In preparation for Harrison Ford’s last outing as the Man in the Hat in the upcoming Dial of Destiny movie opening on June 30, 2023, here is a list of Indiana Jonesesque places you can visit here in the Susquehanna Valley. So coil your bullwhip and grab your fedora because X marks the spot on these local adventures!
Find the Ark of the Covenant – Governor Dick
You might be surprised to learn that the Ark of the Covenant isn’t at a stone chapel in Ethiopia or tucked into a nondescript crate at Area 51. It is in the most unlikely of places—Clarence Schock Memorial Park at Governor Dick in southern Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. You can find it after a short .7 miles along the White Diamond trail from the parking lot at the environmental center. Click here to begin the Governor Dick Adventure: Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth – Lititz Spring Park
Take your own leap of faith from the lion’s head at beautiful Lititz Springs Park.
This lion’s head has been a prominent icon at Lititz Springs Park since 1857 when Lititz native Julius Augustus Beck carved it. He strategically placed it to the right of the Lititz Run springhead.
Beck choose the world-famous “Lion of Lucerne” in Switzerland as his model. He planned to incise the head, the shoulders, and the forepaws of the mighty beast from the exposed stone. However, because the extreme hardness of the rock ruined his chisels, he abandoned his original plans creating only the face and mane. The Lititz Spring Park is located at 24 N Broad St, Lititz, PA 17543. It is open from dawn to dusk. Click here to read more about Lititz’s famous lion.
Jock! Start the engine! – Conestoga River
There won’t be any Hovitos chasing you or a seaplane to swim to, but you can still channel your inner Indiana Jones as you use this rope swing to plunge into the Conestoga River north of Safe Harbor along Conestoga Boulevard. According to Todd Roy, president of the Conestoga River Club, there is a ten-foot-deep hole in the river where you release into the water. Jock! Start the engine!
Here are the rope swing’s GPS coordinates 39.941819, -76.384858.
Venice Boat Chase – Susquehanna River Discovery Boat Tours
A slightly more peaceful and less dangerous ride than Indiana Jones’ in the waterways of Venice awaits you on the Chief Uncas, Susquehanna National Heritage Area‘s 55 feet long, 111-year-old electric boat. Built in 1912 (so it’s oldest enough for Indiana Jones to have ridden in) for beer tycoon Adolphus Busch, this electric-powered pleasure craft cruised Otsego Lake, the headwaters of the Susquehanna, for over a century. Today she almost silently motors the Susquehanna 400 miles downstream as the flagship for SNHA’s River Discovery Tours. Tours depart from the Zimmerman Center Memorial Day through mid-October. Advance reservations are recommended. Click here for more information and how to book your voyage.
Mine Cart Chase – Howard Tunnel Tour in York County
Hit the rails like Indy, Short Round, and Willie Scott did in the mines beneath the Temple of Doom as you peddle along the Northern Central Railway on a rail bike with American Rail Bike Adventures. The highlight of the trip is the 1838 Howard Tunnel.
The seven-mile round trip will take you through scenic farmland, pass by colonial stone houses, over river bridges, and through villages that have not changed since the 1700s. The highlight of this excursion is the Howard Tunnel. Built in 1838, it is the oldest continuously operating railroad tunnel in the United States. It was dug by hand drills and black powder to get through 300 feet of solid rock, then lined with brick.
In the days leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg, Union soldiers set out to defend the tunnel. They dug rifle pits below and hauled a cannon to the top. The Confederates eventually came through and burned many of the railroad bridges along the line but didn’t damage the tunnel. Abraham Lincoln’s coffin passed through on his way to Springfield, Illinois, after his death in 1865.
The Idol Temple – Wind Cave, Pequea
In 1936, Indiana Jones entered the Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors in search of the prized golden fertility idol. This dark, well-protected cave had many defenses, including spears, darts, a large boulder, and should the idol be disturbed, the collapse of the temple itself. Explore your own Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors cave when you visit Pequea, Pa, as you enter the aptly named Wind Cave. The good news is jagged underground has considerably fewer booby traps.
Visit on even the hottest summer day, and you will probably need a jacket. While Pennsylvania caves typically range in temperature from 50° to 57°F, Wind Cave registers with refrigerator-like coldness at 38°F. In addition to the cave’s chill, you will also be guaranteed a strong cold breeze at the cave’s mouth. It is this phenomenon that gives Wind Cave its name.
But what truly makes this location unique is its geology. Wind Cave is not a normal cave and is nothing like Crystal Cave, Laurel Cave, or Indian Echo Caverns. For starters, these caves—like most in the United States—are “solutional.” This means they are formed when soluble rocks like limestone are slowly dissolved or eroded by rainwater’s natural acidity. Over time as the water seeps through the ground, it enlarges cracks into caves.
Wind Cave, on the other hand, is a tectonic (also known as a fault) cave. But in this case, tectonic doesn’t mean caused by an earthquake. Tectonic caves are typically created when massive rocks on the sides of ridges or mountains slip due to gravity’s pull and then separate along vertical fractures. That’s exactly how Wind Cave was formed many thousands of years ago as the walls of the Susquehanna Gorge settled. This event formed fissures inside the mountain by splitting apart the walls of three or more systems of nearly vertical joints.
There are no stalactites, stalagmites, or golden temple idols in Wind Cave. Speleothems form from dripping water in solutional caves and are typically absent in tectonic caves. Due to the lack of flowing water, the walls and ceilings in Wind Cave are rough. Click here to read more about Wind Cave and where to find it.
The Rope Bridge – Martic Forge Trestle
Like Indiana Jones on the rope bridge at the end of The Temple of Doom, you will be soaring 146 feet above the Pequea Creek from atop the 634-foot-long Martic Forge Trestle. Unlike our intrepid hero, you won’t be able to cut the bridge in half with a machete to stop the approaching Thuggee. In fact, the structure is basically indestructible after being rebuilt entirely from concrete and steel after the previous rail trail bridge was destroyed by an arsonist on Thursday, April 12, 2018.
But like a literal phoenix rising from the ashes, the 1905 structure has been returned to its former glory and is once again ferrying passengers between Conestoga and Martic Townships. Its eastern support trestle once straddled a trolley line that rambled along the creek, shuttling passengers and packages between the resort town of Pequea and Millersville, PA.
As you walk after the bridge, the once bustling iron town of the aptly named Martic Forge can be seen. In the early 1750s, ironworks manufactured metal farm implements, domestic goods, and, during the Revolutionary War, cannons for George Washington’s Continental Army. Click here to read more about the Martic Forge Trestle and its exact location.
Here are the GPS coordinates 39.907982, -76.328359 for the trestle.
Rafting the Pindari River – Tubing at Sickman’s Mill
In the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones, Willie Scott, and Short Round raft down the Pindari River, a tributary of the Yamuna River, after using an inflatable raft to escape from a crashing airplane. When the rough water eventually calmed, the trio realized they were in India.
While considerably less aggressive than the Pindari River, check out tubing at Sickman’s Mill. In exchange for the lack of whitewater, you get a chill vibe at Jimmy’s Place with tasty beverages and live music, and a feeling you have traveled back in time while floating down the Pequea.
Fun Fact: Pequea is a Shawnee word meaning “dust” or “ashes,” which is a good description of the flowing water. This group of Native Americans once lived near the mouth of the creek about 6.5 miles downstream from the mill.
Sickman’s is a monument to a forgotten time. A mill has existed in this location since 1752. The current 4.5-story stone structure dates back to 1862. Over the decades, it has had many owners and uses, including a flour mill, grist mill, oil mill (think cooking oil, not motor oil), sawmill, and distillery. Click here to read the history of Sickman’s Mill.
It sits in an area known to local “old timers” as Horse Hollow. Legend states that the name dates back to the Civil War when the Union Army tethered their horses here in June of 1863 as Confederate forces threatened to pour across the Susquehanna River. Had the rebels proved successful, the retreating Union troops planned to retrieve their freshly rested mounts and flee.
However, evidence of the valley’s naming predates the Civil War, possibly to this tragic tale. On December 1, 1845, Frederick Pfeifer was driving to the mill in his wagon loaded with wheat on an icy, wintry day. As he approached the hill into the valley, Pfeifer found his team of horses slipping toward the cliff, unable to make the turn. Pfeifer attempted to jump from the wagon but got caught in the rigging and was dragged over the high bank with deadly results. Click here to read more about Horse Hollow.
Tubing down the Pequea is a memorable experience for the armchair explorer as you pass multi-tiered moss-covered stone ruins that were once part of a magnetite ore mine dating back to the 1880s. The Pequea Magnetic Iron Mining Company—later known as the Pequea Iron Company—was the first corporation to attempt to concentrate magnetic iron ore in the United States. Click here to read more about the Pequea Magnetic Iron Mining Company.
Tubing at Sickman’s Mill runs through the summer. Click here for more information on tubing at Sickman’s Mill.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny opens on June 30, 2023. What places would you add to the list? Comment below.
The idea for this article came from Erick Hershey’s CountryConjuring Instagram Reel. He re-created several shot-for-shot scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark using local filming locations. Be sure to give him a follow and watch his entertaining video below.
Local History Awaits!
Harrison Ford to wear 1941 Hamilton Watch in upcoming Indiana Jones movie.
In the upcoming Indiana Jones 5 movie, Harrison Ford may be wearing a 1941 Hamilton Boulton watch. Established in 1892, Hamilton Watch Company called Lancaster, Pennsylvania home for its first 111 years and was the site of its original factory.
Indy’s wristwatch with a gold-filled case would have been manufactured here in Lancaster, PA. Hamilton has a history of innovation, creating the Ventura, the world’s first electrical watch powered by a battery in 1957, and the Pulsar, the world’s first LED digital watch in 1970.
As the upcoming film has a strong connection to time and possibly even time travel, it seems only fitting that the man in the hat would add a wristwatch to his wardrobe for the first time. Click here to read more.
The Indiana Jones Easter egg no one noticed for nearly 40 years.
It should come as no surprise that I’m a BIG Indiana Jones fan. I recently watched the 1954 film Secret of the Incas, which supposedly inspired the fedora-wearing franchise, when I noticed what I believe is a never before recorded Indiana Jones Easter egg. What do you think?
Tired of waiting for Indiana Jones 5? Then check out Uncharted’s Nathan Drake.
Are you tired of waiting for Indiana Jones 5? Then check out Andy Gilleand’s Uncharted YouTube movies to fill that fedora-sized hole in your heart. Click here to start your adventure.
1864 Map of the City of Lancaster, Pennsylvania$21.99 – $25.99