Portage, Pennsylvania

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Coordinates: 40°23′13″N 78°40′25″W / 40.38694°N 78.67361°W / 40.38694; -78.67361
Portage, Pennsylvania
Home Rule Municipality
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Cambria
Elevation 1,795 ft (547.1 m)
Coordinates 40°23′13″N 78°40′25″W / 40.38694°N 78.67361°W / 40.38694; -78.67361
Area 0.7 sq mi (2 km2)
 - land 0.7 sq mi (2 km2)
 - water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 2,837 (2000)
Density 4,262.7 / sq mi (1,645.8 / km2)
Incorporated 1890
Mayor James Kissel
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 15946
Area code 814
Location of Portage in Cambria County
Location of Portage in Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States
Website: www.co.cambria.pa.us/portage

Portage is a home rule municipality, formerly a borough, within Portage Township in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 7 miles (11 km) southeast of Ebensburg and 16 miles (26 km) west-southwest of Altoona. It is part of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania Metropolitan Statistical Area. Coal mining was the lifeblood of Portage. In 1900, 816 people lived there, and in 1910, there were 2,954 residents. The population was 2,837 at the 2000 census.


The Sonman Mine explosion occurred on July 15, 1940, at the Sonman Shaft Coal Co. near Portage. Sixty-three miners died, ranking it among the deadliest coal mining accidents in American history. In 1960, a memorial to the miners who died in the explosion, originally located in Jamestown, was relocated to Crichton-McCormick Park in Portage. The Portage Station Museum offers a documentary about the disaster titled "63 Men Down: The Story of the Sonman Mine Explosion", along with coal mine and railroad artifacts and exhibits.

The Portage Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.[1]

Portage adopted a home rule charter on May 10, 1994 that took effect on January 1, 1996.[2] Although the community kept "Borough of Portage" as its official name, it is no longer governed under the state's Borough Code.


Portage is located at 40°23′13″N 78°40′25″W / 40.38694°N 78.67361°W / 40.38694; -78.67361 (40.386858, -78.673593).[3]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2), all of it land.

Notable residents[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 816
1910 2,954 262.0%
1920 4,804 62.6%
1930 4,432 −7.7%
1940 4,123 −7.0%
1950 4,371 6.0%
1960 3,933 −10.0%
1970 4,151 5.5%
1980 3,510 −15.4%
1990 3,105 −11.5%
2000 2,837 −8.6%
2010 2,638 −7.0%
Est. 2012 2,588 −1.9%

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 2,837 people, 1,232 households, and 756 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,262.7 people per square mile (1,634.9/km²). There were 1,367 housing units at an average density of 2,054.0 per square mile (787.8/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 99.47% White, 0.07% African American, 0.04% Native American, 0.07% Asian, 0.04% from other races, and 0.32% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.49% of the population. Residents are predominantly of Polish or Slovak descent.

There were 1,232 households out of which 24.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.6% were non-families. 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the borough the population was spread out with 20.7% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 23.7% from 45 to 64, and 21.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.3 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $24,548, and the median income for a family was $34,539. Males had a median income of $24,957 versus $21,500 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $15,594. About 14.0% of families and 18.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.9% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.

Fire Company[edit]

The Portage Volunteer Fire Company was chartered in 1906. At this time it was a one bay door barn with a horse drawn engine. Later in 1936 the updated their fleet with a new American LaFrance engine. They were one of the first companies to have purchased a fire engine, and they began to run mutual aid to other departments. Many years later, they got more apparatus, and realized the single garage building was too small, so in 1977, they constructed the Municipal building/Fire Station that also houses the Portage Boro Police Department. In 2009, Cassandra Volunteer Fire Company and Portage Volunteer Fire Company merged to better serve the community and eliminate duplication of services in the area. Once again in 2015, members from Wilmore Volunteer Fire Company and Portage Volunteer Fire Company accepted a merger to better serve their communities. Today the Portage Volunteer Fire Company operates out of two stations and has a fleet of one 75' Quint, one Rescue-Engine, one Engine, one Heavy-Rescue, one Tanker, one ATV/Brush Unit, and two support vehicles.


External links[edit]