Archive for January, 2009

Middlegate and Shoe Tree seen on street views

January 30, 2009

I was fishing around the Google street views for Middlegate and the Shoe Tree east of Fallon, Nevada, while double-checking my Lincoln Highway Companion draft, and captured a couple interesting views. Here’s the Shoe Tree – where visitors hang their shoes:


Below is a wide-angle view of Middleage – the stage station, bar, and motel are to the left (South-West); the old Lincoln Highway to the right of center heading into the distance (West); and at right, the side road (NV 361) that heads NorthWest to the intersection with US 50. CLICK THE IMAGE to see the large-sized panorama:


Last chance to visit Calif LH ghost town in May

January 29, 2009

The long-abandoned town of Clarksville, just outside of El Dorado Hills, California, is set to be cleared and developed in the next couple years. The town boasts one of the longest sections of original Lincoln Highway along the Pioneer Branch between Sacramento and Carson City, Nevada.


Philip Wood, writing in the El Dorado Hills Telegraph. reported that the owner will be developing the property this year, though preserving parts for a museum to honor Clarksville’s history. Wood and Don Chaddock got a chance to photograph the land that lies east of Sacramento. Those are Wood’s photos here.

More exciting, a follow-up article in the Folson Telegraph announces that the public will have one last chance to visit the town that time forgot thanks to members of the town’s historical society.


Betty January, president of the Clarksville Region Historical Society, said Ken Wilkenson, one of the property owners, worked out a deal to hold their annual Clarksville Day at the site on May 9. A large barn that was also once the schoolhouse will be used for the celebration.

January said Clarksville was founded around 1849-50, because of the nearby Mormon Tavern, and quickly became a commercial and social center for the area, eventually home to a few hundred people. The road dates to that period. Wilkenson says the roadway will be preserved.

Only about dozen structures remain but the town once had a Wells Fargo building, general store, school, and hotels. Decline came when the Folsom-to-Shingle Springs branch of the railroad bypassed the town, and really came when US 50 was rerouted, cutting off the town so that it could not even support a gas station. The last resident left in 1952, and when a developer bought 11,000 acres in the 1960s, he renamed the area El Dorado Hills. The ghost town again has one resident — in a new house built atop the site of the general store after it burned down.

Cars will be able to drive the Lincoln Highway during Clarksville Day. The event will feature vintage cars and other activities for the public such as gold panning, and The Pony Express Riders will stage a re-mount.

To learn more about Clarksville Day, visit

Check out more photographs of Clarksville in the Telegraph‘s gallery.


Fire, death at old Lincoln Highway hotel in PA

January 28, 2009

One person died Tuesday in a fire that destroyed a 200-year-old inn along the Lincoln Highway in Fort Loudon, Pennsylvania. The victim was a 19-month-old child. A dozen people were left homeless and four firefighters were injured.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

From the York Daily Record

The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Maryland ran these photos and a slideshow:



Before I knew about the fire, I was at first glad to hear from Debby Heishman, community news editor for the Public Opinion in Chambersburg, who said she would be running my request for Ship Hotel information. But sadly, she told me a companion story would be about the Fort Loudon Inn, which burned Tuesday morning. That story mentions other Lincoln Highway landmarks that burned in recent memory including Sleepy Hollow Tavern near Ligonier, Swiss Chalet (former Lincoln Lodge) atop Laurel Summit, and of course the Grand View Ship Hotel. All this on the heels of the Mountain View Inn closing Sunday, and a rash of arsons in Coatesville PA, makes for a sad winter along the LH.

pa_fortloudonoutThe Fort Loudon Hotel was not at a mountaintop but rather at the base of Tuscarora Mountain in the ittle town of Fort Loudon. Its website , filled with historical information, still shows cheery pictures of the place with tales of its recent restoration by Dawn and Richard Gogin and ambitious plans for the future. The c. 1790 house has also been known as the Laurel Hotel or Vance’s Inn to LH travelers, named by Rosie Vance who ran the inn from 1900 to 1946. The common areas (living room, sun porch, etc) had been available to rent plus the inn had 11 efficiency units for long- and short-term occupancy.

2nd Abraham Lincoln essay contest announced

January 27, 2009

Craig Harmon, director of the Lincoln Highway Museum online site that participated in this week’s inaugural parade, announced his second annual Lincoln & Liberty Global Essay Contest. The 2009 contest happens to coincide with this year’s Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration. Categories for the contest include grade school (K-6), middle school (7-8); high school (9-12), college, middle age (age 18-59),and senior (60+).


Deadline for essay entries is midnight February 9 with the winners announced on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12, following the National Lincoln birthday celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The grand prize winner’s name will be placed on a large Lincoln bust that will serve as a “rotating trophy.” First place winners will receive a commemorative Obama license plate made specially for the Inauguration and a certificate suitable for framing. Certificates will also be issued for second place, third place and honorable mention.

Full contest rules and details are available at or directly here.

Follow-up on Mountain View cites cash flow

January 26, 2009

An article in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Mountain View Inn near Greensburg, Pa., had not gotten the loan it needed and was closing.

“First Commonwealth Bank on Friday refused to renew a revolving line of credit the innkeepers said they needed to see the hotel through the four slowest months for the hospitality industry,” according to the article.


Despite 60 weddings booked this year (a 50% increase), the owners of the Lincoln Highway landmark said they needed the funds to “see the hotel through the four slowest months for the hospitality industry.” They also cited competition from numerous national hotel chains that have opened nearby. In recent decades, the Boohers invested $4 million in building two new wings, doubling the inn’s capacity to 90 rooms.

Famous guests included Harrison Ford, the Dalai Lama, Fred Rogers, Arnold Palmer, Bernadette Peters, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Guy Lombardo.

Ship Hotel blueprints show roadside evolution

January 23, 2009

Now that I’ve shifted to working day and night on my book for 2010 — The Ship Hotel: A Grand View along the Lincoln Highway — I’ve dug out copies of the blueprints. Most fascinating are drawings of the original building planned in 1928. The Ship would be built around this basic structure a few years later. Here’s a look at a side elevation of the original stand with some castle ornamentation. You can see how it hung onto the mountainside!


I’ve seen lots of photos but, oddly, NEVER one during construction of either the original hotel or its conversion to the Ship. Anyone have more information or images from its construction?

PA Lincoln Highway-era business to close

January 22, 2009

The Mountain View Hotel & Conference Center, a historic hotel and restaurant founded 1924, is expected to close on Sunday, saddening not only fans of roadside rests and historic hotels, but shocking brides and others who have receptions planned.

Located between old and new routings of the Lincoln Highway east of Greensburg, the popular local landmark was one of the last old-style county hotels along the LH in Pennsylvania. Situated atop a small ridge, it also was part of the tradition in the state of roadhouses that located on mountaintops to serve the boiling radiators of early autos. The P-G and Trib both carried the news. Updates ran here and here.


The Trib noted that owner Vance Booher III blamed the recession as the most recent factor hurting business, and that his bank “has refused to extend a line of credit that would keep the hotel open. Unless he can obtain an emergency loan by the weekend, he will have ‘no feasible alternative but to cease all major operations.'” That does leave a slim window of hope for continued operation.

The inn’s 89 guest rooms are each uniquely decorated, from elegant 18th century to early American country. The original part of the inn survives along with its knotty pine paneling and great stone fireplace

Vance Booher purchased the inn in 1940 when only one of the original 40 upstairs rooms had running water. Private baths were added by knocking out walls and reducing the number of original rooms to 26.

Vance III took over in 1983 along with his wife Vicki. He has been recognized as an Advanced Certified Wine Professional by the Culinary Institute of America, one of only 16 such individuals in America and the first to be so recognized on the East Coast. Their sons were making it a fourth generation enterprise.

The Mountain View and its original 1925 outdoor pool (removed in 1973) served as a retreat for the wealthy of Pittsburgh until WWII, when it also  served as the social headquarters for Army Air Corps cadets training at the nearby airport in Latrobe, now Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (which lays atop the Lincoln Highway).

The website is still operational, with upcoming events listed. Let’s hope financing comes through to keep it going. It’s also a good reminder to patronize locally owned businesses when you can.

Two snowy views of Lincoln Highway, Donner Pass

January 21, 2009

Grant Gassman, a member of the Lincoln Highway California Chapter, took these photos on January 10, 2009, of the Lincoln Highway at Donner Pass and Paul Gilger kindly sent them on. The first photo is a wonderful vista of Donner Lake and the road, taken with a zoom lens from the lookout at the end of the Rainbow Bridge atop Donner Pass.


The second photo is the original Lincoln Highway alignment underpass under the Transcontinental Railroad, and part of the adjacent China Wall.  You can see how the snow drifts completely over the old road, even from just a modest snowfall.


Lincoln connections; Inaugural parade lineup set

January 20, 2009

Using the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used at his inauguration, Barack Obama continued to invoke the 16th President, namesake of the Lincoln Highway. Over the weekend, Obama retraced part of Lincoln’s inaugural train trip from Philadelphia to the U.S. capital in a 1939 royal-blue “Georgia 300” rail-car that presidents and candidates before him have used. Here, he looks out from the back of the train at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, as seen on


The train’s path paralleled the Washington DC Feeder route of the Lincoln Highway that was approved within two years after the main highway’s route was established. Much of the research on the politics behind the feeder was done by Craig Harmon, who will be driving his antique firetruck in today’s parade. The lineup is available various places including here. Of the hundred-some participants, Harmon’s Lincoln Highway Museum (for now an online presence only) is exactly midway. The parade begins at 2:36 p.m. with the new President and Vice-President leading the way along Pennsylvania Ave. from the Capitol to a review stand on the north side of the White House. A neat interactive of the parade and related events is here.

Still time for SS Grand View Ship Hotel stories

January 16, 2009

My Lincoln Highway Companion book is still being proofed for release later this Spring, but already the deadline is here for my next book, due out in 2010: The Ship Hotel: A Grand View along the Lincoln Highway.


One part will feature stories from those who visited or worked there. If you have a recollection or photo you’d like to share, please write.


I also have some Ship info and images on my website at