Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pennsylvania Road Trip - USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame

Continuing along on our Pennsylvania road trip, and following our factory tours at Martin's Potato Chips (read about it here) and the Harley Davidson Manufacturing Plant (catch up on that tour here), we made another stop in the York area to visit the York Barbell Museum/USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame.

Now I am no expert on the business of weightlifting, so I had no specific compelling reason to want to look at weightlifting memorabilia.  Yes, I've done some Les Mills Body Pump (barbell) workouts over the years, and even a few kettle bell sessions, too.  But, nothing more serious than that.  Son Caleb is the strength trainer in our household.  He does the Beachbody company's "Body Beast" workout each day, mostly using a variety of hand weights.

My husband/driver/strong man
We stopped simply because we were in the area, and it was something of interest to see.  The museum, hall of fame, and visitors' store are located in a building adjacent to the actual York Barbell manufacturing facility.

The Weightlifting Hall of Fame is a diverse history of the strength sports - their evolution from mythology to the early Olympic games, and the 19th to 21st century amateur and professional strongmen to the current specialized sports of Olympic weightlifting, power lifting, and bodybuilding.

Let's just sum that up by saying we looked at a lot of pictures of very muscled and nearly naked men.  (And only a few women, who didn't look anything like any women I know.)

We started the tour in the massive lobby of the museum, and hanging above us was a unique mobile made of a collection of barbells.  Not used to seeing swirling weights overhead, I felt the need to walk a wide circle around the perimeter of the room.

Also in the lobby, and flanking statues of Bob Hoffman, the "Father of World Weightlifting" and Steve Stanko, a former Mr. America and Mr. Universe, are displays of old globe-style barbells and dumbbells.

On the wall in this lobby hangs a life-sized photograph of several champion weightlifters training in a gym above the original Broad Street barbell factory in the city of York.  Three of America's Olympic weightlifting heroes from the 1950's are shown.  Dave Sheppard is holding the barbell, behind him is Clyde Emrich, and seated on the right on the small bench is Tommy Kono, possibly the greatest weightlifter America ever produced.  Kono's bench sits there in front of the picture.

 Nearby, a small auditorium with a stage has been used over the years to host various weightlifting contests.

Continuing down the corridor, we examined a series of eighteen drawings representing feats of strength from Milo of Crotona to York Barbell's own John Grimek.

The remainder of the displays in the museum were photos, memorabilia, awards, news coverage, and records from Olympic weightlifting, power lifting, and bodybuilding events over the last two centuries. There was a lot to look at, and one could spend hours and hours reading and looking at it all.

In the awards area, this old weightlifter's prize belt was highlighted.  

The history of women's participation in the sport of Olympic weightlifting in the United States is depicted in one area of the exhibit.  I was impressed at the improvements women have made over the years in the amounts of weights lifted due to different and always improving training methods.

One wall of women's records
I suppose any display involving strength wouldn't be complete if it didn't include something relative to the famous movie star/politician - Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Not to be disappointed, towards the end of the display area, we came upon this collage showing a variety of photos of him throughout his weightlifting and movie career.

The Weightlifting Hall of Fame encompasses approximately 8000 square feet of space, and is chock full of inspirational records of amazing human accomplishments.  I left with a sense of awe of the incredible capabilities of the human body, and the amazing determination some athletes have to reach their full potentials.  

As for me, a little kickboxing'll do it for me.  Someday, that is.  

Today, though, the extent of my weightlifting was just lugging this little camera around.


  1. Nice tour:) Until reading this I am not sure I would have thought to stop at this kind of museum.

  2. I guess there must be a hall of fame for anything! Who'd of thunk? ;c)

  3. Is my memory correct? Didn't your son lift weights? I bet he would have enjoyed that tour.