Newsletter · Volume 21: Pennsylvania

PA’s Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor has some great articles online on their News page. Here you can read about Clara Gardner – the Ship Hotel “Baby”, the reopening of the Bedford Springs Hotel, the premier coverlet collection in Latrobe, renovation of the Historic Wills House in Gettysburg, and other PA LH activities:

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review discusses the history and future of Wilkinsburg:

About this Brian Butko comments:

Wilkinsburg is just a couple blocks from the Frick where I gave my early-travel talk last month, and it (the Frick) has a great car and carriage museum. Right on the line between Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg is Peppi’s, better known as the former Charlie’s Scotty’s Diner.

Yes, the main drag was the Lincoln AND William Penn Highways — the forlorn remnants of the Penn-Lincoln Hotel prove it.

Indeed, there are fine homes, businesses, and hope for the future. Still, I think most LH tourists would hit the accelerator on their drive through town. Like many towns (and boroughs) where steel and other big industries were once king, empty storefronts predominate. For those who do slow down, there’s a great bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln at the intersection of the L and WP highways, and the deco diner is truly a miracle in a region where most diners have moved out. (PA is surely the biggest old-diner exporter, as there were so many, and they remained mostly original, but now the population is not there to support them while growing areas are hungry for such places, and at bargain prices.) Across the street, a corner gas station is being replaced by a drugstore. It’s good to hear that there’s hope for the housing — every town in the region has mini-mansions, usually at hilltops where steel executives once lived, but now the gems are surrounded by boarded-up, overgrown cousins.

Likewise experiencing a turnaround a mile to the west is East Liberty, once home to what’s called the first drive-in gas station (on the LH) but ripped apart by urban redevelopment in the 60s, notably a traffic circle around the business district. It’s suddenly become the place to grow and go, making for some interesting contrasts. On its western end, many old auto dealers still line Pittsburgh’s LH-era “automobile row.”

Craig, from Mechanicsburg, PA reports on his April day trip LH
jaunt, from Yahoo’s roadsidefans discussion group:

I took a short jaunt on the Lincoln Highway yesterday. I exited Interstate 81 at the Lincoln Way exit near Chambersburg. I went downtown briefly to visit the Olympia Candy Kitchen, a candy and gift shop that has been in business since 1903. It was good to see the store busy with Easter Candy buyers in anticipation of tomorrow’s holiday. I walked down the street to take a look at the Capitol Theater and I also saw that the historic Molly Pitcher Waffle House is back in business. It was closed the last time I was there in December.

I then returned to the Lincoln Highway and headed west toward Fayetteville. The Lincoln Highway pretty much follows Route 30, but does head off now and then onto the old road. I made a few stops at some antique stores before coming to my one of my favorite roadside attractions, Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum ( Mr. Ed sells fresh roasted peanuts, lots of old fashioned candy, fudge, and of course many elephant souvenirs.

I have been there many times so I already have their mugs and T shirt, so yesterday I bought peanuts, rootbeer barrels and a small red elephant knickknack. I also visited the free museum filled with all kinds of elephant memorabilia from stuffed elephants, glass elephants, toy elephants to even an elephant potty chair.

And since the Totem Pole Play house is nearby (where Jean Stapleton often performed, because her husband ran the place) there is even an autographed cast photo from All in the Family hanging on the wall.

Outside at Mr. Ed’s there is a big fiberglass elephant named Miss Ellie. She talks to you and flaps her eyes and ears as she speaks. On the other side of the yard is another large elephant by a pond and a few giraffes. A sign invites all to enjoy the yard and gardens.

After my visit at Mr. Ed’s, I continued down the Lincoln Highway to Gettysburg. I took a short detour to visit a round barn. The barn was closed, but will reopen in May to see fresh fruit and vegetables. I then continued on to Gettysburg where I drove past the battlefield and had a late lunch at the Lincoln Diner, right in the center of town. I enjoyed my pizza burger and fries. This is quite an attractive diner and has a dining room built onto the back if one prefers a non-smoking environment. I then headed home via Route 15. All in all it was a fun day.

Brian Butko reports about the oldest bridge on the

A new report does not bode well for what is perhaps the oldest bridge on the Lincoln Highway, but you can email words of support.

The bridge over Poquessing Creek, at the border of Philadelphia and Bucks Counties, PA, was built in 1805 for the Byberry- Bensalem Turnpike, and improved in 1917 as Lincoln Highway traffic began to overwhelm it. Since busy Roosevelt Boulevard bypassed it in 1921, it has slipped into oblivion, leaving it a very rare remnant in a very urban environment (right behind a Lincoln Motel). The bridge leads into Benjamin Rush State Park but straddling the county line has led to unclear ownership and lack of upkeep.

The report cataloged and ranked 125 Philadelphia-area stone arch bridges, which is the problem – unlike some, the Poquessing Creek Bridge is not needed for traffic, and is not eligible for listing on the National Register because of scouring (the undermining and deterioration of the base due to water erosion), making it “not a strong candidate for preservation.” It is ranked 62, but only about 40 bridges will receive any maintenance or preservation.

Former LHA state director John Harman, who talked with the consultant, reports:

The bridge is artificially ranked as high as it is (right in the middle of the 125 bridges) because of its historic value associated with the Lincoln Highway. Otherwise, it would be lower. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has also recently advocated for the bridge’s preservation and higher priority status.

You can see the full Draft Management Plan at

with details on pages 126-127, aka B44-45, but the 28MB file takes a while to download even on fast connections.

For a summary of this bridge, go to

In the Search line, choose the county Bucks, and a map will sooncome up with a list of bridges. Click #24 PHILADELPHIA – BUCKS CO LINE. You will get a map of the bridge and an overview. Click on Report and you’ll get more info in a new window.

If you’d like to send comments, go back to the main page and click “Your Comments/Contact Us.”

Let officials know this is an extremely rare and prized resource of the Lincoln Highway, especially in the eastern half of the U.S. As interest in the route increases, it will draw visitors from around the world much as bridges do elsewhere on the Lincoln Highway and Route 66.

Also some photos and info here:

From comes a review of the Puerto Rican restaurant Red Rice and Beans Cafeon the Lincoln Highway in
Coatesville, PA:
[Sounds like my kind of place!]

Another article about Laurie Conrad‘s Ship Hotel play — On the Deck of the Ship Hotel:

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette comes an article about the 18th century Forbes Trail – Retracing the trail to Forks of the Ohio:

Denny Gibson comments about the article: “Early in the article they mentions a Forbes Road marker at Penn & Linden that the Lincoln [Highway] definitely ran past on Penn. It may also have been US-30 at some point but I don’t know. I know there are some places further east where Forbes, Lincoln, & US-30 all followed the same path.”

Brian Butko then reports, “I’m editing an article (for Western PA History magazine) right now on exactly this topic. The planned driving guidewill really help those retracing for the Forbes Road, which is often far off-road. Although the Lincoln Highway follows it in spirit, they’re rarely the exact same path, though a few old inns still line the Lincoln. US 30 in western PA follows the Lincoln except where the route has been shortened, mostly around towns like Bedford, Stoystown, Ligonier, and Greensburg.”

The P-G article doesn’t mention that protesting the Forbes Road route was 26-yr-old George Washington, who wanted to see Braddock’s Road reused. (It had been carved in the first attempt to oust the French in 1755.) That would become the National Road/US 40 – Washington’s interest was that it gave his Virginia colony easier access to frontier lands to invest in.

The Forks of the Ohio is where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio. It was the site of French Fort Duquesne, and after Forbes’ 1758 mission, Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh. That’s why the main drag in Bedford and Greensburg (later the Lincoln Highway) is named Pitt Street — they’re on the road (Forbes Road) that went to Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh. Make sense??

These two forts at the forks were at Pittsburgh’s present-day Point State Park. As mentioned by RoadDog, the first evidence of the French Fort Duquesne was just found, but Pittsburgh will be re-burying it – they want to make the park event-friendly!

From the Tribune-Review, a story about the Ligonier, PA home tour: