Exploring the Lincoln Highway Experience in Westmoreland County

Postcard from the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe Pennsylvania.

The Lincoln Highway Experience is a museum dedicated to telling the story of the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental automobile route linking the east and west coasts of the United States.

A map of the Lincoln Highway on display at the Lincoln Highway Experience.
A map of the Lincoln Highway on display at the Lincoln Highway Experience.

History of the Lincoln Highway

The Lincoln Highway was conceived in 1912 by the automotive entrepreneur and racing enthusiast Carl G. Fisher.

Carl Fisher, father of the Lincoln Highway
Carl Fisher, father of the Lincoln Highway (public domain image).

Fisher realized that having a system of good roads would be an important factor in the success of the fledgling automobile industry.

At the time, railroads were the chief form of interstate transportation, and Fisher understood that automobile sales would not take off unless people had somewhere to drive them!

Early American motorists in this public domain image.
Early American motorists (public domain image).

So Fisher and a group of friends and investors (including former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, inventor Thomas Edison, and then-current President Woodrow Wilson) set out to raise 10 million dollars to fund the construction of the road, the first section of which was dedicated on December 13, 1913.

Vintage Lincoln Highway postcard from PA.
Vintage Lincoln Highway postcard from PA (from the author’s personal collection).

The Lincoln Highway ran from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, passing through thirteen states and spanning some 3,389 miles.

In 1928, the highway was redirected through a portion of West Virginia, thereby passing through fourteen states and more than 700 cities.

Vintage Lincoln Highway postcard from between Irwin and Greensburg
Vintage Lincoln Highway postcard from between Irwin and Greensburg (from the author’s personal collection).

The Lincoln Highway was America’s first national memorial to President Lincoln, predating the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., by nine years.

Fittingly, the Lincoln Highway passes through Gettysburg, PA, site of President Lincoln’s most famous speech.

Historical marker near the site of the Gettysburg Address.
Gettysburg Address historical marker in Gettysburg, PA.

The Lincoln Highway also brought economic prosperity to the hundreds of cities, towns and villages along the way, and became known as “The Main Street Across America“.

The art deco-styled Dunkles Gulf Station in Bedford PA
The art deco-styled Dunkle’s Gulf Station along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford, PA.

Locating the Lincoln Highway Experience

The Lincoln Highway Experience is itself partially housed in a historic structure, conveniently located right along the Lincoln Highway in Westmoreland County.

The entrance to the Lincoln Highway Experience along Route 30 in Latrobe.
The entrance to the Lincoln Highway Experience along Route 30 in Latrobe.

The Johnston House (home of the museum) is located at 3435 US-30 East, Latrobe, PA, 15650.

Information about the Johnston House which makes up part of the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe.
Information about the Johnston House which makes up part of the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe.

This former stagecoach stop and tavern has stood on this spot for more than 200 years, and along with a newer, attached annex, houses the many artifacts and exhibits that make up the Lincoln Highway Experience.

Johnston House historical marker outside the Lincoln Highway Experience.
Johnston House historical marker outside the Lincoln Highway Experience.

Touring the Museum

The majority (though not all) of the exhibits at the Lincoln Highway Experience deal with the history of the Pennsylvania portion of the highway.

An old postcard exhibit on the outside of the Lincoln Highway Experience.
An old postcard exhibit on the outside of the Lincoln Highway Experience.

And what a diverse collection of exhibits it is!

A vintage license plates display at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe.
A vintage license plates display at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe.

Photographs, videos, petroliana, and antiques of all sorts are just some of the things you’ll see there.

A petroliana exhibit at the Lincoln Highway Experience in the PA Laurel Highlands.
A petroliana exhibit at the Lincoln Highway Experience in the PA Laurel Highlands.

Some of the artifacts are authentically old, others are eclectically modern and part of the efforts to revitalize tourism along the Lincoln Highway.

Vincent van Gas pump at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Westmoreland County.
Vincent van Gas pump at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Westmoreland County.

The Roadside Giants of the Lincoln Highway

One area in particular in which the Lincoln Highway Experience excels is in telling the story of the “roadside giants”.

Information about the roadside giants along the Lincoln Highway.
Information about the roadside giants along the Lincoln Highway.

These eclectic structures were designed to appeal to traveler’s curiosity, and to get them to stop and spend their money in the process.

The Haines Shoe House along the Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania.
The Haines Shoe House along the Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania (public domain image).

The Pennsylvania portion of the Lincoln Highway was home to many famous roadside giants, some of which are still standing, other of which have been lost to time.

The Pied Piper roadside giant along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County.
The Pied Piper roadside giant still stands along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County.

The S.S. Grand View Ship Hotel

One roadside giant that I remember fondly from my own childhood, but which is no longer in existence, was the S.S. Grand View Ship Hotel in Bedford County.

Historical image of the Ship Hotel on display at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe.
Historical image of the Ship Hotel on display at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe.

This ship-shaped hotel and restaurant sat perched on the edge of a mountainside along the Lincoln Highway, overlooking “3 states and 7 counties”.

History of the SS Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County Pennsylvania.
History of the SS Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County

Sadly, it fell into disuse and disrepair and was destroyed by fire in 2001.

Public domain image of the Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County.
Public domain image of the Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County.

Now all that remains is the parking lot, a bit of the foundation, and the “grand views” that made it famous.

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 in Bedford County.

The Lincoln Highway Experience has a great collection of artifacts and souvenirs on display from the heyday of the Ship Hotel.

An assortment of artifacts from the SS Grand View Ship Hotel on display at the Lincoln Highway Experience.
An assortment of artifacts from the SS Grand View Ship Hotel on display at the Lincoln Highway Experience.

There’s also a detailed model of what the S.S. Grand View Ship Hotel looked like in all its glory.

Model of the Grand View Ship Hotel on display at the Lincoln Highway Experience.
Model of the Grand View Ship Hotel on display at the Lincoln Highway Experience.

Serro’s Diner at the Lincoln Highway Experience

Another excellent “exhibit” is the authentically restored 1938 Serro’s Diner, completely contained inside and under roof in the Lincoln Highway Experience annex.

The front of Serros DIner at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe PA
The front of Serro’s Diner at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe.

The attention to detail inside and out is remarkable.

Inside Serros Diner at the Lincoln Highway Experience.
Inside Serro’s Diner at the Lincoln Highway Experience.

But Serro’s Diner is no mere dusty relic to be looked at – it’s a functional diner with coffee or tea and a slice of pie included in the admission price to the museum.

Serros Diner inside the Lincoln Highway Experience in Westmoreland County PA
Serro’s Diner inside the Lincoln Highway Experience in Westmoreland County.

When my Dad and I visited recently, we both agreed that the pie was some of the best we’d ever eaten!

Enjoying the coffee and pie included in the price of admission to the Lincoln Highway Experience.
Enjoying the coffee and pie included in the price of admission to the Lincoln Highway Experience.

Final Thoughts on the Lincoln Highway Experience

We Americans love our cars, and we love the freedom of jumping in them and going wherever we want, whenever we want.

But that was simply not possible in the early days of the automobile, and the Lincoln Highway Experience helps you understand and relive what motorists “experienced” in those early days.

The annex and gift shop at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe PA
The annex and gift shop at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe, PA.

Some of Pennsylvania’s most famous historical sites and roadside attractions can be found along the Lincoln Highway, and the Lincoln Highway Experience helps you understand not only how the highway impacted the economic growth of the towns and cities along its route, but also how it changed people’s perception of travel, allowing it to become less of a chore and more of an adventure.

Vintage Lincoln Highway postcard from Gettysburg PA
Vintage Lincoln Highway postcard from Gettysburg, PA (from the author’s personal collection).

In the age of COVID, I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to visit the Lincoln Highway Experience’s official website to check on the lastest hours, potential closing, and admission prices and practices BEFORE making the trip there.

Exhibit featuring the Bedford Coffee Pot at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe PA
Exhibit featuring the Bedford Coffee Pot at the Lincoln Highway Experience in Latrobe.

But I wholeheartedly encourage you to visit at some point – it’s a terrific museum and a must-see when passing through the Laurel Highlands!


Fort Ligonier lies along the Lincoln Highway just east of the Lincoln Highway Experience.

Historical reenactors staging an attack on Fort Ligonier.
Fort Ligonier along the Lincoln Highway in Westmoreland County.

Many sections of the Lincoln Highway were built on top of Forbes Road, the military road constructed by the British Army at the same time as Fort Ligonier.


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

Dunkle's Gulf Station in Bedford Pennsylvania
Dunkle’s Gulf Station along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford.

The Bedford Coffee Pot is a unique 18 foot-tall “novelty structure” built along the Lincoln Highway in 1927, also in Bedford.

The Bedford Coffee Pot in October 2020.
The Bedford Coffee Pot along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford.

The Grand View Ship Hotel in Bedford County was, in its prime, one of the most famous attractions along the Lincoln Highway.

Postcard image of the Grand View Point Ship Hotel in its prime.
Postcard image of the Grand View Point Ship Hotel in its prime.

Tuscarora Summit, now a popular hang glider and parasailing launch, is located along the Lincoln Highway in Fulton County, near McConnellsburg.

A paraglider launches from Tuscarora Summit along Route 30 in Fulton County PA
A paraglider launches from Tuscarora Summit along Route 30 in Fulton County, PA.

The 1806 Old Log Church stands along a portion of the original route of the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County.

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

The Abandoned PA Turnpike is an obsolete portion of America’s first “superhighway”, now a bike trail with one of its trailheads lying right along the Lincoln Highway.

Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike Rail Trail at Rays Hill Tunnel.
Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike Rail Trail at Rays Hill Tunnel in Bedford County.

The Flight 93 National Memorial is located along the Lincoln Highway in Somerset County.

Approaching the Wall of Names along the Plaza Walkway at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville PA
The Flight 93 National Memorial along the Lincoln Highway in Somerset County.

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Pennsylvania’s Best Travel Blog!

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

4 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you very much for the memories. We still have a cabin at Reels Corner. Remember the Lincoln Highway Garage in York Pa as well.

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