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Where railroads once rolled: the Ligonier Valley, PA

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Take a drive forty miles east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania along U.S. Route 30, commonly known as the Lincoln Highway, and you will find yourself in the Ligonier Valley which is named for the town of Ligonier. As you drive by, you see nothing by a highway passing through a valley bypassing the town of Ligonier. What you do not see is the rail line that was once here.
Beginning in 1877, a short line with passenger and freight rail service served the town of Ligonier and many other towns in the valley. Ligonier was the eastern terminus while Latrobe was the western terminus where it connected with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Merchants used to line to haul freight, and many passengers used the line to get away from the bustling steel factories of Pittsburgh to relax in the serenity of Ligonier Valley. Idle Wild Amusement Park was soon established to help increase passenger traffic on the line. Unfortunately, in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, industry began to decline along the line, and there was a proposal to build the Lincoln Highway through the valley. The line ceased operations in the summer of 1952.
Today, as you drive along U.S. 30 through Ligonier, you see no evidence of a rail line that was once there. Idle Wild, the Oakville Station, the terminal in Ligonier and the Darlington Station are the only things that remain from the line. Idle Wild is now Idlewild. The Train Station still exists in its original location. It first was used as a first aid station but is now part of a larger building in the park. (You can get information from the park at www.idlewild.com.) The Oakville Station is now a private residence not open to the public. The terminal in Ligonier, located just a few blocks from the center of the town, is now used by the Ligonier Board of Education. (It was previously used by the Pennsylvania Game Board.) The Darlington Station, located three miles west of Ligonier, now houses the Ligonier Valley Railroad Museum that is open to the public. It has numerous photos and artifacts about the Ligonier Valley Rail Road and a model train display. You can get information about the museum and about the Ligonier Valley Rail Road Association at www.lvrra.org.
Ligonier Valley is a four hour drive from Washington D.C. U.S. 30 passes through the valley, or you can take the Pennsylvania Turnpike which passes south of the region.
Bill Potthoff of the Ligonier Valley Rail Road Association contributed to this article to include the information about the station at Idlewild and the Ligonier Terminal.

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