A Walking Tour of Ligonier, Pennsylvania
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Ligonier, Pennsylvania is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions. More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
During the French and Indian War, British General John Forbes was assigned the daunting task of seizing Fort Duquesne, the French citadel at the forks of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. He ordered construction of a new road across Pennsylvania, guarded by a chain of fortifications, the final link being the “Post at Loyalhanna,” fifty miles from his objective, to serve as a supply depot and staging area for a British-American army of 5000 troops. The fort was constructed in September 1758 about the time the British were repulsed in an attack at Fort Duquesne. After a successful defense of Loyalhanna from a French attack on October 12 the heavily outnumbered French abandoned the post, which Forbes occupied on November 25. He designated the site “Pittsburgh” in honor of Secretary of State William Pitt. Forbes also named Loyalhanna “Fort Ligonier” after his superior, Sir John Ligonier, commander in chief in Great Britain. There are two other sites in America that honor the grizzled warrior who was made the Earl of Ligonier in 1766 at the age of 87, four years before his death. One is a small bay on Lake Champlain and the other a town in Indiana that was founded by a pioneer from the Ligonier Valley.
The town of Ligonier was laid out by Colonel John Ramsey in 1817. He rode out from Chambersburg to build a mill on his newly acquired 672 acres of land on the north bank of the Loyalhanna Creek. When the borough was incorporated in 1834, a descendent changed the name of Ramseytown to the more exotic “Ligonier.” Perhaps he was anticipating attracting vacationing tourists in the future. He certainly anticipated the town becoming the most important in the area, designing it round a central diamond awaiting a county courthouse. The designation as a county seat never came but the tourists did and Ligonier has been a resort destination for Pittsburghers since the 1800s.
But growth came slowly, it was non-existent for a time, in fact. In its early days Ligonier was a welcome stop for stagecoach and commercial wagon traffic between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. But in 1952 the Pennsylvania Railroad was completed across the state and it ran not through Ligonier but Latrobe ten miles away The population of Ligonier actually declined from 350 people in 1860 to 317 in 1870.
It would not be until 1878 that the Judge Thomas Mellon, scion of what was to become one of the 20th century’s greatest family fortunes, completed a 10-mile feeder line with the Ligonier Valley Railroad that fortunes reversed. But even though town businesses now had an outlet for their goods, Ligonier’s character remained less commercial than some of its more advanced neighbors. Its reputation as a summer excursion destination was assured in the 1890s when the Mellons developed Idlewild, a picnicking park that is considered the nation’s third oldest amusement park still in operation today. Not coincidentally, Idlewild was sited directly on the Ligonier Valley Railroad right-of-way.
When the Lincoln Highway, America’s first paved transcontinental road, rolled through Ligonier in 1919 it brought more tourists, not industry. Our walking tour will explore the remnants of that historic road that is now the town’s Main Street...