Located on a former 18th century farmstead, The Berks County Heritage Center is a historical complex that interprets important eras of Berks County’s cultural and transportation history.
The Heritage Center’s two onsite museums, The Gruber Wagon Works and C. Howard Heister Canal Center, will be offering free admission on the third Saturday of every month May through October.
• C. Howard Hiester Canal Center
Before railroads crisscrossed the country carrying travelers and goods, canals were dug by men with picks, shovels and wheelbarrows to create a system of “water highways” that aided America’s industrial revolution. Discover the significance Berks County had during the national canal era with a visit to the C. Howard Hiester Canal Center that highlights the stories of the Union Canal and Schuylkill Navigation System. The Canal Center is self-guided and open 10 a.m. to 4 p..m. on every third Saturday.
Film and Museum orientation every half hour. Experience what everyday life was like for canal workers, operators and their families. Learn how canals were built and how they worked. View one of the largest collections of original canal era materials in the Nation.
• Gruber Wagon Works
The Gruber Wagon Works, also located at the Berks County Heritage Center, will be open for guided tours on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with tours departing from the Reeser Farm House. Discover the history and evolution of local transportation.
The Gruber Wagon Works is a National Historic Landmark, recognized as one of the most complete surviving examples of rural manufacturing in the United States. Tours depart from the Heritage Center’s Information Center located in the Stone Farm House. The Gruber family built wagons for farm, commercial and industrial use through the 1950s. Restored to the year 1915, the Wagon Works holds nearly 19,000 original artifacts.
• While you are the Berks County Heritage Center, make sure you take a self-guided tour of the Center’s additional features which include a Salad and Herb Garden, Melcher’s Grist Mill, Wertz’s “Red” Bridge, and the Deppen Cemetery. For kids, get your Junior Tour Guide button after completing the activity guide. Take your photo with The Distelfink, the stylized bird that appears frequently on Pennsylvania Dutch or German art. Visit the Bicentennial Eagle Memorial and Fraternal Order of Police Memorial.
The Berks County Heritage Center is open May 1 through the last Sunday in October. Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
This program is presented by the Berks County Parks and Recreation Department. For more information, call 610-374-8839, visit www.countyofberks.com/parks or find us on Facebook and Instagram under Berks County Parks and Recreation. The Berks County Heritage Center is located at 1102 Red Bridge Road, Reading.