The town of Ligonier was built by travelers.
In 1758, British troops built Fort Ligonier in the Allegheny Mountains as a resting place and supply station on the way to seize Fort Duquesne, occupied by the French at the “Forks of the Ohio” (now called Pittsburgh), during the French and Indian War. The French and Indians defeated the British several times near The Forks in the years leading up to the creation of Fort Ligonier. By the third attempt to capture Fort Duquesne, the British were more strategic in their approach. General John Forbes led an army of British and Colonial forces across hundreds of miles of wilderness to carve out a military route between Carlisle and Fort Duquesne known as Forbes Trail. Fort Ligonier, originally called the Post at Loyalhanna for its proximity to Loyalhanna Creek, was the last fort constructed on the route and ultimately enabled the British to prevail in the battle for Fort Duquesne on November 25, 1758.
Forbes Trail connected farms and cities across Pennsylvania. Supplies moved and commerce continued along the route in the decades that followed. Over time the trail transformed into highways and Fort Ligonier was a natural break in the journey. A local resident named John Ramsay laid out a street plan to attract travelers, and in 1834, Ligonier was incorporated as a borough.
The Ligonier Valley Railroad brought even more activity and trade to the town. The railroad, owned and operated by the Mellon family, also established Ligonier as a summer resort for Pittsburgh residents. The Diamond in the center of Ligonier grew from horses and wagons to a park with a bandstand. Hotels and lodging sprang up to cater to the traveling crowds. Idlewild Park opened in 1878 as a campground along the Ligonier Valley Railroad. Today, Idlewild is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania and the third oldest operating amusement park in the United States.
In 1913, the Lincoln Highway made travel from coast-to-coast possible by automobile. The highway stretched from New York to San Francisco and passed directly by Idlewild Park. Much of the historic Lincoln Highway became part of U.S. Route 30. Today, Route 30 (which follows the route of Forbes Trail) will take you past the beautifully reconstructed Fort Ligonier (*please note that Fort Ligonier is currently closed for construction and is scheduled to reopen on April 29, 2017) and the nationally recognized Idlewild amusement park. You can visit both attractions and learn more while exploring Ligonier on the Ligonier Valley Tagalong Tour. Ligonier remains one of the best places for travelers to stop since the thirteen colonies expanded westward.