Posts Tagged ‘Ligonier’

Online photos show Sleepy Hollow after the fire

March 14, 2008

The charred remains of Sleepy Hollow Tavern are sad to see. Johnathan Myers has posted photos of the place showing the destruction caused by a fire that started late February 25 along the Lincoln Highway west of Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Click the link above to view them.


Here’s an early postcard of the tavern in happier times….

Can’t go wrong with “food prepared mother’s way”!

More Sleepy Hollow Tavern history recalled

February 26, 2008

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review ran another article today recounting some history of Sleepy Hollow Tavern. Former workers, owners, and customers offer a variety of fond recollections. As Julie Donovan, public relations director for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, said, “It seemed no matter who owned it, it was always busy. It was definitely a Laurel Highlands landmark, and I hate to see it go.”


Above: A photo that was on the wall of Sleepy Hollow when I first visited in 1989 shows the 1930s sandwich stand and gas pumps.

Although a descendant of former owners says it was always Sleepy Hollow, my recollection from a 1989 visit is that that’s correct for the restaurant but not the land around it. The area was known as Kelley’s Hollow; co-owner Joe Neiman’s habit of dozing in his rocking chair in the 1930s led to jokes about Sleepy Hollow, which was used to name the tavern that opened in 1940.


Click the screen shot above for the full Trib article.

Sleepy Hollow Tavern fire being investigated

February 25, 2008

Cy’s matchbook
Above: A vintage Sleepy Hollow matchbook, courtesy Cyrus Hosmer.

The weekend fire at the former Sleepy Hollow Tavern along the Lincoln Highway in western Pennsylvania has left the building charred and condemned. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, after burning overnight Saturday onto Sunday, firefighters were called back at 11:30 Sunday morning when the roof reignited. The second floor, which once housed a dozen hotel rooms, has fallen into the first floor restaurant. Click the image below for the full story from the Trib:


Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Banker, who led some 20 area fire crews, said when he arrived, smoke was coming out of the building from every direction. After attempting to enter the 1939 wood-frame structure, they turned back and could only fight it from outside. There were no injuries reported, but KDKA-TV reports that state police are saying the blaze is suspicious in nature.

Sleepy Hollow was a popular stop since being built 1939-1940, but suffered after the westbound lanes of Lincoln Highway/US 30 were moved across Loyalhanna Creek. A small causeway was added, and after some success as a buffet in the 1980s, the business has had various remodelings. The Trib reports that the most recent owners tried filing for bankruptcy in November.

WPXI-TV has a short story calling it a biker bar. KDKA now has their video report online – click the images below:


The surrounding area remains visually stunning: in 2005, the county purchased 1,239 forested acres from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for $900,000 to create The Loyalhanna Gorge Greenway, stretching 3 miles along both sides of the Loyalhanna Creek from the Kingston Dam to Longbridge through Chestnut Ridge.

Fire Destroys LH Landmark near Ligonier, PA

February 24, 2008

US 30 eastbound was closed for 8 hours overnight as fire destroyed the Hollow Tavern in Unity Twp, Westmoreland County, just west of Ligonier, and about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Built 1939-40 as a restaurant and hotel along the Lincoln Highway in the Loyalhana Gorge, it was perhaps best known for a small concrete causeway across the water. The 2-lane LH ran past its door, but when westbound lanes were moved to the other side of the water in the 1950s, half their customer base disappeared. They fought for, and won, the small access crossover.
PA Sleepy Hollow

The location, popular for its view, had housed a gas station and sandwich stand since the 1920s. The area was known as Kelley’s Hollow but acquired the Sleepy Hollow moniker from one of the owners’ habit of dozing in his rocking chair. The building resembled a big log cabin, and its old wood construction made fighting the fire difficult. Click HERE for no-narrator 1-minute video of the blaze from KDKA-TV (after a 15-second commercial).


Also, click on the image above for a brief text report from WTAE-TV.

Vintage postcards from Idlewild Park, Ligonier PA

December 15, 2007

As reported here previously, Idlewild Park along the Lincoln Highway in Ligonier, Pennsylvaia, will be sold as part of Kennywood Entertainment to Parques Reunidos of Spain, the third-largest European operator of amusement parks. The company only entered the U.S. market two months ago by purchasing 33 water parks. A British private equity firm acquired the company in January 2007 for $1.22 billion—such corporate entanglements worry fans of Idlewild and the other old-fashioned parks currently owned by parent park and company Kennywood.

Here are some vintage postcards showing how Idlewild’s entrance changed over time (the first is from Cy Hosmer). The same round building can be seen in the first two views. This area still serves as an exit but the entrance was moved to the east years ago so that waiting cars would not back up onto the LH/US 30.

PA Idlewild 1 - Cy

PA Idlewild 2

PA Idlewild 3

Idlewild amusement park sold to Spanish company

December 12, 2007

Story Book ForestIdlewild & Soakzone, a family-style amusement and water park along the Lincoln Highway in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, is set to be sold to Parques Reunidos, a Spanish company that manages 61 parks in Europe and America. Starting as a picnic grove for the Ligonier Valley Railroad in 1878, rides were added in 1931, and Story Book Forest fairy tale park in 1956 (a rare survivor of that era). It also includes an official Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Of Make Believe trolley ride and a Lincoln Highway-themed photo-op created by the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor (as seen below in their photo):


Idlewild has been operated since 1983 by Kennywood Entertainment, a family-owned company that also operates two vintage parks in New England and two properties not far from the Lincoln Highway near Pittsburgh: a water park and Kennywood Park in West Mifflin. Kennywood Park itself is an institution; starting as a trolley park in 1896, it was purchased in 1906 by F.W. Henninger and Andrew McSwigan, whose familes have owned and operated it since. PA Auto RideIt’s also within walking distance of where I’ve lived my entire life, so friends are quite impassioned about the surprise announcement. Both parks are full of vintage rides such as Kennywood’s Auto Ride at left.

Commentors to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are overwhelmingly concerned about the changes a large corporation might bring, and that the cherished American sites will be owned by an overseas firm. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review likewise reports that people in the Ligonier Valley have mixed emotions, hoping that promises to maintain Idlewild’s atmosphere will prevail over corporate cost-cutting. Kennywood’s current owners assure the public that the new company is committed to maintaining everything that people love about the parks.

Another Trib article says that half the new owner’s parks (in fact, the 33 US locations) were just bought in October:

Parques Reunidos has grown quickly since its acquisition in January by the London-based Candover private equity investment fund for $1.22 billion. Kennywood said the Spanish company approached its owners with an offer as part of a plan to expand its ownership of family entertainment venues worldwide.