Lewistown, Pennsylvania: Wikis


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Lewistown, Pennsylvania
—  Borough  —
The post office in Lewistown
Lewistown, Pennsylvania is located in Pennsylvania
Lewistown, Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 40°35′51″N 77°34′24″W / 40.5975°N 77.57333°W / 40.5975; -77.57333
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Mifflin
Settled 1790
Incorporated 1795
 - Type Borough Council
 - Mayor Deborah Bargo
 - Total 2.0 sq mi (5.2 km2)
Elevation 520 ft (158 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 8,998
 - Density 4,466.3/sq mi (1,728.4/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Zip code 17044
Area code(s) 717
School district: Mifflin County School District
Local phone exchanges: 242, 247, 248, 363

Lewistown is a borough in and the county seat of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, United States.[1] It lies along the Juniata River, 61 miles (98 km) northwest of Harrisburg. The number of people living in the borough in 1900 was 4,451; in 1910, 8,166; and in 1940, 13,017. The population was 8,998 at the 2000 census. It is the principal borough of the Lewistown Micropolitan Statistical Area.[2] Of the four communities in the United States named "Lewistown", this borough is the largest.



Early history

The borough was incorporated in 1795 and was named for William "Bill" Lewis, a Quaker and a member of the legislature, who was responsible for the designation of the borough, which was then known as the Village of Ohesson, as the county seat of Mifflin County.

During the late 19th century Mifflin County became the crossroads of the Commonwealth. Located near the geographic center of the state, the area became a hub for traffic moving in every direction.

Early roads crisscrossed the region, but it was the eventual construction of the Pennsylvania Canal and the railroads that followed that truly positioned Mifflin County as an economic force in the state.

Lewistown, as the major city in Mifflin County saw its economy expand dramatically as entrepreneurs launched companies to construct canal boats or build inns offering lodging for travelers and workers.

At its zenith, Mifflin County was one of the busiest centers for cargo and passenger traffic in the United States. But with the demise of the canal system, Mifflin County eventually lost its place as a major transportation hub.

American Civil War

On April 16, 1861, Lewistown sent its Logan Guards, a militia group originally formed in 1858, to Washington, D.C. for its defense. They were one of only five companies, all recruited in Pennsylvania, to share the honor of being the first U.S. troops sent to the capital. Monument Square, situated at the intersection of Main and Market Streets in Lewistown, serves as a memorial to these men.

Tropical Storm Agnes

Lewistown lost its role as a major transportation hub, but still boasted a strong industrial economy until the early 1970s when the county's industries began a slow decline. A ruinous natural event in June 1972 would cripple the local economy and Lewistown has never recovered.

One June 19, Agnes made initial landfall along the Florida Panhandle as a weak Category 1 Hurricane. Agnes then proceeded through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina before she moved back over the Atlantic off the North Carolina coast on June 21.

After regaining strength over the Atlantic, she made landfall again over southeastern New York on June 22 and moved westward in an arc over southern New York into north-central Pennsylvania. She became nearly stationary over Pennsylvania by morning of June 23, but was soon absorbed by a low-pressure system that slowly drifted northeastward from Pennsylvania into New York.

Rainfall from storm over the Mid-Atlantic region ranged from 2-3 inches in the extreme upper basins of the Potomac and North Branch Susquehanna Rivers to 18 inches (460 mm) near Shamokin, Pennsylvania, in the Main Stem Susquehanna River basin. An average of 6-10 inches of rain fell over the Mid-Atlantic region. The soil, already well watered by spring rains, could not absorb so much water so quickly.

While flooding from the Juniata River was somewhat controlled due to a dam at Raystown Lake, 44 miles (71 km) west of Lewistown, the county experienced extensive flooding from the river and major streams which resulted in the permanent closure of many businesses along the river. Most notably, the flood submerged much of the American Viscose Plant, then a division of FMC Corporation. The facility, located on the banks of the Juniata River across from Lewistown proper, manufactured rayon fiber (primarily for rayon-belted automobile tires), polyester and Avistrap.

FMC was one of two major employers in the area at the time, the other being the Standard Steel Works. The "Viscose" plant was only marginally profitable before the storm and the cost to reopen was prohibitive. (Ironically, the demand for rayon fabric for trendy clothing shot upward only a few years later.) Rayon production, and with it, thousands of good-paying jobs, moved to another FMC plant in Front Royal, Virginia. The Lewistown polyester plant reopened, but it rehired only a fraction of the previous workforce. The site eventually became the Mifflin County Industrial Plaza and a variety of businesses have come and gone since then.

Present day

While Lewistown did receive the prestigious All-American City award in 1973 for its rebuilding process following the disaster, many of the blue collar workforce left the area to head south, along with the companies which chose not to rebuild in Lewistown.

Lewistown is home to the Pennsylvania State Fire School, which is the only such facility in the state. Firefighting in Lewistown is very important, as volunteer firefighters have strong allegiance to the multiple independent fire companies in the borough to which they devote their time.

Today Lewistown is still looking to rebuild, but is now overshadowed by nearby State College. Due to the growth of Penn State and the construction of a new highway system, Lewistown is now struggling to avoid becoming the last rest stop for travelers coming from the east on their way to State College.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.2 km²), all of it land.


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 8,998 people, 4,023 households, and 2,281 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,466.3 people per square mile (1,728.4/km²). There were 4,515 housing units at an average density of 2,241.1/sq mi (867.3/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 97.51% White, 0.96% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 0.66% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.13% of the population.

There were 4,023 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.3% were non-families. 38.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the borough the population was spread out with 23.1% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 19.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 83.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.2 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $21,568, and the median income for a family was $30,606. Males had a median income of $26,812 versus $19,523 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $14,733. About 16.4% of families and 21.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.6% of those under age 18 and 16.8% of those age 65 or over.

Historical buildings in the Lewistown Borough


Lewistown is not unlike any other small American town that has a passion for sports. Though geographically closer to the Maryland city of Baltimore, the residents are almost equally divided in supporting the Pennsylvania professional sports teams from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. At the college level, with State College being located about 30 miles (48 km) north of Lewistown, a good percentage of the town support the Penn State Nittany Lions. People of Lewistown also support youth sports. The area hosts a youth soccer tournament called Clash of the Cleats. The tournament attracts youth soccer clubs throughout Pennsylvania, and now is starting to attract teams from neighboring states. The Little League, Babe Ruth, and American Legion baseball teams grace the front pages of the local newspaper throughout the summer. And in the fall, the youth football programs spark rivalries between the smaller communities that surround Lewistown.

High school sports

The 2005 "Iron Kettle Game" between Lewistown (blue) and Indian Valley (white). Photo by Frank DiGiorgino

Lewistown Area High School, nicknamed the Panthers, compete in PIAA District 6, at the Class AAA level. The Panthers have recently won PIAA Championships in Baseball and Girls’ Basketball. In fact, in 1997 Lewistown Area High joined a very small list of Pennsylvania schools to have both their Girls’ and Boys’ basketball teams reach the state championship game in the same season. The Lady Panther basketball team has been consistently ranked among the Top 10 teams in the state. Lewistown has an excellent wrestling program, with the 2006 squad finishing 8th in the state.

In the 2007 baseball season, the Panthers finished the regular season with a 9-9 record. The Panthers went on to win 3 straight district playoff games to earn the 2007 district championship while defeating cross town rival Indian Valley in the process. The team went on to lose in the state quarterfinals to eventual AAA State Champion Punxsutawny.

Iron Kettle

The "Iron Kettle" is a black Kettle trophy that is awarded to the winner of the annual football game between Lewistown and its rival school Indian Valley, who has owned it for as long as many current students can remember.

Other sports

Auto racing, including NASCAR and sprint car racing along with backyard wrestling are popular as well as outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing also lint licking.



Television Stations

  • WHTM 27 Harrisburg (ABC)
  • WPMT 43 York (FOX)
  • WHP 21 Harrisburg (CBS)
  • WGAL 8 Lancaster (NBC)
  • WTAJ 10 Altoona (CBS)
  • WLYH 15 Lancaster (CW)

Radio Stations

FM stations
call letters frequency format location Owner
WTLR 89.9 Religious State College Central Pennsylvania Christian Institute
WJRC 90.9 Christian Contemporary Lewistown Salt and Light Media Ministries, Inc.
WJUN 92.5 Country Mexico Starview Media, Inc.
WBUS 93.7 Classic Rock Boalsburg Forever Broadcasting
WQKX 94.1 CHR Sunbury Sunbury Broadcasting Corporation
WMRF 95.7 Hot AC Lewistown First Media Radio
WVNW 96.7 Country Burnham Mifflin County Communications, Inc.
WFGY 98.1 Country Altoona Forever Broadcasting
WMAJ 99.5 Classic Hits Centre Hall Megahertz Licenses, LLC
WFGE 101.1 Country Tyrone Forever Broadcasting
WQWK 103.1 Rock State College Forever Broadcasting
WCHX 105.5 Classic Rock Burnham Mifflin County Communications, Inc.
WBSS 106.3 Classic Rock Mount Union Forever Broadcasting
WQJU 107.1 Religious Mifflintown Central Pennsylvania Christian Institute
AM stations
call letters frequency format location Owner
WIEZ 670 News/Talk Lewistown First Media Radio
WKVA 920 Oldies Burnham Mifflin County Communications, Inc.
WHUN 1150 News/Talk Huntingdon Megahertz Licenses, LLC
WJUN 1220 Sports Mexico Starview Media, Inc.


The Borough of Lewistown is served by the Mifflin County School District.

Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center located in Lewistown provides post high school degrees in nursing, auto mechanics and electrical services and numerous other technology driven careers. As of February, 2006; there are plans to build a community college that would serve the area.

The Lewistown branch of the South Hills School of Business and Technology offers associates degrees and other certifications in various areas of business and technology.

The Lewistown Hospital offers a School of Nursing [2]

The Penn State Learning Center in Lewistown offers credit and non-credit courses through Continuing Education and personal enrichment classes through Cooperative Extension. For the fall semester of 2009, the Learning Center opened a health and science lab. This lab was developed out of a partnership between Penn State, Lewistown Hospital, and the Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technical Center.


External links

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