Lincoln Highway Crossroads Stories, Saint Vincent’s College Talking Point for Museum

Saint Vincent Drive serves as the main entrance to the college and the arch of the same name from modern Route 30, also known as Lincoln Highway.

The intertwined histories of the highway and nearby educational and monastic communities in St. Vincent will be explored in a Feb. 12 program at the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum.

Father Brian Boosel, assistant professor of history at the college, will present “Good Neighbors: Benedictine Monks Along the Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania” at 1 p.m. – the first in a series of lectures at the museum, on Route 30 near the highway 217 in Unity.

Over the years, numerous establishments have served tourists and other travelers along the highway, the first coast-to-coast connection for motorists.

St. Vincent has also been a destination for motorists – most recently before the covid pandemic, when fans came in droves to attend the Pittsburgh Steelers summer training camps in college.

But St. Vincent’s appeal to travelers began long before that, notes Lauren Koker, executive director of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor, headquartered at the museum.

“I was very surprised to learn from Father Brian that Lake St. Vincent was an artificial lake originally built to attract tourists in the 1920s,” says Koker. “There was even a boathouse on the lake.”

Just as the Lincoln Highway was the first national thoroughfare in the United States, St. Vincent became the first Benedictine college in the United States when it was founded in 1846 by Boniface Wimmer, an émigré priest from Bavaria.

The first Lincoln Highway had a different route in the vicinity of St. Vincent than that followed by present-day Route 30.

“The roster was totally different,” Koker explains. “From Youngstown it passed the Latrobe Country Club and cut off where the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport runway is.”

Due to the ongoing pandemic and Saint Vincent Archabbey’s requirements for members of his monastic community, the museum is asking all attendees to wear masks for Boosel’s speech and to practice social distancing.

Admission is $5. No reservation is required. Coffee and cookies will be provided for a small suggested donation.

Other lectures are planned at the museum this year.

York County’s Tom Davidson is expected to discuss the 1921 Golden Triangle Tour sometime in May.

In August, Ralph Scalise is set to talk about the history of Johnston House, the historic 19th-century farmhouse that houses part of the Lincoln Highway Experience museum.

For more information, contact Koker at [email protected] or 724-879-4241.

Jeff Himler is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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