Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Dec 7th.
25 Years Ago
December 7, 1996 – Saturday
“Price of Christmas Trees To Grow”
A surplus of Christmas trees that lowered prices has ended, and customers can expect to pay a few dollars more for their trees in the future.
Local tree growers say tree prices are expected to inch slightly upward over the next five years. Douglas and Fraser firs, among the most popular, could be $2 more a tree.
“I don’t see any glut at all,” said Alex Kessel, owner of Seven Springs Tree Farm, Orrtanna. “There’s a lot of bad trees out there but not a glut of quality trees.”
During the past 10 years, a glut of Christmas trees has made them cheaper but has hurt farmers’ profits. Now that more people are leaving the business the market should be tighter.
A surplus of trees should continue to work to the consumer’s advantage this year, industry officials say. The average cost for a 6-foot tree in Pennsylvania is between $25 and $45, only slightly higher than last year.
“The prices have actually gone up this year for the first time in a long time,” said Larry Kuhns, a Penn State professor of ornamental horticulture.
Adding to the glut: Growers in the Northwest had been shipping millions of trees to the Northeast. Many of those trees dropped their needles and turned brown.
“The glut pretty much over” said Melissa Nelson of the state tree grower’s association. “There were a lot of cheap trees that were dumped on the market.”
Pennsylvania is the nation’s fifth largest Christmas tree producer with 3.5 million trees harvested annually. The state’s growers brought in $25 million last year. There are 42 million trees growing on 44,000 acres in Pennsylvania. About 1,000 growers provide more than 10,000 jobs.
Kessel has been growing trees on 50 acres of land on Old Route 30 since 1979. He expects to cut about 5,000 of bis 48,000 trees this year.
Customers can walk on his farm and choose their trees. Kesser has machines that shake needles from the trees and strap trees and strap them for transporting.
“We try to sell a tradition here, not just a Christmas tree,” Kessel said.
Linda Heckman, co-owner of Heck Pennman Tree Farm on Nyesville Road, has only been in the business for three years, and hasn’t seen a glut.
“We’ve had an awful lot of orders so far,” Heckman said. “Our sales have been increasing every year.”
Her farm provides wagon rides and drinks to customers who are cutting their own trees. Customers can also return their trees in January for free recycling.
“That part of the industry (cut-your-own) has grown in leaps and bounds in the last two years,” said Kuhns, the Penn State professor who also grows trees.
Heckman said tree farming is a labor-intensive business. Weed control, fertilizing and sheering the trees consume all of her and, her husband Gary’s free time. Trees take as long as 15 years to mature.
“It takes a lot of intensive care to make them look like Christmas trees and to make them look full,” Heckman said.
50 Years Ago
December 7, 1971 – Tuesday
“Nina Flohr Crowned Bethel Honored Queen”
JOB’S DAUGHTERS’ OFFICERS: Installed as officers Saturday evening of the International Order of Job’s Daughters Bethel No. 16, Chambersburg, were, kneeling, Nina Flohr, honored queen; standing, from left Kathy Moul, senior princess; Crystal Fritz, guide; Barbara Rajtik, marshal, and Sherry Ommert, junior princess. A social hour fol-lowed the installation ceremony, attended by 200.
100 Years ago
December 7, 1921 – Wednesday
“Empty stocking campaign further organized by Jr. C.C.”
Chambersburg – At the regular meeting of the Jr. Civic Club held last night definite and final arrangement were made for the carrying on of the Empty Stocking Christmas work which will be begin immediately. Miss Amelie Brereton in charge. The gifts will be distributed Dec. 24 during the afternoon and evening.
Another afternoon dance will be held this Saturday in the Trust Building to raise money for the empty stockings. The managers of this dance will be Misses Rozelle and Margaret Bert.
Mrs. W. Chambers Mehaffey and Miss Margaret K. Ruthrauff were appointed chairman for a dance to be held the Thursday following Christmas, Dec. 29. This will be an evening affair and formal.