Unity museum offers look at PA Turnpike’s impact on Lincoln Highway
The Lincoln Highway Experience museum will mark the 79th anniversary of the opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the Oct. 1 presentation, “The Impact of the PA Turnpike – the Lincoln Highway meets the Superhighway.”
The 7 p.m. program will include a panel discussion and viewing of historic images at the museum on Route 30 eastbound in Unity.
Space is limited and Sept. 30 is the deadline to register by calling 724-879-4241. A $10 fee includes pie and coffee.
Curtis Miner, senior history curator at the State Museum of Pennsylvania; Robert Cupp, local historian and board member of the Norwin Historical Society; and Patrick Bochy, chief of staff of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, will participate in the discussion.
Miner was responsible for developing the permanent Pennsylvania Turnpike exhibit at the State Museum in Harrisburg, which was recognized in 2017 by the American Association for State and Local History.
Bochy will share some examples of Lincoln Highway communities that were bypassed by the turnpike and experienced a setback.
Cupp will discuss how development in the Irwin area was spurred by the Oct. 1, 1940, opening of the initial 160-mile section of the turnpike, which stretched from Irwin in the west to Carlisle in the east.
“At Irwin, everyone had to get onto the Lincoln Highway to travel to Pittsburgh,” Cupp said. “As a result, there was a huge amount of development in terms of hotels and restaurants all along the Lincoln Highway.”
One of the businesses that was part of that Irwin-area boom was the Penn-Irwin Motel, which greeted travelers for 73 years. Located near the McDonald’s restaurant and Big Mac museum, in North Huntingdon, it closed in March, when the owners retired, and has since been demolished.
Serro’s Diner was installed along the Lincoln Highway in 1938, in anticipation of the planned turnpike interchange, Cupp said. It has since been restored and recently was added as a featured attraction at the Lincoln Highway Experience.
A monument recognizing the initial version of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was placed at the Irwin exit in 1990, on the toll road’s 50th anniversary.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .