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Lewistown, Pennsylvania

Lewistown, Pennsylvania
The post office in Lewistown
The post office in Lewistown
Lewistown, Pennsylvania is located in Pennsylvania
Lewistown, Pennsylvania
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 (160 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 8,338
 • Density 4,138.7/sq mi (1,598.0/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

Lewistown is a borough in and the county seat of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, United States.[1] It is the principal city of the Lewistown, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Mifflin County.[2] 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; in 1940, 13,017; and in 2000, 8,998. The population was 8,338 at the 2010 census. Of the four communities in the United States named "Lewistown", this borough is the largest.


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • American Civil War 1.2
    • Tropical Storm Agnes 1.3
    • Present day 1.4
  • Geography 2
  • Water source 3
  • Demographics 4
  • Notable people 5
  • Historical buildings in the Lewistown Borough 6
  • Sports 7
    • High school sports 7.1
    • Mifflin County Huskies 7.2
    • Lewistown Panthers 7.3
      • Old Iron Kettle 7.3.1
      • Other sports 7.3.2
  • Transportation 8
  • Media 9
    • Newspapers 9.1
    • Television stations 9.2
    • Radio stations 9.3
  • Education 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Monument Square in Lewistown, 1913

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. Hurricane Agnes June 1972 crippled the local economy.

On June 19, Hurricane Agnes made initial landfall along the 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 to 3 inches (51 to 76 mm) 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 to 10 inches (150 to 250 mm) 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 Corporation 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.

The Embassy Theatre, McCoy House, Mifflin County Courthouse, Montgomery Ward Building, and Wollner Building are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3]


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.

Water source

The source of the borough's city water comes from the Laurel Creek Reservoir, which is located in Seven Mountains going towards State College.


As of the census[7] of 2010, there were 8,338 people, 3,742 households, and 2,030 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,138.7 people per square mile (1,598.0/km²). There were 4,345 housing units at an average density of 2,156.7 per square mile (832.7/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 95.2% White, 1.5% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.9% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.1% of the population.

There were 3,742 households; out of which, 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.8% were married couples living together, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.8% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21, and the average family size was 2.93.

In the borough, the population was spread out with 23.3% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 26.6% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.3 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $26,584, and the median income for a family was $38,356. The per capita income for the borough was $16,447. About 22.8% of families and 27.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 47.0% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people

Historical buildings in the Lewistown Borough


Lewistown 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) northwest 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

Mifflin County Huskies

As of June 2011, the Mifflin County School District voted to merge its two high schools, Lewistown Area High School and neighboring Indian Valley High School (itself a merger of Chief Logan and Kishacoquillas high schools) to form Mifflin County High School due to increasing costs, declining enrollment, and lack of revenues from the state level. This is the second time the school district chose to create a single high school for the county. The first attempt at a combined high school only lasted for three years in the 1970s before district officials broke up the school due to public pressure. Mifflin County will compete at the PIAA District 6, Class AAAA level but compete in the Mid-Penn Conference due to a lack of AAAA schools in District 6. The newly created school will bear the nickname of "Huskies" and sport purple, silver and black as its colors.

Lewistown Panthers

From September 1976 to June 2011, Lewistown Area High School, nicknamed the Panthers, competed in PIAA District 6, at the Class AAA level. The Panthers won PIAA Championships in Baseball in 2002 and Girls’ Basketball in 1997 and 1998. 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 was consistently ranked among the Top 10 teams in the state. Lewistown had 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 three 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.

Old Iron Kettle

The "Old Iron Kettle" is a black Kettle trophy that was awarded to the winner of the annual football game between Lewistown and its rival school Chief Logan until its closing in 1989 at which time the rivalry shifted to Indian Valley. Played for the final time on October 22, 2010, the game was won by Indian Valley for the fifth consecutive year. The schools subsequently merged to become the Mifflin County High School Huskies.

Other sports

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




  • Lewistown Sentinel

Television stations

  • WHTM 27 Harrisburg (ABC)
  • WPMT 43 York (FOX)
  • WHP 21 Harrisburg (CBS)
  • WGAL 8 Lancaster (NBC)
  • WLYH 15 Lebanon (CW)
  • WTAJ 10 Altoona (CBS)
  • WHVL 29 State College (MyTV)

Radio stations

FM stations
Call letters Frequency Format Location Owner
WRYV 88.7 Christian Contemporary Milroy Invisible Allies
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 WVNW, 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
WCHX 105.5 Classic Rock Burnham Mifflin County Communications, Inc.
WQCK 105.9 Rock State College Magnum Broadcasting
WHUN 106.3 Oldies 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 WVNW, 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. It is also home to the only local Catholic Elementary school, Sacred Heart of Jesus [6], which educates children of any religion in grades K–5.

Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center [7] located in Lewistown provides post high school degrees in nursing, auto mechanics, electrical services, and numerous other technology driven careers. In the 2011–12 school year, Lewistown High School is supposed to combine with its rival school Indian Valley.

The Lewistown branch of the South Hills School of Business and Technology [8] offers associate degrees and other certifications in various areas of business and technology.

The Lewistown Hospital offers a School of Nursing [9].

The Penn State Learning Center [10] 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.


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ 1
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Number of Inhabitants: Pennsylvania" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "Pennsylvania: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  8. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 

External links

  • PA Department of Environmental Protection Hurricane Agnes site
  • Downtown Lewistown official site
  •, local community website for the county.
  •, visitor bureau.
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