A Lincoln Highway Driving Tour Through Franklin County
Travel Time: 6-8 hours (depending on how much time is spent at each location)
Travel Distance: Approximately 45 miles
This tour of historic Franklin county combines 250 years of history, culture, and beauty around scenic Route 30.
- Begin your trip at the westernmost end of Franklin County on Route 30 East near The Mountain House restaurant. Head east on Route 30 for less than a mile, then turn right onto Stoney Batter Road. Continue on Stoney Batter Road for approximately 4 miles, then turn right into BUCHANAN'S BIRTHPLACE STATE PARK. James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, remains the only president from Pennsylvania. Take about 30 minutes to walk around the 18.5 acre park and see the stone pyramid marker.
- Turn right out of BUCHANAN'S BIRTHPLACE STATE PARK onto Stoney Batter Road. In less than a mile, merge onto State Route 16 East toward Mercersburg and continue for approximately 3 miles until you arrive in downtown Mercersburg. Take a few minutes to see the Mercersburg Historic District and take pictures of the historic buildings. On the south side of town, turn left into MERCERSBURG ACADEMY and take 15 minutes to drive around campus. MERCERSBURG ACADEMY is a private co-ed college prep school with many notable alumni such as Olympic Gold Medalists, Academy Award winners, a Nobel Prize recipient, politicians, and more.
- When you're ready to move on, head north from downtown Mercersburg on State Route 75 for approximately 6 miles, then turn right onto Route 30 East. Continue on Route 30 East for approximately 2 mile, then turn right onto Brooklyn Road. Continue down Brooklyn Road for approximately 0.5 miles until you arrive at FORT LOUDOUN. Originally built by the Pennsylvania Provincial Regiment in 1756, FORT LOUDOUN was an essential supply depot during the Forbes Expedition of 1758. It provided shelter and protection for the men and provisions of the expedition as the Forbes Road was constructed across Pennsylvania toward the French-controlled Fort Duquesne. In 2018, construction began to recreate the fort. Take some time to look around and read the historical markers!
- Head back toward Route 30 on Brooklyn Road, then turn right onto Route 30 East. In approximately 3.5 miles, the CHAMBERSBURG AND BEDFORD TURNPIKE TOLL HOUSE can be seen on the left side of the road. The Tollhouse was built around 1818, and was added to the National Register in 1977.
- Continue on Route 30 East for approximately 7.5 miles until you arrive in Chambersburg. There are a number of places worth visiting in Chambersburg. Feel free to spend as much time exploring as you like, but a few of the notable stops include:
- MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN AND STATUE - The Memorial Fountain and Statue of Chambersburg is located at the intersection of Main Street and Lincoln Way. It was built to commemorate the town's role in the Civil War. Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and A.P. Hill made the decision to turn east to Gettysburg at the site where the fountain was erected. Chambersburg is also the only town north of the Mason-Dixon line to be burned down during the Civil War.
- THE CHAMBERSBURG HERITAGE CENTER and the FRANKLIN COUNTY VISITORS BUREAU are both located within a block of the Memorial Fountain. With exhibits on frontier, transportation, and Civil War history, both are excellent stops to learn and pick up souvenirs.
- THE JOHN BROWN HOUSE - from downtown Chambersburg, turn left onto S. 2nd St. then right onto E. King St. THE JOHN BROWN HOUSE is on the left. In 1859, the abolitionist John Brown boarded in this house while gathering arms, recruits, and supplies for his famous raid on Harpers Ferry.
- FRANKLIN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY and OLD JAIL - from downtown Chambersburg, turn left onto S. 2nd St. then left onto E. King St. The building is directly on the right after you make the turn. THE OLD JAIL, built in 1818, was in continuous use for 152 years and even survived the Confederate destruction of Chambersburg during the Civil War. The building also houses the historical society and museum of Franklin County.
- ROCKY SPRING CHURCH - from downtown Chambersburg, turn left onto S. 2nd Street. Immediately after merging with Philadelphia Ave., turn left at the stoplight onto W. Commerce St., then continue onto Edenville Road in approximately 1 mile. At the next fork, veer right onto Letterkenny Road and follow it for approximately 1 mile. Then, turn left onto Rocky Spring Road. In approximately 2 miles, ROCKY SPRING CHURCH is on the right. This historic church dates back to the 1730s with the present structure being built in 1794. During the American Revolution, the pastor gave a sermon urging the men of the church to join the Continental Army, and 17 of those men rose to officer ranks during the war!
- NELLIE FOX BOWL - Looking for something fun to do? From downtown Chambersburg, turn right on S. Main St. and follow Route 11 South for about 4 miles before turning right into the parking lot of NELLIE FOX BOWL. Nellie Fox, a native of nearby St. Thomas, was an MVP second baseman for the Chicago White Sox baseball team and in 1997 he was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame. In retirement, he co-owned and managed this bowling alley before dying of cancer in 1975. The Chicago White Sox retired Fox's jersey number "2" in 1976.
- After you have seen everything that you desire to see in Chambersburg, get back on Route 30 East. In about 10 miles, the THADDEUS STEVENS BLACKSMITH SHOP is on the left. In 1837, Thaddeus Stevens and his business partner erected this blacksmith shop as part of the Caledonia Iron Works. Stevens went on to serve in Congress, urging President Lincoln to pursue a policy of abolition and playing a prominent role in the drafting of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- After the Blacksmith Shop, turn left onto Pine Grove Road, then the entrance for CALEDONIA STATE PARK is on the left. Take an hour or so to explore the trails and sights. The park is named for the iron furnace that began operations in 1837. The Thaddeus Stevens Historic Trail includes many stops that describe how iron is extracted from iron ore. Other activities include: hiking, boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking, and camping. The Appalachian Trail also traverses the park. This hiking trail extends from Maine to Georgia for 2,180 miles and is the longest hiking trail in the world.
- When you're ready to continue, get back on Pine Grove Road and head south toward Route 30. Cross Route 30, then take a slight left turn onto Golf Course Road. In a few hundred feet, you'll see the TOTEM POLE PLAYHOUSE. Performances are scheduled from early June to early September. Notable past performers include: Jean Stapleton, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, John Ritter, and Melissa Gilbert.
- You have now completed your One-Day Itinerary through Franklin County!