Lincoln Highway logo

Just a short distance southeast of Broad Top Mountain can be found the world-famous Lincoln Highway. Officially, the two, three and four-lane highway snakes up, down and around the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains of central Pennsylvania, and in our area closely parallels the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River.

This favorite route of many travelers, especially during the fall foliage days of October, traces a lot of interesting history and mirrors some of the most scenic landscape in the state. If you’re looking for a gas-saving, close-to-home weekend trip, check out Route 30 between Bedford and McConnellsburg. I promise you a hum-dinger of a trek.

Close to Broad Top

The section of the Lincoln Highway closest to the eastern slopes of Broad Top Mountain lies between Breezewood and Hustontown. Today, the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s “Breezewood By-pass” and the by-pass “over” Rays Hill and Sideling Hill didn’t disturb any of the beautiful scenery motorists were accustomed to seeing when they were traveling the old Route 30 and 915. The latter route connects Route 30 with Wells Tannery and Hopewell.

Still, the old Route 30 offered a more, set-back, early 20th century image of rural Bedford and Fulton counties. The young years of the 20th century — and even during the “Depression Years — offered motorists a overview of the rugged mountains of our region, perhaps no different then the early days of Bedford County (remember that way back during the Revolution, Huntingdon and Fulton counties were a part of Bedford County).

Remember ‘Bill’s place?’

One of the most scenic views from Route 30 is on the top of Rays Hill, just east of Breezewood. At one time this interesting spot, located on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, was the home of “Bill’s Place,” the early 20th century’s answer to a modern-day convenience store. In fact, this well-known establishment proudly laid claim to “the smallest post office in the world.”

And what made “Bill’s Place” so “stoppable” was the fact that it offered one of the most panoramic views of central Pennsylvania. In the distance travelers could see the Allegheny Front to the west, Wells Valley to the east, Broad Top Mountain to the northeast, Sideling Hill and of course, the bright lights of Breezewood, a growing tourist Mecca along Route 30, and the new turnpike and Interstate 70.

History lives along the Lincoln Highway between Bedford and Breezewood. During the French and Indian War and the American Revolution the route served as an important military road and prior to that the route was used by the Native Americans. Several forts sprung up along or near the route including Fort Juniata, just east of Breezewood and Fort Bedford (“Ray’s Town”) at Bedford.

Traveling Route 915

The highway’s “connection” with the Broad Top is near the top of Sideling Hill where Route 915 drops down the mountain into Fulton County, northwest to Hopewell and east to New Grenada. Here, the “Wells Valley Road” (sometimes referred to as Groundhog Valley) intercepts with Route 913. The highway than climbs Broad Top Mountain to Robertsdale or east to Waterfall.

Between Everett and Breezewood, Route 30 closely parallels the Raystown Branch. Interestingly, just east of Everett, the river appears on the right of the highway. If you drive over the ridge on the left, you will see in the distance, the same river as it snakes its way north to Saxton and Raystown Lake.

Pick up a map of the Lincoln Highway and take a trip along this historic and scenic south-central Pennsylvania corridor. You’ll be glad you did.

We have a few photos of the Lincoln Highway in the Broad Top Area Coal Miners Museum at Robertsdale, but you can find a whole lot more in the Bloody Run Historical Society’s Everett Railroad Museum.

Notes Along the way

I often think about Genowefa Grata who lived with her husband, Joe Grata, in the very last house in Robertsdale, on the road to Wood. The ABT readers may recall several columns and Home and Garden features I penned years ago about the Gratas who were excellent gardeners. When times were tough during the coal mining days (Joe was a miner who worked in the old Rockhill mines and later in the Somerset County mines) the Grata family depended on vegetables from the Grata garden. Joe and Genowefa’s children, John (we knew him as “Junior”), Fran and Anthony also lived in the South Main Street home….A visitor to the coal miners museum a few years ago, Skip Neville, Cassville provided me with some interesting photographs which will become a part of the new museum exhibits next spring … If you’re a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, check out your most recent VFW magazine to order a very helpful and informative publication, “Military History Trail.” I now have one in my possession which features a state-by-state compilation of noteworthy military museums, forts, and preserved battlefields. There are over 900 sites listed in this 192-page guide. Color photos, custom maps, information and “fun facts” make up this very unique travel tool.That’s it for this week, until we met again, STRAIGHT AHEAD!


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