Samuel Lemon and his wife Jean moved to this mountain in 1826 and built a log tavern not far from here. As many as fifty Conestoga wagons a night camped at Lemon's first tavern on the old turnpike that crossed this gap.
Five years later, in 1831-32, after learning the Allegheny Portage Railroad would cross the summit here, Lemon built the impressive sandstone building in front of you. When the railroad opened in 1834, the "Lemon House" enjoyed a lively business serving food and drink to railroad passengers and workers. The tavern was on the main floor; the family lived upstairs.
In addition to his tavern trade, Lemon operated a profitable coal and lumber business. The coal mine shaft was located on the hillside behind you. The four-foot thick vein of coal provided power for the portage railroad's steam engines, and helped to make Samuel Lemon one of the wealthiest men in the Alleghenies. He died in 1867 at age 74.
The Lemon House about 1900 [in photo], nearly fifty years after the Allegheny Portage Railroad ceased operating. Ivy covers the wall above the main entrance. Note the water pump, hammock, and fruit trees with painted trunks in the front yard.
The Lemon House remained in the Lemon family until 1907. The National Park Service purchased the property in 1966. Today portions of the restored building are open to the public during scheduled hours.
About 1898 George W. Storm painted this interpretation of life here during the railroad's heyday. In the foreground, passengers return from the Lemon House to their coaches for the downhill trip to Johnstown.