Allentown, Pennsylvania, has a number of fine attractions. One of the better ones, the Liberty Bell Museum, is small but a 5 Compass must-see. It tells the story of a little known event in American history.
Church bells were the Internet of the 18th century. Ringing them alerted people several miles away of danger. The British were heading to Philadelphia, a town they were destined to occupy during the American Revolution. They were short of ammunition and locals feared they would melt down their biggest church bells to make cannons. It seemed necessary to move 11 of them, including the famous Liberty Bell, to a safe location and hide them. The village of Northhampton Towne, now Allentown, was chosen, and the bells were put in farm wagons for the 3 day trek to this settlement 50 miles from Philadelphia. The exact reason why this town was chosen is not known. The 11 bells were successfully hidden under the floorboards of a church there for 9 months, and their storage place wasn’t known until 1962. The Liberty Bell was especially important because it could be heard 40 miles away when rung. Stephanie, our host at the Liberty Bell Museum, used a clapper to demonstrate its sound and range.
Although the exact place where the bells were hidden wasn’t known until 1962, 54 replicas of the Liberty Bell were cast in 1950 to help finance the Korean War. Every state received one. Missouri was given 2 because Harry Truman was President then, and the second bell was eventually put into his Presidential Library in Independence, MO. France has one too because that is where they were cast. The bell in the Liberty Bell Museum is Pennsylvania’s official replica.
There is more to see in the Liberty Bell Museum in Allentown than this replica. My favorite was the 46-foot-long oil painting done by Wilmer Behler of the moving of the bell. There is also a copy of the farm wagon used to move the bells, historic photos in a hallway, and a lot more. I also enjoyed seeing Zion thanks to Stephanie. Zion’s Church is now on the location under which the bells were stored, but it dates from 1886. The original house of worship on this spot was a small log church built in 1762.
It’s a treat to see this replica bell and hear it ring. Visiting this museum is also a bargain at only $2 per person.