A Great Town In Westmoreland County
by Karen Fetter
The City of Latrobe is a town filled with the pride of
its residents. Located in the foothills of the Laurel
Mountains between Greensburg and Ligonier, this city offers
both a small town feel and the benefits of an urban area.
Many long-time residents have shown great civic pride, which
makes the area such a friendly and safe place to live.
Latrobe Activities & Events
Latrobe offers something for everyone. There are several
parks located nearby that offer hiking, hunting, and outdoor
activities. Latrobe also offers culture and entertainment
through Saint Vincent College's Theater and the Latrobe Art
Center. Traveling into Latrobe should never be a problem
either. Amtrak service is available at the restored train
station landmark located downtown. Also, Arnold Palmer
Regional Airport offers more than commuter flights. Since
its partnership with Northwest Airlines, flights can be
scheduled to destinations all over the country.
Latrobe features top-rated schools, a low crime rate, and
inexpensive housing. These are just a few of the qualities
that make Latrobe an ideal place to live.
Latrobe is one city in Westmoreland County that
truly contributed to this county culture and heritage.
Two major celebrity icons have grown up in Latrobe Fred Rogers and Arnold Palmer, both graduates of
Latrobe High School. Latrobe is the hometown of the
Latrobe Brewing Company and Rolling Rock Beer, the first
Banana Split, the first scheduled
airmail pickup, and is the location of
Saint Vincent Basilica and College, where the Pittsburgh
Steelers Training Camp is held annually. Needless to say,
residents have a reason to feel pride about
History of Latrobe
The first explorer to record his journey to the area that
is now known Latrobe was Christopher Gist about 250 years
ago. It was in 1852 that civil engineer Oliver Barnes laid
out the plans for the community that would be incorporated
in 1854 as the Borough of Latrobe.
The change from Borough to City came about as the result
of a Home Rule study. The history behind the name of
Latrobe, which is appropriately pronounced La Trobe, came
from Barnes best friend and college classmate, Benjamin
Latrobe, who was a civil engineer for the B&O Railroad. Its
location along the route of the Pennsylvania Railroad helped
Latrobe develop into a significant industrial hub.
The Banana Split
While this treat is very tasty, few may know how it began.
Of course, many resident of Latrobe can proudly tell anyone
who asks. Pharmacist David Strickler created the worlds
first banana split in 1904 at his drug store. The delightful
treat has one scoop each of chocolate, strawberry and
vanilla ice cream with a banana split in half along the
sides. Each scoop is topped with a serving of chocolate,
strawberry, or pineapple topping and then finished off with
whipped cream and a cherry. First patrons of the treat were
actually Saint Vincent College students. Now the dessert can
be found anywhere ice cream is served.
Saint Vincent College & the Pittsburgh Steelers
Latrobe has a connection with professional football since
the time of its conception in the 1890s. Latrobe native John
Brallier was one of the earliest players to play football
professionally. Also, the Latrobe Athletic Association was
the first team that was made up of professional players to
play a full season of football. But in addition to this
piece of significant history, Saint Vincent College is also
the site that hosts the Steelers Training Camp each year.
Fans come to watch the players before the season begins and
are able to take part in games and activities along with the
opportunity to get free autographs from the players. This
annual event is one that many Latrobe natives look forward
to each year.
Fred Rogers was born in Latrobe in 1928. He joined the WQED
staff in Pittsburgh in 1953 and dedicated his time to
children's programming. His show Mister Rogers Neighborhood
was available nationally in 1968 and has been seen by
children everyday. Characters like Lady Elaine, King Friday,
and Henrietta Pussycat became household names. The same
values and environment that Fred grew up with in Latrobe are
reflected in his shows. He also received the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, the nations highest civilian honor.
Needless to say, Latrobe is proud to identify with Fred
Latrobe is the birthplace to golf legend Arnold Palmer. He
began golfing at a young age and was a caddy from age
eleven. He became professional in 1954. Arnold won 92
championships including four Masters Tournaments, two
British Opens, and one U.S. Open. His popularity contributed
to the interest in golf during the 1960s and is a great
source of pride for Latrobe.
Another great part of Latrobe history is Rolling
Rock Beer. Rolling Rock began in 1939 by brewing beer from
the mountain springs. The amber beverage came in green
bottles with the mystery number 33 printed on them. It was
the most recognized consumer product produced in Latrobe by
Latrobe Brewing Company, formerly a division of Labatt's
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Adams Memorial Library
The first library in Latrobe originally began in 1927 as the Latrobe Public
Library. The library was an instant success and continued to expand each
year at its location in the Masonic Building. However, George Hamilton Adams
recorded in his will that he would like to donate money to provide a new
building for the library, which was done in 1954. As an honor to Adams the
library was renamed the Adams Memorial Library. It offers a wide range of
services for its patrons such as free internet access, CD-ROMs, audio books,
videos, large print books, magazines, newspapers, microfilm, and a high
circulation of books. There is also a children's book room and several
programs offered to adults and children. Furthermore, there are branches of
the library at other area locations, and a Bookmobile that travels through
the area making many stops.
Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
There is much history behind the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. It had its
beginnings in the early 1920s when it was first used by Charles B. Carroll.
In 1919, Carroll established a permanent flying field in the area at the
intersection of the Lincoln Highway and Manito Road (Now Route 30 and Route
981). This location was ideal because of the two major highways and the
proximity to the railroad and nearby towns. The airfield was called Longview
Flying Field and opened in 1924. Then it became the site of the worlds first
scheduled airmail pickup by All American Aviation on May 12, 1939. The
airport flourished and was officially purchased by Latrobe Borough in 1950.
The airport continued to expand and change ownership over the years. In 1999
it was renamed for Arnold Palmer on his 70th birthday. Today, the airport
manages 50,000 aircraft departures and landings per year.
Latrobe-Unity Parks and Recreation
A board oversees Legion-Keener Park, which features a 1
mile fitness trail with a one mile extension, sponsors activities year-round
for children and adults including basketball, baseball, softball, tennis,
volleyball, soccer, hockey, swimming, archery, science and nature, yoga, and
gymnastics. There is also a popular children's area called Playland that was
community designed and constructed.
Saint Vincent College and Monastery
Brother Boniface Wimmer founded Saint Vincent College in
1846. Wimmer was a Benedictine monk from Germany who wanted
to provide education for the sons of German immigrants and
to train clergy. He established the first Benedictine
college in the United States.
The campus was built by monks on 200 acres of
countryside. Today the college and monastery continue to be
sponsored by the monks, which is also shared by the seminary
and Saint Vincent Parish. The College has continued to
expand and offers undergraduate and graduate level courses.
Also on the campus is the Summer Theater where professional
and student performances can be seen.
Latrobe Area Historical Society
The Latrobe Area Historical Society has taken great lengths to
preserve the history of this colorful town. Volunteers and workers have
recreated a replica general store and classroom to illustrate life in the
early 1900s. Also photos, books and other documents are preserved in its
location within the Latrobe Elementary School in downtown Latrobe. However,
plans are being made to move the location to Route 981 in 2006.
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Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce
The Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce is supported by the voluntary
memberships of businesses, industries, professionals, and other
organizations and individuals in the community. Members contribute their
input to the development of the Chamber's Business Plan, and then work with
Chamber staff and other member volunteers to accomplish the tasks. Services
offered by the Chamber include a business and industry expo, community
awareness programs, economic education programs, an annual dinner, a monthly
radio show and several networking opportunities.
Historically, the Latrobe area is known for its
production of carbide. The top two manufacturers are
Kennametal, Inc. and Newcomer Products, Inc. Timken
Specialty Steel in Latrobe is a high-quality specialty steel
maker offering more than 300 grades of high-speed, tool and
die, high-strength, corrosion-resistant and bearing steels.
There are many more thriving businesses in the area that
produce a wide variety of materials. Latrobe offers quality
labor and access to convenient transportation, which helps
local businesses succeed.
Latrobe Area Hospital (Excela Health Services)
Health care and human services employ a significant
number of area residents. As the area's largest business,
Latrobe Area Hospital employs over 1,500 people at its main
location and 6 community health care centers. Physicians,
Dentists, and other health care providers have professional
offices located throughout the Latrobe area.
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Latrobe Activities and Events
For current dates on all activities, please visit
Latrobe has one major event each year that attracts visitors
from all over Westmoreland County. It is the annual
Latrobe 4th of July Celebration. This event is from July 1 -4 with activities planned throughout the town. Such
activities include a Miss Fourth of July Pageant,
Firecracker Frolic, the Rolling Rock 5 Mile Run, baking
contests, festival food, arts and crafts, musical
performances, a parade, and a fireworks display. This event
is always a success and invites many residents and visitors
to participate in celebrating the nations birthday.
In addition to the Fourth of July Celebration, Latrobe also
celebrates many holidays and seasons with parades including
Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Halloween. Visit
the Chamber of Commerce's website to find out specific dates
for each parade.
Latrobe offers Sunday night band concerts in Legion-Keener
Park during the summer, a visit with Santa Clause after
Thanksgiving, and arts and crafts festivals in the spring
Latrobe is always a great place to visit.
Latrobe, Westmoreland County, PA
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