Exploring the Fort Bedford Museum in Bedford County

Fort Bedford Museum in downtown Bedford Pennsylvania.

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

Historical plaque at Fort Bedford.
Historical plaque at Fort 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.

A Conestoga Wagon on display inside the Fort Bedford Museum.
A Conestoga Wagon on display inside the Fort Bedford Museum.

Located just off the Lincoln Highway in downtown Bedford, the Fort Bedford Museum is an outstanding place to learn about the history of this part of Pennsylvania, once considered the “Wild West” of colonial America.

A sleigh used to deliver mail in Bedford County in the early 1900s.
A sleigh used to deliver mail in Bedford County in the early 1900s.

Brief History of Fort Bedford

Fort Bedford was constructed during the French and Indian War by British troops under the command of Colonel Henry Bouquet, who in turn answered to General John Forbes.

British officer reenactors at Fort Ligonier Days.
British officer reenactors in French and Indian War-era garb.

The French and Indian War in America was a fight to determine who would control the “Ohio Country” (part of which is modern day western Pennsylvania), the French and their Native American allies, or the British and their Native American allies.

The reasons for the French and Indian War summarized in this exhibit at the Fort Ligonier museum.
The reasons for the French and Indian War, summarized in this exhibit at the Fort Ligonier museum.

Three years earlier in 1755, British General Edward Braddock had been soundly defeated (and mortally wounded) in an attempt to remove the French from Fort Duquesne, site of present-day Pittsburgh.

A summary of General Braddock's campaign to remove the French from Fort Duquesne, on display at the Fort Necessity Visitor Center.
A summary of General Braddock’s campaign to remove the French from Fort Duquesne, on display at the Fort Necessity Visitor Center.

To succeed where Braddock had failed, General Forbes ordered a road be built from Philadelphia westward towards Fort Duquesne, with a series of forts and supply depots built roughly every 50 miles along the route to protect his supply lines.

History of Fort Bedford.
History of Fort Bedford.

The Fort Bedford Museum is NOT a replica of the original fort, like Fort Ligonier in Westmoreland County, built during the same military campaign.

Fort Ligonier on a late summer morning.
Fort Ligonier on a late summer morning.

Rather, it is fashioned to look like a “blockhouse” from around the same time period, one of several blockhouses that are believed to have been part of the original Fort Bedford.

Entrance to the Fort Bedford Museum in downtown Bedford Pennsylvania.
Entrance to the Fort Bedford Museum in downtown Bedford, Pennsylvania.

There is, however, a detailed model of what the original Fort Bedford is believed to have looked like on display inside the museum.

A model of what the original Fort Bedford looked like.
A model of what the original Fort Bedford looked like.

Touring the Fort Bedford Museum

The Fort Bedford Museum contains thousands of artifacts and numerous exhibits that tell the story of the people and events that shaped the history of present-day Bedford County.

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

Being named after a fort, of course there are plenty of military artifacts on display, as you would expect.

Rifles on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.
Rifles on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.

But there is much more to the museum than just “war stories”.

Artifacts on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.
Artifacts on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.

Means of transportation, styles of clothing and furniture, famous citizens, and inventions that were born in Bedford County are chronicled as well.

Bedford County artifacts on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.
Bedford County artifacts on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.

The Original Fort Bedford

Portions of the footprint of the original Fort Bedford are visible at a small park just a few hundred yards east of the Fort Bedford Museum.

Site of the original Fort Bedford, just a few hundred yards east of the current Fort Bedford Museum.
Site of the original Fort Bedford, just a few hundred yards east of the current Fort Bedford Museum.

Accessible either from East Pitt Street (the original Lincoln Highway) or via a riverwalk and stairs from below, the original foundation and reproduction of the stockade are worth seeing if you’re a history buff.

Stairway leading from the riverwalk to the location of the original Fort Bedford.
Stairway leading from the riverwalk to the location of the original Fort Bedford.

Fort Bedford Museum Hours and Directions

The Fort Bedford Museum is located just off the original Lincoln Highway at 110 Fort Bedford Dr, Bedford, PA 15522.

Or if you prefer GPS coordinates, use 40.01994, -78.50383.

A map to the Fort Bedford Museum and nearby attractions in Bedford, Pennsylvania.
A map to the Fort Bedford Museum and nearby attractions in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

For up-to-date hours, admission prices, and information on potential closures (COVID-related or otherwise), please be sure to check the Fort Bedford Museum’s official website for details.

Historic furniture made in Bedford County on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.
Historic furniture made in Bedford County on display at the Fort Bedford Museum.

Fort Necessity in Fayette County is where the first shots of the French and Indian War were fired.

The modern-day replica of Fort Necessity at the National Battlefield in Fayette County PA
Fort Necessity in Fayette County.

It is also the site of George Washington’s only military surrender, in 1754.

Inside the entrance at the Fort Necessity museum.
Inside the entrance at the Fort Necessity museum.

Fort Ligonier in Westmoreland County was built the same year as Fort Bedford, and is the site from which General Forbes launched his successful mission to take Fort Duquesne from the French.

Entering Fort Ligonier.
Entering Fort Ligonier in Westmoreland County.

This full-sized replica of the original British fort also boasts an outstanding museum dedicated to the French and Indian War.

Weaponry on display inside Fort Ligonier museum.
Weaponry on display inside Fort Ligonier museum.

Want to make your trip to Fort Bedford even MORE epic?

Rent a one-of-a-kind vacation home near Fort Bedford through Vrbo!

A vacation rental home near Fort Bedford Pennsylvania
Photo courtesy of Vrbo.

Check out dozens of unique cabins, cottages, and vacation homes near Fort Bedford at the Vrbo link below.

Disclaimer: If you book a vacation rental through this Vrbo link, I get a small commission (at NO additional cost to you!), which helps offset the expense of hosting the PA Bucket List website.

Nearby Attractions

Located just a few blocks from Fort Bedford is Dunkle’s Gulf Station, an art deco-style service station built along the Lincoln Highway in 1933 and still in operation to this day!

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

The Bedford Coffee Pot is “roadside giant” from the heyday of the Lincoln Highway, located along the western edge of Bedford.

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

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.

Blacksmithing demonstration at Old Bedford Village.
Blacksmithing demonstration at Old Bedford Village.

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

Fishing pier at Shawnee State Park.
Fishing pier at Shawnee State Park in Bedford County.

The 1806 Old Log Church is the oldest standing church in Bedford County, located along the Lincoln Highway just west of Bedford.

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

The Grand View Ship Hotel near Bedford 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.
The Grand View Ship Hotel, once located 17 miles west of Bedford.

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 and supposedly haunted 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.

The Abandoned PA Turnpike is a 13 mile bike trail between Bedford and Fulton counties, a remnant of the first “superhighway” in the United States.

Approaching the western portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel on the Abandoned PA Turnpike in September 2020.
Approaching the western portal of the Sideling Hill Tunnel on the Abandoned PA Turnpike in September 2020.

Now eerily silent, the bike path features a pair of long, unlit tunnels as well as miles of old asphalt road.

Bicycling the Sideling Hill Tunnel in September 2020.
Bicycling the Sideling Hill Tunnel in September 2020.

19 Must-See Destinations in Bedford County will show you even more great places to visit near the Fort Bedford Museum.

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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