With its roots in 1920 — back when Ford was still making the Model T — America’s oldest antique automobile museum has an astonishing collection. Its treasures include a 1903 Curved Dash Oldsmobile and a 1916 Scripps-Booth Town Car custom made for the athlete Eleanora Sears — one of the most striking cars you’ll ever see. The museum has not one Tucker but two, plus one of the VW Beetles that starred as “Herbie, the Love Bug.”
After Melvin Isett, a local entrepreneur, sold his cable-television company, he devoted himself to expanding a local-history collection that now fills multiple buildings with just about everything you can imagine. Farm equipment, mining tools, phonographs and early televisions, furniture, a vintage dentist’s office, a comprehensive collection of cameras, and much, much more. Plan to spend several hours. The guided tour costs the same as the self-guided version, but trust us — the tour guides are terrific.
The EBT’s invaluable volunteer organization worked for years to renovate the Old Post Office building in Robertsdale as a museum and library. The Old Post Office is across the tracks from the EBT’s Robertsdale station and across the street from what was the Rockhill Iron & Coal Co. office building, which houses the Post Office now. (The fourth corner of this so-called “company square” was home to a company store, since demolished.) The railroad recently lent the Friends three hopper cars which have been spotted on the scale track just above the station.
Delightful in both its breadth and its clutter, this museum tells multiple stories — of the miners from all over Europe who made their livelihoods and their homes on the Broad Top, of the two railroads that served it (the standard-gauge Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain was the other), and of the children who grew up here, attending school, playing baseball, marrying, celebrating holidays, and enduring good times and bad. Be sure to check out the lower level, where you’ll find both a projector from the nearby Reality Theater and a recreation of a mine interior. A must-see!
Housed in a former bank a stone’s throw from the main EBT crossing in Three Springs, this historical society has a large collection of intensely local artifacts. Among other surprises is an entire closet of marching-band uniforms from the decades before the Southern Huntingdon High School was built in the early 1960s to consolidate several local high schools.
For decades, three big plants in Mount Union manufactured refractory brick, also known as firebrick, for lining kilns and furnaces. Hence the name “Bricktown.” Several years ago the Bricktown Model Railroaders Association began renovating a spacious former warehouse to serve as its new home. Since then additional historical displays have been added (to say nothing of the popular Halloween Haunted House).
With regular hours all summer, the Farm Museum is a fond tribute to the history of American agricultural practices. But tucked in among the tractors and apple-peelers and kids’ toys are all manner of other antiques, from license plates to typewriters. For maximum effect, visit during the week of the Huntingdon County Fair so you can walk through the dairy barn, visit the pigs and bunnies, see prize-winning tomatoes and cakes, ride the Ferris wheel, and sample deep-fried foods of every description.
This spectacular Greek Revival mansion was designed for Elias Baker, the ironmaster of the nearby Allegheny Furnace, by a Baltimore architect named Robert Cary Long, Jr. It was completed in 1849 and occupied by family members until 1914. It’s been a museum since 1922, operated by the Blair County Historical Society, and is now undergoing significant interior restorations. When you visit, note that the front facade has two-story fluted Ionic columns, while the back has square stone columns supporting a second-story porch.
The current Palmer Museum, opened in 1993, is a Postmodern masterpiece by the architect Charles W. Moore, assisted by Arbonies King Vlock. The university’s extensive collection is as terrific as the building, with both classical and contemporary gems and a vast gallery of glass works by Dale Chihuly. For extra credit on the exam, seek out the nearby campus building from which Moore took design cues — the 1902 Respiration Calorimeter, where researchers studied the energy metabolism of cattle, producing countless scientific papers that remain mainstays of agricultural scholarship. Or just visit the Berkey Creamery and taste this agricultural college’s ice creams, cheeses, and salamis.
Discovered in 1930 during the construction of Route 22, Lincoln Caverns has been operated by the Dunlavy family since the following year. Guided tours (“naturally fun!”) last about an hour and traverse two caverns filled with crystals, stalactites, flowstones, and more. Lincoln Caverns also hosts a number of special events throughout the year, from scouting camporees to blacklight adventures — there’s even “Batfest”!
Our go-to source for advice on area biking, hiking, and kayaking is Rothrock Outfitters, 418 Penn Street in Huntingdon (814-643-7226). They sell maps and can arrange kayak outings or repair your bike.
Operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, this long and winding reservoir is enormously popular among people who enjoy motorboats and fishing. Surrounding the lake are campgrounds and 36 miles of mountain-bike trails. The current dam, completed in 1973, not only creates the lake and controls downstream flooding but also feeds a 21-megawatt hydroelectric generating station.
Constructed so that workers could commute to the ganister-rock quarries on Jacks Mountain, the Thousand Steps are now a popular hiking destination with terrific views and, at the top, ruins of a tiny railroad that served the quarries. One website describes the 1,036-step climb as equal to a one-hour Stairmaster workout.
Opened in 1989 to a design by the architect Maya Lin, Juniata College’s Peace Chapel is a simple, compelling ring of 53 stones on a grassy summit in the 315-acre Baker-Henry Nature Preserve. The chapel is accessible on foot or by bike (but be prepared to climb). The preserve is crisscrossed by hiking and biking paths — some broad and easy, others narrow and steep — following a ridge above the city of Huntingdon.
This 16.5-mile hiking/biking trail west of Alexandria offers both easy exercise and plenty of local history. Beginning in 1833, its route alongside the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River was that of the Pennsylvania Main Line canal from the Susquehanna to Hollidaysburg. One mostly complete lock and other canal relics remain, but after it closed in the early 1870s, the canal was almost entirely obliterated by the construction of a Pennsylvania Railroad branch line along much of the same route (the railroad even reused the abutments and pier of a canal aqueduct). The trail is named for a benefactor, T. Dean Lower, whose last name is pronounced to rhyme with “flower.”
The Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain Railroad was a standard-gauge line serving coal mines on the west side of the Broad Top. Over 10 miles of the route, between Riddlesburg and Tatesville, are now a hiking/biking trail with great views and occasional glimpses of history. The most spectacular remnant of the railroad is the High Bridge at Cypher, a 1937 deck-truss structure on which the trail crosses the Raystown Branch of the Juniata.