A Great Town In Westmoreland County
by Karen Fetter
Ligonier, Pennsylvania, located at the intersection of
Routes 30 & 711 in Westmoreland County, is a quaint town
with a great history and beautiful scenery. It has a
turn-of-the-century atmosphere that is welcoming to both its
residents and visitors. The center of town features the
Diamond" with a bandstand that has come to be the symbol of
Ligonier History :
Ligonier Resources :
Ligonier Activities & Events
Whether you are visiting Ligonier for business or
pleasure, the atmosphere will make you want to return. The
store-lined streets and beautifully decorated sidewalks are
an alternative to shopping centers and malls. The wooded
scenery is enjoyable in all four seasons and has been a
constant attraction for many years. There is so much to see
and do. There is history, shopping, and scenic views. From
schools to churches and from restaurants to outdoor
activities, Ligonier has everything to offer. Its a step
away from the city that gives people a chance to slow down
and appreciate what is important to them.
Historic Ligonier Valley is the home of Fort Ligonier, Linn
Run State Park, Idlewild Park and Soak Zone, and the Compass
Inn. Not to mention the library, theater, art museum, and
YMCA located in the heart of the town. In addition, special
events are sprinkled throughout the year attracting visitors
to the historic town, especially its well-known Fort
Ligonier Days. Ligonier is also the location for the main
office of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, a non-profit
tourist promotion agency.
History of Ligonier
The town of Ligonier began in 1817 by John Ramsey. The
location was perfect for a stagecoach stop. Passengers could
obtain food and supplies in local stores and farmers could
trade their produce for supplies. The town at that time was
only about four blocks around the diamond. The town grew
slowly and became an incorporated borough in 1834, and
thrived as a shopping center for the farmers of the area.
Fort Ligonier represents a key engagement of the French and
Indian War that was fought on October 12, 1758 at this
location. The Fort has two periods: the first, being the
construction the original fort in 1758; and the second, the
revival of interest in the fort in the twentieth century and
its reconstruction in the 1960s through the year 2000.
About 1,200 French soldiers and only a few hundred
Indians attacked the British at Fort Ligonier. The French
and Indians experienced a heavy loss and fled. The British
troops, under Gen. Forbes and Col. Washington, pressed on
after the Ligonier victory. The French retired northward.
Therefore, Ligonier is called "the Key to the West in 1758."
The victory at Ligonier was the turning point for the
British. They went on to establish Fort Pitt and create
Pittsburgh, making mid-America English instead of French.
Fort Ligonier is a full-scale, on-site reconstruction of the
1758-1766 original. Activities include reenactments,
battles, encampments, folk crafts and archeological digs.
Reenactments and tours also take place during Fort Ligonier
Days in October.
Compass Inn Museum, listed on the National Register of
Historic Places, is an authentically restored stagecoach
stop. Located just three miles east of town, the structure
was built in 1799 in Laughlintown by Phillip Freeman. Robert
and Rachel Armor purchased the inn in 1814 and named it the
Compass Inn." The Inn was used as a stagecoach stop from
1820 until 1862. Afterwards the Armors closed the Inn to
guests but continued to live there for seven generations
until 1966 when it was sold to the Ligonier Valley
Historical Society who restored it to its 1820 condition.
The Historical Society sponsors Living History Weekends,
presents lectures covering people, places and events from
the past to the present, maintains a records and documents
room and a small local history library, and hosts popular
social events such as the holiday "Festival of Lights" &
"Tastes of the Town" showcasing culinary delights of local
Idlewild and Soak Zone
Named as the third oldest park in the country, Idlewild
Park, is a scenic familyoriented amusement park that offers
rides, swimming, entertainment, childrens activities, and
history. Built in 1878 by William Darlington, the area
started out as a picnic area that surrounded a train station
for travelers to and from Pittsburgh. The park has continued
to expand to include several new areas. Idlewild Park and
Soak Zone operates between May and September.
Linn Run State Park
Linn Run State Park is located in the heart of the Laurel
Mountains. It offers picnicking, fishing, horseback riding,
snowmobiling, cabin renting, hunting, and hiking. The land
ranges from 1,300 feet to 2,800 feet above sea level and
covers over 612 acres. The park also includes a small but
scenic waterfall called Adams Falls.
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The Ligonier Valley Library is located right in the center
of town around the diamond. It originally opened in 1945
with only 200 books. Now the collection has grown to over
55,000 items. A new childrens wing was added in 2001 to
accommodate the growing supply. Also, all files are
currently automated making searches for patrons much easier.
The facility is active with the community and offers a wide
array of activities such as a pre-school story hour, a
mystery book club, and a genealogy forum.
The Valley Players of Ligonier is a local theater that
offers weekly movie showings and live performances of a
variety of musicals and plays. It is also available for
rental. It is located at 210 West Main Street in the heart
The Ligonier Valley YMCA has offered services for over 20
years to the community. In addition to child care facilities
and special events, there are a number of programs available
such as swimming, golf, gymnastics, martial arts,
cheerleading, soccer, first aid, and health and fitness.
Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art
This branch located in the Ligonier Valley is housed in an
authentic log cabin design that reflects the historic
community. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens that are
maintained by a volunteer auxiliary. In addition to art
shows, exhibits, and childrens programs, the Walter Carlyle
Shaw Paperweight Collection is on permanent display.
Chamber of Commerce
Located in Town Hall on East Main Street, the Ligonier
Chamber of Commerce is one of the most active associations
within Ligonier. It is a voluntary association of concerned
business and professional people and other
community-spirited citizens who work together to help
Ligonier thrive as a community.
It organizes promotions such as sidewalk sales, the shopping
directory, and the shopping map. Also, it organizes and
manages many programs such as Fort Ligonier Days, summer
band concerts on the diamond, summer jobs for students,
Clean Up Week, the Corn Roast, Santa's Arrival, and
Christmas Lighting for the diamond. The Ligonier Chamber of
Commerce also acts as a "legislative watchdog," working
closely with the Town Council and township officials to
improve the quality of life in the entire Ligonier Valley.
Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau
This is the official tourist promotion agency for
Westmoreland, Somerset, and Fayette Counties. Its main
office is located in Town Hall in Ligonier. It guides
visitors to lodging, recreation, and events in the area.
This organization works closely with local businesses and
the Chamber of Commerce to promote the Ligonier Valley.
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Ligonier Activities and Events
For current dates on all activities, please visit:
The Ligonier Country Market
The Ligonier Country Market is open every Saturday morning
from 7:00 am until noon. Everything is sold from fresh
fruit, vegetables, and flowers to candles, quilts, and
jewelry. The market is located near the intersection of
Route 30 and West Main Street on the west end of town. The
Country Market ends for the season September 24th!
Fort Ligonier Days
Fort Ligonier Days, is a 3-day festival that commemorates
the Battle of Fort Ligonier that was fought on October 12,
1758. Fort Ligonier displays a living history encampment
showing frontier life, military tactics, drills, cannon
firing, ceremonies, Highlanders, redcoats, French troops,
frontier men and women, Indians and music from 1758. Also, a
re-enactment of the Battle of Fort Ligonier is on display at
2 & 4 pm Saturday and Sunday.
The Fort is not the only form of entertainment at Fort
Ligonier Days. A community parade marches down Main Street
and around the diamond at 11:00 AM on Saturday. It features
many bands, floats, antique cars, Indian and Colonial units,
clowns, horses, and Shrine units. There is also free outdoor
entertainment such as Civil War era music, Big Band music,
South American folk music, bagpipes and drums, footstompin'
bluegrass, and Gospel. There is also an old-fashioned band
concert on the diamond Sunday evening.
There is plenty of food available throughout the festival.
Dozens of community food booths line the diamond and other
locations throughout town. Sit-down meals are available at
several local churches.
Approximately 150 craft booths in 3 locations are linked by
shuttle bus service. Talented artisans display and sell
their wares including pewter figures, wicker and wood,
dolls, dried flowers, paintings & prints, stained glass,
jewelry, leather, baskets, pottery, and blacksmithing.
Guests are advised to follow the signs to designated parking
areas around town. No parking is allowed in town or
along Route 30 during the event. All official parking areas
are handicap accessible. Parking is $5.00 per car in
officially designated lots. Free shuttles are available to
main festival sites all day.
Antiques on the Diamond
Over 30 vendors come to Ligonier to sell various arts and
crafts. Booths line the diamond area and local merchants
offer sidewalk sales.
Ligonier Ice Fest
Blocks of ice are sculpted into amazing images
representative of businesses and clubs through the Ligonier
Valley. Kettle corn and music is also provided. The outdoor
fundraiser benefits the Chamber of Commerce.
Fall is one of the best times of year to experience
Ligonier. Shortly after Ligonier Days is Halloween and
Ligonier celebrates this holiday with a scarecrow contest.
Local clubs, organizations and businesses elaborately
decorate scarecrows that are placed on display around the
diamond. Voting is completed and a winner is awarded a
Summer Band Concerts
Sunday evenings are a perfect time to sit back and relax,
especially while enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the
diamond. Every Sunday evening through the summer months is a
live band concert open to the public. Bring your lawn chair
and relax as you experience different musical sounds.
Ligonier, Westmoreland County, PA
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