Unique is a word that gets tossed around pretty freely these days in promotional commentary, but there are very few truly unique destinations. Hershey Resort has a fine lineup of quality amenities, but it is the social underpinnings of the resort’s history that make it truly unique.
Born Sept. 13, 1857, Milton S. Hershey was the only surviving child of Fannie and Henry Hershey. Frequent family moves interrupted his schooling and left him with a limited education—he only completed the fourth grade.
Following an apprenticeship with a Lancaster candy maker, he established his own candy-making business in Philadelphia. That initial effort failed, as did his next two attempts. Returning to Lancaster in 1883, Hershey established the Lancaster Caramel Co., which quickly became a success and established him as a candy maker, setting the stage for future accomplishments.
He later sold the company to concentrate exclusively on his chocolate business. In 1903, he moved to Derry Church to build a new chocolate factory.
With Hershey’s success came a profound sense of social responsibility and benevolence. His ambitions were not limited to producing chocolate; he envisioned a complete new community around his factory. He built a model town for his employees that included comfortable homes, public transportation, and a public school system. Concerned about providing adequate recreation and diversions, he built a park that opened in 1907 and expanded rapidly over the years. Amusement rides, a swimming pool, and a ballroom were added. Soon, trolley cars and trains were bringing thousands of out-of-town visitors to the park.
Many of the town’s impressive structures were built during the Great Depression as part of Milton Hershey’s “Great Building Campaign” to provide jobs. It was then that monumental structures such as The Hotel Hershey, community center, theater, sports arena, and stadium were constructed.
By 1930 golf became part of the recreational landscape when the Hershey Country Cub opened for play. Designed by Maurice McCarthy, it starts and finishes in front of Mr. Hershey’s High Point Mansion. This became known as the West Course in 1969 when the George Fazio-designed East Course opened. The West Course has a rich history itself hosting the 1940 PGA Championship and for many years the LPGA’s Lady Keystone Open. The Easy has recently been the site for a men’s Nationwide Tour Event.
If that weren’t enough the resort now boasts the Hershey Links, an 18-hole modern course that has been on Golfweek’s “Best Courses You Can Play” for the last two years and the Spring Creek Golf Course a none-hole layout geared for younger golfers.