World’s first corn maze was in Annville

2 min read1,591 views and 906 shares Posted August 20, 2020

Navigating corn mazes is a favorite fall activity for many families across the country, and it originated here in Lebanon County.

The very first corn maze, called the Amazing Maize Maze, was built in 1993 at Lebanon Valley College (LVC) in Annville.

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The maze was invented by then-LVC student Joanne Marx and alumnus Don Frantz, who later developed a business designing corn mazes

Marx and Frantz were inspired by the hedge mazes found in many European countries. Frantz worked with Adrian Fisher of Minotaur Designs in England to develop the design for the corn maze. At that point in time, Fisher had designed over 70 mazes in several different countries.

Joanne Marx holds up a gridded map of the maze. (Associated Press in August 2, 1993 York Daily Record, via Newspapers.com)
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The maze was invented as a way to both help farmers recover from having crops ruined by flooding and increase student involvement in campus events, and it was successful in both these goals. Over 6,000 people, many of whom were LVC students, visited it on its opening weekend alone, which raised a total of $27,000 for the Red Cross.

The maze was built over the course of four weeks, with the help of LVC students, faculty and staff, and some of Frantz’s family and friends. The helpers, especially Marx and LVC Director of Student Activities Jen Evans, pulled all of the corn by hand, working in 25-foot square sections.

The final product had 1.92 miles of maze pathway covering three acres of a field adjacent to LVC. The five-foot-wide pathways formed the shape of a dinosaur that was nicknamed “Cornelius the Cobasaurus.”

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A graphic of the layout of the Amazing Maize Maze. (Bill Dussinger in September 9, 1993 Lancaster New Era, via Newspapers.com)

After its completion in September, the maze was open to the public for just two weekends, during which it gained a lot of attention from several local and national newspapers.

At the time, the maze held the position of the world’s largest maze in the Guinness Book of Records, but it has since been surpassed as corn mazes began to sprout up across the country and the world.

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What story from Lebanon County’s past should we share next?

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