Posts Tagged ‘PA’

Drive-In Gas Station’s 100th on Lincoln Highway

December 2, 2013

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
On December 1, 1913, the Lincoln Highway had only celebrated its dedication a month earlier when the world’s first architect-designed drive-in gas station opened along the new coast-to-coast road in Pittsburgh.

Gulf’s pioneering station in Pittsburgh.

Gasoline had been sold for years at hardware stores and other businesses serving the burgeoning auto industry. There were also places selling only gasoline, even drive-in stations.

Gulf logo

But the fuel was often kept in barrels and poured from large cans. And unlike those existing buildings or informal shacks, Gulf Oil had an architect design the new building to efficiently and elegantly pump gas and provide other services. In fact, the following year, the station would start giving away the first free oil company road maps.

The station featured a canopy to shield motorists from weather, new Bowser hand-cranked pumps, large incandescent-lit signs, attendants on duty day and night, and the checking of fluids — all new to the industry.

The station was on Baum Boulevard (the Lincoln Highway) at St. Clair Street. Baum was quickly becoming Pitsburgh’s “automobile row” (common in all cities), filling with garages, tire shops, and car dealers — even the local auto club. Baum already served the carriage trade so this was a natural outgrowth. That itself made sense since Baum connected the city to the mansions being built to the east along on Penn Avenue in Point Breeze — also  the Lincoln Highway.

An informal station was already operating on the site when landowner James Mellon contracted the new station. The Mellon family was Gulf’s first and foremost investors, intertwining their Mellon Bank and Gulf Oil for decades. Gulf was an early proponent of branding gas, especially with its bright orange circle logo, as opposed to generic gas that was also often of lower quality; a branded station was a natural next step.

Gulf2

The station didn’t last long, perhaps as late as 1950. Since then it’s been a parking lot. In 2000, the Gulfoil Historical Society campaigned for, and helped erect, a state historical marker to the station. I visited the site today, on the station’s 100th birthday, in the Lincoln Highway’s 100th year.

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Lincoln Hwy Boy Scout Bernie Queneau turns 100

July 14, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Bernie Queneau, the Lincoln Highway’s best-known ambassador, celebrates his 100th birthday today. In 1928, he was one of four Eagle Scouts to cross the Lincoln Highway (at 16) as part of a Scouts’ Safety Tour, which also promoted the highway and its marking that September with thousands of iconic concrete posts.

I was fortunate that in 1997, LHA president Esther Oyster arranged with me to interview 85-yr-old Bernie at my workplace, the Heinz History Center. Years later they returned—together—and took me to lunch to announce their engagement! They were married in 2003 and continue to explore the world together, showing up a few weeks ago at the LHA conference in Ohio. That’s Bernie and Esther Queneau a few years ago at a LHHC event.

Check out Bernie recalling the 1928 trip in this brief outtake from Rick Sebak’s 2008 program about the Lincoln Highway. Click the image, then Bernie’s block near Pittsburgh, PA:

Today would also have been the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie, known for his folk songs more closely associated with Route 66. The Lincoln Highway Association is also celebrating its centennial this year, culminating in a celebration July 1, 2013.

First waitress in 1938 remembers Serro's DIner

June 14, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
As the former Serro’s Diner moves closer to being back in service, the diner’s first waitress got to visit the restoration project. The Serro family opened the brand new 1938 O’Mahony-brand diner in Irwin, Pa., as a Lincoln Highway bypass was being built around the town for the coming Pennsylvania Turnpike terminus. The diner will soon be part of a museum complex being built by the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor between Greensburg and Ligonier.

A story in the Tribune-Review (including the two images here by Eric Schmadel) reported how 95-year-old Jenny Baloh recently visited the diner where she began waitressing in 1938. As one of the 10 Serro siblings, she was THE first waitress:

My brothers (Louis and Joseph) bought the dining car when I was a teenager. I told them I didn’t know a thing about waitressing. They said, “You’ll learn.”

The diner was rescued from likely demolition in 1992 when I had the pleasure of arranging for its purchase and move by the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, now the Heinz History Center. With no practical place to display the diner, it was given to the LHHC. After almost 2 years of work, the diner is almost ready for it’s new home, a  soon-to-be-constructed addition at the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum along Route 30 East, across from the Kingston Bridge.

Order Lincoln Highway Companion from Amazon – click HERE

PA Roads: From the Lincoln to Eisenhower

February 27, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor will present “Pennsylvania’s Roads: From the Lincoln to Eisenhower” at 2 pm, March 11, at the Lincoln Highway Experience, 3435 Route 30 East, near Kingston Dam in Latrobe. Presenter Jeffrey Kitsko will explore the history of the Lincoln Highway, the PA Turnpike, and the Interstate Highway System as envisioned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Jeff  will also discuss roadway construction from the time of the named auto routes and the importance of preserving the Lincoln Highway. He brings his expertise on the history of Pennsylvania’s roadways particularly as the webmaster of the award-winning site www.pahighways.com.

Advance reservations are required. Visit www.LHHC.org to make reservations through PayPal or call (724) 879-4241. A fee charged per person will include light refreshments.

Winchester Room steakhouse destroyed by fire

February 7, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
A longtime popular restaurant on the Lincoln Highway east of Pittsburgh, Pa., was destroyed by fire yesterday. A blaze was reported about 1 p.m. Monday at The Winchester Room steakhouse, 1728 Lincoln Highway, North Versailles. Firefighters were on the scene for nearly eight hours.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted North Versailles fire Chief Jeff McNeill as saying the restaurant was a “total loss. I can’t even tell you the last time we had a big fire like this.”

Hit the road with MyLincolnHighway

January 9, 2012

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Stuck inside with no road trips till Spring? Click on over to mylincolnhighway.com for a fun look at some LH travels in Ohio. Jamie calls her blog “A somewhat baised guide to the greatest road across the USA.”

Her trips so far are mostly in east-central Ohio but she’s also traveled a few times to Grand View Point near Bedford, Pennsylvania, and even visited the new Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum past Chambersburg. Below, she is at Grand View Point (which was renamed Mt. Ararat a couple decades ago when the Ship Hotel was ark-ified). The view of the gas station across the road. Note the pillar on the right is missing, spelling certain doom for the roof. Also note the graffiti artist reminding us of their trip in “20010”!

Lincoln Highway in "Endless streams and forests"

December 13, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Recent blog posts from “Endless streams and forests” have visited a number of Lincoln Highway locales. The writer, Jenny, lives in Asheville, North Carolina, but has traveled far and wide; many of her posts are about the outdoors and “landscape viewed through the filter of history, literature, art, or philosophy.”

Lincoln Highway travels so far have been mostly across Pennsylvania, such as a visit (above) to Williams Deluxe Cabins in Exton.

Pa LHHC Road Rally includes Ship Hotel mystery

October 6, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor is once again staging a Lincoln Highway Road Rally this weekend, October 8 and 9. This year’s rally will start in Jennerstown and end at Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum in Orrtanna, 12 miles west of Gettysburg, and includes a mystery! Although registration has ended, you can see the group along the way with its many antique car participants.

This year’s rally starts 9:30 a.m. with breakfast at the Coal Miner’s Cafe in Jennerstown, then visit the Bicycle Built for Two Roadside Giant, the new Flight 93 Memorial and the former site of the Grandview Ship Hotel. Lunch at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort, then a quilt show and Civil War exhibit at the Bedford County Historical Society. The day will end with a visit to a second Roadside Giant, a giant quarter in Everett.

Sunday includes a stop at the 1920 Seldon Truck Roadside Giant and a visit to Chambersburg, tours of the Thaddeus Stevens Blacksmith Shop, and a picnic lunch at Caledonia State Park. The drive will end at Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum about 2:30 p.m.

Participants will be asked to help solve the murder of a former naval officer at the S.S. Grand View Ship Hotel west of Bedford. Clues will be posted along the route to help solve the crime.

To find out more about the rally or other LHHC events, e-mail olga@LHHC.org or call 724-238-9030.

Bill & Karen's new Lincoln Highway trip

September 3, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
Long-distance travelers Bill and Karen post wonderful stories and photos about their 2-lane trips. The Ontario couple last drove the Lincoln Highway in 2009 and have used my books to track down every highlight and report back lots of updates. This year they picked up the LH near Downingtown, Pa., on Day 34 of their trip and traveled west  to Plainfield, Illinois, by Day 50. Travel along at billstraveljournal.blogspot.com/.


Bill writes: We concluded our Lincoln Highway road trip at the same spot in Plainfield Illinois where we started the journey on July 7, 2009. It also marks the spot where we concluded our Route 66 road trip in 2008.  This spot is where the two roads share the same 3 blocks…. All we need to do now is to drive from Times Square NY to Exton PA and we will have completely driven the Lincoln Highway from beginning to end.

Rail cars along Lincoln Highway in PA sold as scrap

August 1, 2011

LINCOLN HIGHWAY NEWS IS A BLOG BY BRIAN BUTKO
The Evening Sun of York, Pa., reports that a pair of classic railroad cars that greeted Lincoln Highway travelers to nearby New Oxford have been demolished and sold for scrap.


The article explains that Stephen Hieber had the two passenger train coaches next to his business on Lincolnway West in New Oxford. His company, PWI Inc. (which specializes in petroleum dispensing products), acquired the two blue-gray Baltimore & Ohio Railroad coaches at auction in 1999. The company has rented out the 80-foot coaches to various small businesses but for the past three years, no one was willing to take on the expense of renting the coaches. With restoration too expensive, Hieber decided to sell them for scrap.

The two B&O coaches came to rest in New Oxford in 1972 thanks to business owner and railroad enthusiast Paul Wagner, who purchased the discarded cars and had them delivered and carefully placed in a V shape next to the tracks on the south side of Lincolnway West. Wagner used the coaches as home for his Paul’s Model Railroad Shop….

“There is no way a small business can afford the heating and cooling costs,” Hieber said. “There is no insulation. They are literally steel cans.”…

The coaches, built in 1930 by the Pullman Company and rebuilt in 1948 in the B&O shops, were used for service between St. Louis and Washington, according to a 1972 Hanover Sun story….

“If somebody had come along I would have been happy to sell them,” he said. “It doesn’t make me any happier than anybody else.”