George William Bartels, born on January 19, 1898 and passed away on January 26, 1964, was the fifth general manager of Hersheypark. He served as general manager from 1949 until 1963, succeeding John Sollenberger. Bartels started his career with Hershey Estates (the original name of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company) shortly after graduating as valedictorian of Hummelstown High School.
George Bartels was the son of Harry and Cora Krill Bartels. His father was a watchman for the Reading Company, and was born in Annville, Pennsylvania, in 1872. Bartels grandparents, George B. Bartels and Christiana Bartels, and uncle of the same name, George W. Bartels, emigrated to Annville, in 1869, from the Province of Hanover, Kingdom of Prussia.
Bartels was born in Annville, and his family lived there into the early 1910s. His family moved to Main Street, Hummelstown sometime in his teens. Bartels attended Hummelstown High School and graduated as school valedictorian. He was also a main participant in a senior play.
Bartels married and had several children. He lived in Hummelstown, and then on Areba Street and East Derry Road in Hershey.
Bartels served as a Derry Township auditor from c.1927 until c.1933. He was involved with the Pennsylvania Young Republicans in the 1930s, and a committee member of the Pennsylvania Republican Party in the 1940s.
Bartels was a member of the Hershey Rotary Club, appointed in August 1943 as a member of the club’s picnic committee.
Career with Hershey
He found a job with the Hershey Chocolate Company in the company’s mail room. He worked his way from that job to an accounting job as a bookkeeper. His job shifted to Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company when it was established in 1927 as Hershey Estates.
In the 1930s, Bartels managed the Hershey Community Theatre, and was later promoted to assistant manager of Hershey Sports Arena. He served in this role well into the 1940s. When Hersheypark general manager John Sollenberger was promoted to president of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts in 1949, George Bartels was promoted to general manager of Hersheypark.
During his time as general manager, Hersheypark added several major rides – the Twin Ferris Wheels in 1950, Turnpike in 1960, Dry Gulch Railroad in 1961, Starship America in 1962, and The Lost River in 1963. Hersheypark added several kiddie rides: Miniature Train in 1952, Kiddie Turnpike in 1955, a second Kiddie Ferris Wheel in 1959, Minty Bees and Dizzy Drums in 1961, and Outboard Motor Boats in 1962.
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