Hershey: The Man and His Park

By | Apr 24, 2012

In 1903 Milton Hershey broke ground for his chocolate factory on a 1200 acre parcel of ground located in the cornfields of Pennsylvania about 10 miles from Harrisburg. Around his factory he also planned a town. The town now bares his name, Hershey.

Hershey planned more than just a place to live and work for his employees. He also planned for an recreation area. On April 24, 1908 he opened a theme park that allowed his employees to picnic, boat and watch Vaudeville and other theatre productions from the bandstands and pavilion. This was the opening of Hershey Park.

The factory and his theme park continued to grow and by 1915, the town had a population close to 1000 with more than 100,000 visitors coming to see the Hershey Park’s attractions. These attractions included a merry-go-round that was opened on July 4, 1908, a carousel added in 1912 and a train.

In 1927 Hershey split his holdings into three companies, Hershey Chocolate Corporation, Hershey Corporation, and Hershey Estates. Hershey Park was park of the company called Hershey Estates and in 1980 was renamed to Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, INC. Hershey Park is part of the Hershey Entertainment Group division of that company.

During the Depression of the 1930’s, Milton Hershey used his money to his to people in the area employed with construction of buildings for the town. Many of the towns structures were built during this period. This helped turned the town into a tourist attraction.

Had it not been for a strange course of fate, Milton Hershey may have died in 1912. He and his wife were scheduled to return to the United States from England. His wife, Catherine or “Kitty”, fell ill and cancelled his reservations on the maiden voyage of the Titanic.


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