Exploring Old Bedford Village in Bedford County

Visiting Old Bedford Village in Bedford County Pennsylvania.

Old Bedford Village in Bedford County is a living history museum that gives you a glimpse into what life was like in western Pennsylvania from 1700 until 1899.

Kniseley One-Room Schoolhouse at Old Bedford Village.
Kniseley one-room schoolhouse at Old Bedford Village.

Rather than viewing old photos and dusty relics, visitors learn by seeing reenactors demonstrating activities that would have been common in Bedford County from colonial times up through the Civil War.

Flintlock rifle demonstration at Old Bedford Village.
Flintlock rifle demonstration.

Like any good museum, there is a visitor center and a gift shop, but the bulk of your visit to Old Bedford Village will be spent touring the 40-plus buildings that make up this replica of a western PA frontier village.

Covered wagon outside the Old Bedford Village Welcome Center.
Covered wagon outside the Welcome Center.

Native American Village at Old Bedford Village

The land on which Old Bedford Village sits today was once occupied by a Monongahela village, sometime between 1250 and 1600 A.D.

History of the archaeological digs at what is now Old Bedford Village.
History of the archaeological digs at what is now Old Bedford Village.

Today the Shoop House at Old Bedford Village houses an impressive collection of artifacts and exhibits related to those Native Americans who once called this land home.

Native American artifacts unearthed on the grounds of Old Bedford Village.
Native American artifacts unearthed on the grounds of Old Bedford Village.

A diorama on display in the Shoop House shows what archaeologists believe the village looked like.

Diorama of the Native American village that existed where Old Bedford Village stands today.
Diorama of the Native American village that existed where Old Bedford Village stands today.

The History of Old Bedford Village

Construction of Old Bedford Village began in 1974, to promote the area’s rich historic heritage and in preparation for America’s Bicentennial in 1976.

Farmhouse and garden at Old Bedford Village.
Farmhouse and garden.

Many of the buildings at Old Bedford Village are in fact authentically old – they were disassembled elsewhere in the county are reassembled on new lots at the museum.

The Eight-Square School at Old Bedford Village.
The Eight-Square School.

The Eight-Square School, for example, was built in Bedford County in 1851, and utilized this unique shape to allow for equal distribution of light and heat.

Inside the Eight-Square School at Old Bedford Village.
Inside the Eight-Square School.

The Claycomb Covered Bridge was built elsewhere in the county in 1844, and was later dismantled and relocated to Old Bedford Village, where it now serves as the entrance to the property.

Claycomb Covered Bridge at the entrance to Old Bedford Village.
Claycomb Covered Bridge at the entrance to Old Bedford Village.

Christ Church at Old Bedford Village is a modern reproduction, inspired by the still-standing 1806 Old Log Church a few miles to the west.

Christ Church at Old Bedford Village.
Christ Church.

Even on the frontier, the church was an important part of life, and Christ Church is a beautiful example of how places of worship from that era would have looked, with a few modern exceptions such as ceiling fans and carpet.

Inside the Christ Church at Old Bedford Village.
Inside Christ Church.

Artisans at Old Bedford Village

As a living history museum, many artisans occupy various shops around the village, demonstrating their trades and wares.

Blacksmithing demonstration at Old Bedford Village.
Blacksmithing demonstration.

Gunsmiths, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, and candlemakers are just a few of the artisans you can watch, and in some cases, buy their finished products.

Candle-making shop at Old Bedford Village.
Candle-making shop.

Some of the shops allow you to try your own hand at these frontier skills, like the tinsmith shop, which may or may not win you the admiration of your kids.

A young visitor enjoying the tinsmithing exhibit at Old BEdford Village.
A young visitor expressing her disapproval at Dad’s tinsmithing efforts.

Speaking of kids, you can show them what school was like before iPads and Zoom classes.

Inside the Kniseley one-room schoolhouse at Old Bedford Village.
Inside the Kniseley one-room schoolhouse at Old Bedford Village.

Additional Displays at Old Bedford Village

Aside from arts and crafts shops, you can see what a typical frontier home looked like at Old Bedford Village.

Inside a log home at Old Bedford Village.
Inside a log home at Old Bedford Village.

Livestock was important to survival on the frontier, and a number of farm animals call Old Bedford Village home.

Horse barn at Old Bedford Village.
Horse barn.

Taverns were another important part of frontier life, especially for travelers, and the Pendergrass Tavern at Old Bedford Village is a realistic reproduction of a mid-1700s establishment.

Pendergrass Tavern at Old Bedford Village.
Pendergrass Tavern at Old Bedford Village.

In a non-COVID year, you can enjoy soup, sandwiches, and non-alcoholic drinks at the Pendergrass Tavern.

Inside the tavern at Old Bedford Village.
Inside the Pendergrass Tavern.

Final Thoughts

Old Bedford Village is a great place to spend a day learning about life in western PA during the times of the first European settlers in the region.

Blacksmith shop at Old Bedford Village.
Blacksmith shop.

And if you have kids, they’ll love it as well – trust me!

The Pillory at Old Bedford Village.
The Pillory at Old Bedford Village.

Directions to Old Bedford Village

Old Bedford Village is located at 220 Sawblade Rd, Bedford, PA 15522, just south of the I99/ PA Turnpike interchange.

How to find Old Bedford Village in Bedford County Pennsylvania
Map to Old Bedford Village in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

For the most up-to-date info on hours, admission prices, and any relevant COVID policies, call Old Bedford Village directly at 814-623-1156 or 800-238-4347.

They are NORMALLY open Memorial Day through October 31st, Thursday-Sunday from 9-5, but in the age of COVID, it would be prudent to call ahead to confirm those days/times.


Nearby Attractions

The Fort Bedford Museum was built in 1958, 200 years after the original Fort Bedford was constructed during the French and Indian War.

Fort Bedford Museum in downtown Bedford Pennsylvania.
The Fort Bedford Museum in downtown Bedford.

The museum tells the story not only of that specific war and time period, but of the people that inhabited the region before and since, as well as their history and customs.

Inside the Fort Bedford Museum in Bedford Pennsylvania.
Inside the Fort Bedford Museum in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

Dunkle’s Gulf Station along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford is a throwback to the early days of American automobile transportation.

Dunkle's Gulf Station in Bedford Pennsylvania
Dunkle’s Gulf Station in downtown Bedford, PA.

Designed to be Gulf’s showpiece service station between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the art deco styling of the building has been attracting motorists since it first opened in 1933.

Dunkle's Gulf Station in Bedford featured on a postcard from the heyday of the Lincoln Highway.
Dunkle’s Gulf Station in Bedford featured on a postcard from the heyday of the Lincoln Highway.

The Bedford Coffee Pot is a unique 18 foot-tall “novelty structure” built along what was known at the time as the Lincoln Highway, America’s first coast-to-coast highway.

Fall foliage at the Bedford Coffee Pot.
Fall foliage at the Bedford Coffee Pot.

Constructed in 1927 by David Koontz as a gimmick to entice motorists to stop at his service station for food and fuel, the Bedford Coffee Pot was one of hundreds of “roadside giants” than once stood alongside the Lincoln Highway.

The Bedford Coffee Pot, August 2021.
The Bedford Coffee Pot, August 2021.

The 1806 Old Log Church is the oldest standing church in Bedford County.

Fall foliage in Bedford County at the 1806 Old Log Church.
The 1806 Old Log Church in Bedford County.

Located right along Route 30 (AKA the Lincoln Highway) just west of Bedford, it is visited by thousands of people from around the globe every year.

The pews inside the 1806 Old Log Church along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County PA
The pews inside the 1806 Old Log Church along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County, PA.

Shawnee State Park in Bedford County opened to the public in 1951, and has been a magnet for tourists ever since!

1950s postcard featuring the beach at Shawnee State Park.
1950s postcard featuring the beach at Shawnee State Park.

At the heart of the park is 451-acre Shawnee Lake, used by fishermen, boaters, swimmers, and bird watchers alike.

October at Shawnee State Park.
October morning at Shawnee State Park.

The Grand View Ship Hotel was, in its prime, one of the most famous attractions along the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental automobile route linking the east and west coasts of the United States.

Postcard image of the Grand View Point Hotel along the Lincoln Highway.

Now only the “grand view” remains, but the story of the rise and fall of the Grand View Ship Hotel is no less fascinating.

The view from the site of the former SS Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway.
The view from the site of the former SS Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway.

The Jean Bonnet Tavern in Bedford County not only serves up delicious food and beverages in a colonial American setting, but it is rumored to be the most haunted restaurant in Pennsylvania!

The historic Jean Bonnet Tavern along the Lincoln HIghway in Bedford County, PA.
The historic and supposedly haunted Jean Bonnet Tavern along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County, PA.

19 Must-See Destinations in Bedford County will show you even more great places to visit near Old Bedford Village.

Colvin Covered Bridge in Bedford County, PA.
Colvin Covered Bridge in Bedford County, PA.

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Rusty Glessner is an award-winning photographer, lifelong Pennsylvanian, and creator of the PA Bucket List travel blog.

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