Compass Inn Museum and Historic Site is a restored 19th century stagecoach stop along the original Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Turnpike. Originally built in 1799, Compass Inn captures the history of fast-paced stagecoach culture and the family history of seven generations of the Armor family who lived there.
The site features a fully functioning cookhouse and blacksmith shop along with a reconstructed barn containing a restored Conestoga Wagon and stagecoach. Compass Inn Museum was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 and sits along the Lincoln Highway.
In 1797, Laughlintown was founded by Robert Laughlin as a
small town which would grow to accommodate travelers along the Pennsylvania
State Road and later the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Roughly following the path of Forbes Road, the State Road was the first
official road stretch across Pennsylvania.
Situated at the foot of the Laurel Hill, the small town of Laughlintown
developed into a rest stop, boasting at least six inns and dozens of small
As the State Road deteriorated, the state made the decision
to construct a turnpike, primarily funded by private companies. It was during this time that Robert and
Rachel Armor came to Laughlintown and purchased what was then a log inn, which
was originally a drover’s inn. Situated
directly on the Turnpike, the couple saw the potential for increased business, made
the decision to expand the inn and added a stone wing, creating a higher class
Inn for stagecoach passengers.
Stagecoaches played a vital role in American history. The first form of mass communication and
transportation, it connected the young country through rapid travel times. By the 1830s, a stagecoach could make it from
Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in approximately 56 hours. Most stagecoaches adhered
to a strict schedule, as many carried the mail.
People relied on the stagecoaches and travelers to find out what was
happening in other parts of the country. Travel was crowded and uncomfortable, but
it was the fastest at the time.
Once at Compass Inn, passengers and drivers were able to
find everything they needed. The Inn and
family provided lodging and meals for the travelers, and a barn and blacksmith
shop were available to tend to the needs of the coach and horses. Inside the
tavern, the family worked hard to supply guests with the necessities. By our standards today, these taverns would
be dirty, uncomfortable places with a staff that wouldn’t go out of their way
to accommodate visitors. What made Compass Inn a nicer place was the use of a
sitting room, or ladies parlor in addition to the common room, and ample
sleeping space upstairs with beds for guests. Food would be provided in
Today, Compass Inn Museum captures the history of stagecoach
travel and the daily life of the 19th century. Guided tours take visitors through the inn,
which is filled with period furnishings, as well as the fully functioning
cookhouse and blacksmith shop. There is
also a reconstructed barn which houses a restored Conestoga Wagon and