National Apple Museum and the Allure of Apples

A fairly close up view of four apples still on the apple tree, surrounded by green leaves. Behind the tree is blue sky.

In scenic Adams County PA, the National Apple Museum shares the rich history of the apple and fruit tree industry. This beautifully restored barn, brimming with exhibits, showcases the journey of apple farming in the region. The museum details the transformation of farming in Adams County—from a generalist approach to a specialized focus on apples. The museum is loaded with all kinds of displays and relics. There are no “hands-on” high-tech displays here, this is an old-fashioned museum that strives to tell the story of apples in an entertaining way. 

As you explore exhibits of early fruit picking, packing and shipping tools, techniques and machines, you’ll learn how industry has shaped farming methods. Detailed exhibits discuss pest management, bee populations and how these insects are vital to farming and the evolution of commercial fruit processing equipment. Among the museum’s highlights are the meticulously recreated 1880s farm kitchen and general store, painting a vivid picture of life in the heart of apple country. There’s a certain feeling of poking around grandma’s attic and grandpa’s barn as you tour this museum!

Can’t get enough of dem apples? Check out the National Apple Harvest Festival!

About the Exhibits

The museum’s collections offer a detailed look into the apple industry. It houses farming tools, apple peelers, fruit labels, and various apple-related items that reflect the industry’s history and development. Visitors can learn about the fruit and see machines that core, peel, and grade apples, showcasing the changes in the industry over time. I was fascinated to learn that there are apple tree farms growing the apple trees that apple orchards need to plant to grow the apples.

Founded by the Biglerville Historical and Preservation Society in 1981, the dream of the National Apple Museum was brought to life by the generous donation of Mr. Clair Ditzler. A local businessman, farmer and society founding member, Ditzler gifted acres of his farm, including his barn, as the future home of the museum. With dedication, he spearheaded the barn’s transformation into a museum celebrating Adams County’s apple heritage. In 1990, the barn’s doors opened to the public, revealing a treasure trove of apple and local history. The people at the museum are all volunteers who have a strong knowledge base. 

Beyond the tales and explanations of the past, the museum carries a contemporary message: “Buy local!” The museum emphasizes the authenticity and safety of locally grown apples over many grocery store fruit, which might hail from places with different safety standards. The National Apple Museum reminds us of the importance of local farming and the taste and quality it offers.

Know Before You Go

Getting there: 154 W Hanover St, Biglerville, PA
Hours: hours vary by season, check the website below
Website: National Apple Museum

Gettysburg has so much to see and do. Check out the articles below to find more great daytrip destinations: