Schellsburg's half-a-dozen blocks lie along U.S. 30 in a relatively level section of land initially settled by German, Scots-Irish, and Dutch pioneers in the late eighteenth century. The road generally follows the path traversed by General John Forbes's soldiers in the French and Indian wars of the 1750s. Later, in the 1820s, when private contractors built turnpikes to connect Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the stretch through Schellsburg was called the Bedford and Stoystown Turnpike. By 1860, the town was thriving. Finally, in 1913, the Lincoln Highway, part of a cross-continental auto roadway, was paved and assigned its number, U.S. 30. A handsome Graham-Paige dealership of 1929, the Colvin Garage at 3758 Main Street (now the Packard Gallery), is a maroon brick showroom surviving from the early days of automobile travel.
Schellsburg was laid out in 1808 by John Schell, who owned a large farm nearby; it was incorporated as a borough in 1837. Schell donated the land for the log Schellsburg Union Church, a German Evangelical Reformed and Lutheran congregation, whose cemetery surrounds the gable-roofed church (1806), one-half mile west of Schellsburg at Cemetery Lane. The interior contains original pews and a pulpit raised on a carved wooden stem, referred to as a “wineglass pulpit.” There were three hotels in Schellsburg, which today appear to be large, older houses facing U.S. 30. There are several brick five-bay houses with gable roofs, also facing the main street and dating from 1780 to 1880. Several of the houses have round-arched fanlights.
In the 1950s, the commonwealth took over several farms south of U.S. 30, and created a state park with Lake Shawnee as the centerpiece. The town's unspoiled appearance stems from the fact that its Main Street was never altered by the construction of a railroad through town.
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