Ephrata, Pennsylvania: Wikis


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Main Street during the Ephrata Fair
Official name: Borough of Ephrata
Named for: Ephrath
Country  United States
State  Pennsylvania
County Lancaster
Elevation 358 ft (109 m)
Coordinates 40°10′51″N 76°10′57″W / 40.18083°N 76.1825°W / 40.18083; -76.1825
Area 3.6 sq mi (9 km2)
 - land 3.6 sq mi (9 km2)
 - water 0.0 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 13,213 (2000)
Density 3,672.7 /sq mi (1,418 /km2)
Incorporated August 22, 1891
Mayor Ralph Mowen
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 17522
Area code 717
Local phone exchanges 721, 733, 738
Location of Ephrata in Lancaster County
Location of Ephrata in Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States
Wikimedia Commons: Ephrata, Pennsylvania
Website: www.ephrataboro.org

Ephrata (pronounced /ˈɛfrətə/ EF-rə-tə) is a borough in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States, 38 miles (61 km) south east of Harrisburg and about 57 miles (92 km) west by north of Philadelphia. It is named after Ephrath, a biblical town in what is now Israel. Ephrata's sister city is Eberbach, Germany, the city where its founders originated. Ephrata is not a place known for manufacturing, though there has been, and still is, some small industry. In its early history, Ephrata was a pleasure resort and an agricultural community. It is also home to the famous wooden pillow.

Ephrata's population has steadily grown over the last century. In 1900, 2,452 people lived there, in 1910, 3,192, and by 1940, the population had increased to 6,199. The population was 13,213 at the 2000 census.



Ephrata is noteworthy for having been the former seat of the Mystic Order of the Solitary, a semimonastic order of Seventh-Day Dunkers. The community, which contained both men and women, was founded by Johann Conrad Beissel in 1732.

Many of the members were well-educated; Peter Miller, second prior of the monastery, translated the Declaration of Independence into seven languages, at the request of Congress. At the period of its greatest prosperity the community contained nearly 300 persons.[1][2]


The surroundings of Ephrata are primarily rural in nature

Ephrata is located at 40°10′51″N 76°10′57″W / 40.18083°N 76.1825°W / 40.18083; -76.1825 (40.17870, -76.17744)[3].

Like the rest of the county, it is mostly flat land suitable for farming.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2), of which, 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2) of it is land and 0.28% is water.


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 13,213 people, 5,477 households, and 3,565 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,672.7 people per square mile (1,417.1/km²). There were 5,672 housing units at an average density of 1,576.6/sq mi (608.3/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 96.10% White, 0.64% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.06% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 0.82% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races. 2.75% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,477 households out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.6% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.9% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the borough the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 32.1% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.7 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $41,550, and the median income for a family was $48,213. Males had a median income of $35,095 versus $22,782 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $19,659. About 3.7% of families and 6.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.5% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.


Ephrata has a mix of large and small businesses of many types.


Ephrata has a diverse mix of churches and faith groups. Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Lincoln section of Ephrata is one of the oldest.

Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church began life in New Ephrata, Pennsylvania on February 13, 1852. Members of the Lutheran and German Reformed Friedens Church resolved to erect a Union Church on Apple Street to serve both congregations and were known as Friedens Union Church. The facility was used by both congregations, but on alternating Sundays.

As time passed and both churches grew, the single facility became too small. A Board of Appraisers evaluated the property and an offer of $600.00 was made by the Reformed congregation and accepted by the Lutheran congregation to purchase the existing property. Ground was purchased on Main Street for a new Lutheran Church and excavation began in late November 1901. The new facility was dedicated September 7, 1902.

For many years, a minister served more than one parish. Over the years the same minister served Emmanuel, Jerusalem, White Oak (Penryn), Manheim, Muddy Creek and Swamp as well as Salem, a group of seven churches. A later grouping of parishes was Salem, Swamp, St. John’s and Mellingers. These groupings changed as membership and other needs changed. In 1963 Salem became a one church parish and remains so today.In 1913, it was decided to preach in German every six weeks instead of every 4 weeks. 1913 also saw the church wired for electricity. The fixtures were updated in 1934 and 1938 saw the regular use of bulletins. The educational annex was added in 1958. This included adding indoor plumbing. Educational facilities were again enlarged in 1974 with the addition of a classroom and study for the pastor.

In 1993 a 2-story addition that included classrooms, Church Office, Pastor’s Study, Nursery, Alter Care Room, Kitchen and Fellowship Hall was added.The congregation began celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly at both Sunday Services in December 2000. 2002 saw the Celebration of 150 years of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church with commemorative services and many other special events.

Public Services

The Ephrata Public Library ([1]), located on South Reading Road, is a member of the Library System of Lancaster County. The students in Ephrata attend the Ephrata Area School District which maintains one high school called Ephrata High School.

Law and government

Ephrata Borough Hall
The Pioneer Fire Company and the Veterans of Foreign Wars facility

Ephrata is a borough. The current mayor of Ephrata is Mayor Ralph Mowen. His term expires in December 2013.

The name 'Ephrata' is also used to refer to the surrounding Ephrata Township, Pennsylvania.

The Ephrata area, as well as most of Lancaster County, is usually described as a Republican stronghold, rarely electing Democrats.[citation needed]

Elected Officials Representing Ephrata

Notable residents

Sites of interest

Museums and historic sites

The Ephrata Main Theater
  • Eicher Arts Center – Occupies Conrad Beissel's historic Eicher House. It also contains an Indian (Native American) museum and shop.
  • Ephrata Cloister
  • Main Theater – The Main Theater, built by the Stiefel brothers, held its grand opening Christmas Day in 1938. The first film to show was Just Around The Corner starring Shirley Temple. In 1990, the Denver and Ephrata Telephone Company purchased the theater to restore the building and once again provide movies and live productions to the area, with many original fixtures incorporated into the renovated venue.[5] The theater reopened November 12, 1993.
  • Mountain Springs Hotel – The site of the former hotel stands at the corner of Main Street (U.S. Route 322) and Spring Garden Street. Unoccupied for a long period of time, it was torn down in 2004, except for a small portion of the original building, which was preserved and renovated to be used as a conference center and, possibly, as a museum. A Hampton Inn was constructed at the site in September 2005. An Applebee's restaurant was also built, and there are plans for an office building.

Area attractions

  • The Ephrata Fair – Now the largest street fair in Pennsylvania, the fair dates back to October 1919, when local businessmen organized a one-day festivity to commemorate World War I veterans. Over the following years, the fair grew to include farmers celebrating the harvest; and it also grew in duration by several days. The popular parade was added in 1932. Today, the fair is held for five days during every September and attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year.[6]

Sister city

Ephrata has one sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International:


On Sunday, March 29, 2009, a strong storm briefly swept through Ephrata. On March 31, the National Weather Service confirmed that it was an EF1 tornado. Although there were no fatalities, 30 homes were damaged and 8 mobile homes were destroyed.[7]


  1. ^ Gibbons, Phebe Earle (1872). Pennsylvania Dutch and Other Essays. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott. OCLC 128259577. http://digital.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/t/text/text-idx?idno=31735054778513;view=toc;c=darltext. 
  2. ^ Sachse, Julius Friedrich (1899-1900). The German Sectarians of Pennsylvania: A Critical and Legendary History of the Ephrata Cloister and the Dunkers. Philadelphia: Printed for the author. OCLC 2030149. 
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "The Main Theater". Borough of Ephrata. 2008-12-19. http://www.ephrataboro.org/ephrataboro/cwp/view.asp?a=1&Q=467204. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  6. ^ "About Us". Ephrata Fair. http://www.ephratafair.org/about_us.htm. 
  7. ^ "National and Local Weather Forecast, Hurricane, Radar and Report" (Flash video). Weather.com. 2009-03-31. http://www.weather.com/multimedia/videoplayer.html?clip=13919. 

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