While Pennsylvania is known historically for heavy industry, the state is not short of open country and small towns. Bedford is an example of such a small town, and it has retained many of its historical buildings. The first settlement here was a trading post set up by Robert MacRay in 1750 which he named Raystown. At the time, it was frontier territory, and Indian raids resulted in the trading post being abandoned. The British Army arrived in 1758 and they built Fort Bedford, named after the Duke of Bedford. The town that sprang up around it adopted the name of the fort. Nowadays Bedford has a population of just over 3,000 people.
Fort Bedford Museum
Fort Bedford was a star shaped log fortress built by the British in 1758 during the French and Indian War. It had relatively short active life as it was abandoned some time after the war ended in 1763. In 1769 it is alleged that it was occupied by Colonists as part of the Black Boys Rebellion, resulting in the rather fanciful claim that it was the first fort to fall in the American Revolution. It is not known when the fort was demolished, but Washington did not use it during the Whiskey Rebellion which suggests that it had gone by 1794. Fort Bedford Museum was built on the site in 1958 as a partial reconstruction of the fort and as a county museum.
Not everything in Bedford dates back to the 18th century. This Gulf Station in Pitt Street has an unusual Art Deco design. While there are several gas stations of this type remaining in the USA, they are now quite rare.
This house at 123 East Pitt Street was built by Colonel David Espy in 1766. In 1791 Congress put a tax on whiskey. Many of the farmers around Bedford distilled their grain into whiskey which they traded for food and clothing rather than selling it for cash. As they had no money, when the tax collectors arrived they refused to pay. The rebellion spread and Pittsburgh came close to being burned down. In 1794 President George Washington brought an army of over 12,000 men to Bedford to put down the ‘Whiskey Rebellion’. While based in the town Washington used Espy House as his headquarters. The rebel farmers quickly got the message, and Washington had proved that the rule of law had been established in the USA.
Former Union Hotel
There are plenty of old buildings in Bedford, but apart from Espy House we have not been able to find out a lot about them. This building was clearly once the Union Hotel but searches on the Internet have not told us anything about its history.
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Claycomb Covered Bridge
Bedford County is famous for covered bridges and this one is on the outskirts of the town. Claycomb Covered Bridge was built in 1880 near Reynoldsdale. Using a Burr Truss construction it has a single span of 38 metres (126 feet). It was moved to its current location in 1975 and it now provides access to an open air museum, Old Bedford Village. The village has nearly 40 old buildings including an octagonal school. Why no picture of the village? Unfortunately we were in Bedford the week before the village opened for the season at Memorial Day weekend.
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