Lincoln Highway Experience – America’s First Cross-Country Road

Last Updated on June 15, 2021 by Jeremy

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The Lincoln Highway is America's first transcontinental highway and runs from New York City all the way to San Francisco. 

It was dedicated in 1913 and over the last 100+ years has had a pretty incredible history. To say that this road helped connect the country and opened accessibility to hundreds upon hundreds of small towns and boroughs is not an exaggeration- this one really changed the way Americans work, play, and travel.

While we weren't around to be able to enjoy the Lincoln Highway in its prime, we can get the next best thing in learning all about it at the Lincoln Highway Experience just outside of Latrobe. Next time you're in the area, you'll do well to stop and check this great little museum out!

What to See at the Lincoln Highway Experience

Historical Photos from the Lincoln Highway

The roughly fifteen exhibits at the Lincoln Highway Experience cover an array of topics around the highway's history- from the early calls to its creation and subsequent dedication in 1913, the military's elaborate crossing in 1919 (of which future President Dwight D Eisenhower was a part of and helped shape future transportation policy), the road's use in tourism including its unusual roadside attractions (specifically around the Pennsylvania stretch of the highway), a ton of historical photos, and a whole lot more.

1919 Lincoln Highway Convoy Exhibit

These all come together to provide a rather robust understanding of the significance of the Lincoln Highway from the need for the road itself, its popularity for tourism purposes in the mid-1900s, and its later (and unfortunate) decline in usage thanks to the rise of the turnpike and its associated convenience.

But apart from seeing the exhibits here, the museum goes above and beyond with a ~10-minute video on the road's history and audio guide you can listen to as you pass through the exhibits as well. We left this one with a rather robust understanding of America's first transcontinental highway, a ton of nostalgia for what once was, and a strong desire to get off the turnpike and take a long ride on the Lincoln Highway in our next crossing of the state. We really want to see the small boroughs and the remaining relics from earlier eras- like the giant coffee pot near Bedford!

Pedaling Coast to Coast at the Lincoln Highway Experience

But there is one exhibit at the Lincoln Highway Experience that no guest should miss, and that is one of the last ones you'll see- the restored diner!

Don't Miss a Slice of Pie and Coffee at the Diner

Serro's Diner at the Lincoln Highway Experience

The final room of the Lincoln Highway Experience is perhaps the grandest of them all and features historical gas pumps, a model motel room from the road's heyday, and the meticulously restored Serro's diner as well!

It was this 1930's diner that was perhaps the highlight of our visit to the museum as you can not only enjoy this one inside and out, but you are also able to receive a slice of pie and a cup of coffee with your admission (both from local producers)! In a way, this is getting the true road trip experience as you are able to effectively stop for a snack before continuing on with your day- on the Lincoln Highway in the Laurel Highlands no less.

Slice of Pie and Coffee

Since a slice of pie and cup of coffee are hard to come by at most museums, you can imagine why we loved this one as much as we do. You can't really get that experience elsewhere.

Overall, while the Lincoln Highway Experience cannot be described as a terribly large museum, it offers a rather comprehensive look into the history of America's first transcontinental road. We definitely learned a lot more about the Lincoln Highway than we ever thought possible when stopping here, and highly recommend taking an hour or so to explore this one next time you're in the area!

The Lincoln Highway Experience is located at 3435 Route 30 East in Latrobe, PA.

Looking for more to do in the area? Be sure to check out Fort Ligonier, Idlewild and Soak Zone, or the Compass Inn Museum nearby!

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