“There’s something about encountering this landscape at a slower speed,” says Marc Crusemire, President at Strasburg Scooters. “It’s just a completely different way of seeing things. You get to see the surroundings; you get to smell it; and with some of our tour stops, you also get to taste it.”
Crusemire has vast experience in viewing the Lancaster and Bird-in-Hand communities from transport that is not a traditional car.
He’s a motorcyclist, which may have put the idea of two-wheeled tourism into his head. And he’s got a sharp destination-marketing background, honed by a former career as an advertising director for a print publication.
After extensive research, he started his own scooter-rental firm. But in the business’ fledgling months, he realized something: Sitting around waiting for customers to return their vehicles made for a rather boring career.
He then took his knowledge of the Lancaster area, established a few itineraries, and started guiding tourists on scooters.
That was 2012. And he hasn’t glanced in his career rear-view mirror since.
The Fleet and Its Destinations
He now has a fleet of scooters. He purposefully keeps their size under state law requirements for a driver’s license to ensure most customers can drive them.
And to expand his market to tourists who either don’t trust themselves on a scooter or who want to share the experience side-by-side with a friend or mate, he invested in small “scoot coupes.” Looking something like a souped-up bumper car, these zippy vehicles use an undercarriage frame that requires no balancing whatsoever from operators.
He has since overlaid the excursions with themed itineraries that include:
- The Amish countryside
- Covered bridges, with one beautiful expedition setting forth in the morning of Thanksgiving Day
- Ice cream
- Country roads
- Sunset departures
- Spooky Scoot, its current Halloween-themed excursion (various dates through Oct. 30)
- Scootin’ with Santa, a set of Dec. weekend rides that dashes around Strasburg with St. Nick
If none of them appeal to riders (but really, who could pass on ice cream?), Crusemire will work up custom itineraries.
His connection to the community enables him to deepen the typical tour experience.
“We have an Amish family that lets us use their home and their property to give tours. And a few days a week, an Amish woman will sit down with our guests and answer any question tossed to her,” he explained.
COVID and Shouldering On
The COVID lockdowns were difficult for Strasburg Scooters; Crusemire had hoped that its outdoor setting might keep it open, but state guidelines forbade it nonetheless.
The fleet of scooters and scoot coupes remained quietly parked for eight weeks straight.
In the aftermath, business revved up again. But since, Crusemire has been battling another foe: supply chain delays.
Like millions of commercial enterprises nationwide, he’s shouldering on.
And customers are still enjoying their experiences.
“It’s something that is unique to the area,” Crusemire stated, describing the experience he offers. “We get people up close and personal with Lancaster County.”
A Second Draw for Unique Transportation Buffs
This family business first opened its doors in spring of 1970, after a dare landed Donald M. Denlinger with 19 25-ton cabooses and nowhere to put them.
In a span of four months, Denlinger moved the cabooses, including a P-70-ton coach car, onto the current property. He then converted them into hotel rooms and a full-service restaurant.
In 2016, Kat and Tyler Prickett purchased the entire nine-acre property.
Over the next six years, they renovated nearly every room, refreshing some and completely gutting others. They also expanded the one-car restaurant to two, boosting capacity to 175 seats while adding outdoor decks, a refreshed landscape (with a bridge), and bar.
The site continues to draw train buffs (both young and old) from across the country. Guests may choose to stay in one of 38 cabooses, a mail car, a baggage car, or the “Shady Rest Motel,” a recreation of a vintage rail-line accommodation.
Larger families will appreciate the vision the Pricketts applied to the renovation; some rooms can hold as many as six guests, whereas most traditional hotels top out at four.
In addition to the adventure of full immersion in a retro railroad environment (the onsite theming fits well with the nearby Strasburg Rail Road), the Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant also provides a petting zoo, a viewing tower, and a gift shop.
Coming for 2023 is the Barn at Paradise Station, a unique wedding and event facility in a beautifully restored 1800s bank barn.
More information on both these unique tourism opportunities is available at Discover Lancaster.
Get a Scooter’s eye view tour of Lancaster in this short video.