American manufacturers of all stripes offer the factory tour — from motorcycle makers to breweries — but rarely do you get to experience two pieces of Americana in one trip.
If you visit Bradford, you can visit iconic companies Zippo, www.zippo.com, maker of the popular mechanical lighters, and W.R Case & Sons Cutlery, www.wrcase.com, manufacturer of dozens of styles of folding and fixed blade knives.
Case shares a museum with its parent company, Zippo, featuring the companies’ histories, rare lighters and knives, as well as other displays and exhibits, www.zippo.com/about/article.aspx?id=1584
Part of what makes lighters and folding knives so intriguing is that they’re small objects anyone can put in their pocket. President Dwight Eisenhower was an avid collector of Case knives. Astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young carried them into space. Case also makes pocket knives for the Boy Scouts of America and the military.
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Zippo lighters have been the epitome of “cool” for ages. From military gear to everyday use, the lighter is instantly recognized around the world and people even refer to generic mechanical lighters as “Zippos.”
Although Bradford highlights an interesting pair of brands representing America’s rich industrial history, the city is situated in one of the largest rural areas of the state, offering a bounty of mountain adventures.
“Allegheny National Forest is the largest attraction,” said Linda Devlin, executive director of the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, http://visitanf.com, which handles tourism promotion for McKean, Elk and Potter counties.
The national forest has 517,000 acres of woodlands and 600 miles of trails leading to scenic overlooks, through tree groves that blot out the sun and along the Allegheny Reservoir, including the North Country Scenic Trail, the nation’s newest long-distance hiking trail running from New York to North Dakota, www.nps.gov/noco/index.htm. The reservoir offers more than 100 miles of uninterrupted shoreline.
If you like to combine natural beauty and human ingenuity, maybe you should visit Klein Aircraft Services, http://visitanf.com/vintage-biplane-rides, for a vintage biplane tour of the area, or maybe you want to see it while falling out of a plane? Freefall OZ Skydiving Center, www.freefallozskydiving.com, has you covered.
“There’s no set schedule,” Devlin said. “Here, there are so many choices, you can be as busy or as lazy as you want.”
Did you know ...
• It takes 125 pairs of hands to make just one Case knife.
• Zippo lighters have been featured in more than 1,500 movies, stage plays and television shows.
• When Kinzua Viaduct, a railroad trestle bridge, was completed in 1882, it weighed 3.1 million pounds. It weighed more than double that when rebuilt in 1900. Freight traffic was discontinued in 1959 and a tornado destroyed the bridge in 2003. The remaining structure was renovated as a scenic overlook.
While you’re there ...
17th Annual Pennswoods Jeep Jamboree USA, Bradford, jeepjamboreeusa.com/event-detail/69
Art in the Wilds, Kane, www.artinthewilds.org.
•July 11 and 12:
Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit fishing competition, Bradford, masterswalleyecircuit.com/tournaments/schedule
Mount Jewett Swedish Festival, www.facebook.com/pages/Mount-Jewett-Swedish-Festival/211598535535867
McKean County Fair, Smethport, www.mckeancountyfair.net