Bedford county was part of two firsts in highway construction.
Paved highways were unusual until automobiles started becoming popular. City streets might be paved, but between cities and towns, the roads were often impassable for cars. A plan was formulated to begin paving highways which led to the "Lincoln Highway," later known as U.S. Route 30. It was the first paved highway in the nation, and served as the main route for east to west travel in the U.S. It traveled through the heart of Bedford County, in fact following mostly the Forbes Road cut by English General Forbes in 1758. It remains today as the major road for east to west travel in Bedford County.
In the 1930's, the paved highway was taken to the next - and present - level with the decision to build the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This was to be a limited access, super highway. The first in the nation, and a prototype for the modern highways and interstate system of today.
The decision was not greeted with enthusiasm by county residents. Two interchanges were planned in the county, and people saw them as a threat to their quiet way of life and scenic countryside. Bedford lost their battle to keep an interchange away. Everett, however, won their battle. The interchange was moved to Breezewood, which changed this tiny, sleepy, village into a major mecca for travelers. Interstate 70 from the Baltimore - Washington area and U.S. Route 30 both meet the turnpike at Breezewood.
In a way, the people who objected were right. The turnpike interchanges did bring changes in their way of life. However, most changes were beneficial. Instead of traffic bypassing the county, many stop at its restaurants and motels. The interchanges also serve as a funnel for tourists whose destination is Bedford County. Many businesses use the highways for quick access to markets, and the trucking industry boomed in the county for many years. Finally, employment opportunities are very high in the travel - related businesses.
Modern Bedford county remains very rural, but also modern. In 1951, The Memorial Hospital of Bedford County opened, replacing the small, private hospitals in Everett and Bedford. The Turnpike interchanges continue to spur traveler-based businesses. Tourism remains very important. Old Bedford Village is a reconstructed pioneer settlement using actual buildings brought in from all over the county, and Bedford's Fall Foliage Festival, held the first 2 weekends in October, brings in people from near and far for arts, crafts, and entertainment.
Industry that has been attracted includes Kennemetal, Hedstrom, JLG, Everite Door Co., Seton Industries, and Creative Pultrusions, to go along with locally owned industries such as New Enterprise Stone and Lime Corporation.
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