Remembering the Grand View Ship Hotel in Bedford County

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

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

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.
Autumn view from the site of the former SS Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County.

Building the Grand View Ship Hotel

Know by several names, including the Grand View Point Hotel, The Ship Hotel, and the Ship of the Alleghenies, this roadside curiosity was the brainchild of Herbert Paulson, a native of the Netherlands and an entrepreneur who knew a good spot when he saw one!

The three states visible from Grand View Point along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County Pennsylvania.
The three states visible from Grand View Point along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

In 1928, the Grand View Lookout Point was already a popular spot for tourists to stop when Paulson built a four story castle-shaped hotel and restaurant at this sharp curve along the Lincoln Highway, 17 miles west of Bedford.

The Grand View Point Hotel was originally designed with a castle theme.
The Grand View Point Hotel was originally designed with a castle theme.

Three years later he decided to enlarge and rebrand the hotel as a ship, inspired by the frequent valley fog that rolled in below the hotel, reminding him of ocean waves.

The Grand View Point Hotel as viewed from the west along the Old Lincoln Highway.
The Grand View Point Hotel as viewed from the west along the Old Lincoln Highway.

The SS Grand View Point Hotel opened on Memorial Day 1932, and was a successful venture until the PA Turnpike opened a decade later, siphoning off much of the tourist traffic from Lincoln Highway / Route 30.

Postcard image of nightfall at the Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway.
Postcard image of nightfall at the Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway.

The Grand View Ship Hotel went through numerous remodeling efforts in an attempt to stay current with the times and relevant as a business.

Postcard image of the dining room at the Grand View Point Ship Hotel in Bedford County PA.
Postcard image of the dining room at the Grand View Point Ship Hotel in Bedford County PA.

The Grand View Ship Hotel remained in the Paulson family until 1978, when another family purchased it and tried to rebrand it as “Noah’s Ark”, covering it in hemlock boards to resemble the Biblical ship.

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.

The new owner successfully petitioned the state to have the name of the Grand View lookout changed to “Mount Ararat” to go along with the biblical theme (a name is still carries today).

Grand View Point was renamed Mount Ararat in the 1970s by the state of Pennsylvania.
Grand View Point was renamed Mount Ararat in the 1970s by the state of Pennsylvania.

But there would be no divine intervention, and Noah’s Ark / The Ship Hotel / The Ship of the Alleghenies closed for good in the late 1980s.

The Grand View Ship Hotel after being converted into "Noah's Ark" in the 1980s.
The Grand View Ship Hotel after being converted into “Noah’s Ark” in the 1980s.

What Happened to the Grand View Ship Hotel?

The Grand View Ship Hotel fell into disrepair in the 1990s.

Noah's Ark located on Mount Ararat in Bedford County Pennsylvania.
Noah’s Ark located on Mount Ararat in Bedford County.

In the late 1990s, the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor tried to save the structure, but those efforts proved futile.

Public domain image of the Grand View Ship Hotel after it closed in the mid 1980s.
Public domain image of the Grand View Ship Hotel after it closed in the late 1980s.

In October of 2001, a month after Flight 93 crashed just to the west in Somerset County, the Grand View Ship Hotel burned to the ground.

Looking out over some of the support piers that help up the Grand View Ship Hotel.
Looking out over some of the support piers that help up the Grand View Ship Hotel.

The Grand View Ship Hotel Today

Today all that remains of this iconic roadside attraction is one wall and piles of debris.

The lone wall still standing from the Grand View Ship Hotel in Bedford County PA
The lone wall still standing from the Grand View Ship Hotel in Bedford County PA.

The gas station across the road from the Grand View Ship Hotel is also rapidly decaying.

The abandoned service station across the road from the ruins of the Grand View Ship Hotel.
The abandoned service station across the road from the ruins of the Grand View Ship Hotel.

An yet, despite years of damage by the elements and vandals, this roadside pull-off still attracts thousands of curiosity seekers each year.

Remains of the Grand View Ship Hotel along Route 30 in Bedford County PA
Remains of the Grand View Ship Hotel along Route 30 in Bedford County.

The “grand views” that caused the first motorists to stop here in the early 1900s are still attracting drivers more than a century later.

Grand View Point along the Old Lincoln Highway on Bedford County, PA
Grand View Point along the Old Lincoln Highway on Bedford County.

And a resurgence in nostalgic road trips has introduced a new generation of drivers to slower pace and scenic attractions along the Lincoln Highway.

Looking east along the Old Lincoln HIghway at Grand View Point.
Looking east along the Old Lincoln Highway at Grand View Point.

If you’re interested in visiting the site of the former Grand View Ship Hotel, you’ll find the roadside pull-off along Route 30 / the Lincoln Highway approximately 17 miles west of Bedford at GPS coordinates 40.03738, -78.75842.

How to find the ruins of the Grand View Ship Hotel along the Old Lincoln Highway on Bedford County Pennsylvania.
How to find the ruins of the Grand View Ship Hotel along the Old Lincoln Highway on Bedford County.

The abandoned garage across the road from the former Grand View Ship Hotel is a more obvious landmark, while the lone remaining wall of the hotel is partially obscured by guard rails.

An American flag flying at the site of the former Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County Pennsylvania.
An American flag flying at the site of the former Grand View Ship Hotel along the Lincoln Highway in Bedford County

Grand View Ship Hotel Artifacts

The Lincoln Highway Experience in Westmoreland County is a museum dedicated to telling the story of the Lincoln Highway, and it houses an impressive collection of artifacts and exhibits related to the Grand View Ship Hotel.

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 near Latrobe.

For those like myself who had a chance to dine or stay at the Ship Hotel in one of its its various incarnations, the collection of artifacts at the Lincoln Highway Experience is sure to jog some pleasant memories.

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.

Nearby Attractions

The 1806 Old Log Church is another iconic Lincoln Highway roadside attraction in Bedford County.

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

In fact, the original route of the Lincoln Highway took it through the cemetery of what is the oldest standing church in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

An early postcard of the Old Log Church along the original Lincoln Highway near Schellsburg Pennsylvania.
An early postcard of the Old Log Church along the original Lincoln Highway near Schellsburg, Pennsylvania.

The Bedford Coffee Pot

The Bedford Coffee Pot is located just a few miles east of the 1806 Old Log Church along the Lincoln Highway, on the outskirts of Bedford.

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 pictured on an old postcard.
The Bedford Coffee Pot pictured on an old postcard.

Dunkle’s Gulf Station

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

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

Opened by Dick Dunkle, the Gulf station offered (and still offers) fuel and repairs along America’s first coast-to-coast highway.

Front door of Dunkle's Gulf Station in Bedford, Pennsylvania.
Front door of Dunkle’s Gulf Station in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

The Fort Bedford Museum

The Fort Bedford Museum explains the history of Bedford County on the site of a British fort originally built in 1758.

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

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

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

The Flight 93 National Memorial

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 fought one of the first battles in the war against radical Islamic terrorists in the skies over western Pennsylvania.

The Flightpath walkway at the Flight 93 National Memorial.
The Flightpath walkway at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

The Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville is a tribute to the bravery, service, and sacrifice of those 40 passengers and crew members.

A first responders display inside the Flight 93 Memorial Visitor Center.
A first responders display inside the Flight 93 Memorial Visitor Center.

Want to make your trip to Bedford County even MORE memorable?

Rent a one-of-a-kind vacation home in Bedford County through Vrbo!

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

Browse dozens of vacation homes, cabins, and cottages in Bedford County by clicking the Vrbo logo 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.

Did you enjoy this article?

If so, be sure to like and follow PA Bucket List on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Pinterest to stay up-to-date on my latest write-ups.

Click on any of the icons below to get connected to PA Bucket List on social media!


Pennsylvania’s Best Travel Blog!

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

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here