service would be taking the place of the former "flying mailman."

Those flights, naturally, would actually land at the airport.

In the headlines:

China's Red chief demands end to U.S. pacts

High crime rate blamed on parents

Church frowns on non-fermented communion wine

Check out the Jan. 14, 1949, Lancaster New Era here.

100 years ago

In January 1924, a Lancaster man saved himself from a collision between the truck he was driving and an oncoming train by leaping from the moving vehicle at the last moment.

Grover Smithson was approaching the Water Street railroad crossing, near Lemon Street, and didn't realize the 8:55 a.m. train from Harrisburg was bearing down on him.

Realizing it was too late to avoid a collision, he instead swerved hard to the side and jumped clear of the truck, which was "reduced to splinters" by the locomotive.

Smithson, meanwhile, escaped without a scratch.

In the headlines:

Armed bandits steal whiskey worth big sum

Deluge floods streets in Brooklyn

Check out the Jan. 14, 1924, Lancaster Intelligencer here.

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