Somerset County, Pennsylvania
|Somerset County, Pennsylvania|
Somerset County Courthouse
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
|Founded||April 17, 1795|
1,081 sq mi (2,800 km²)
1,075 sq mi (2,784 km²)
7 sq mi (18 km²), 0.60%
72/sq mi (27.9/km²)
Somerset County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. As of 2010, the population was 77,742. Somerset County was created on April 17, 1795, from part of Bedford County and named for Somerset, United Kingdom. Its county seat is Somerset. It is part of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Statistical Area.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,081 square miles (2,800 km²), of which 1,075 square miles (2,783 km²) is land and 7 square miles (17 km²) (0.60%) is water. Somerset County is one of the far southern counties of Pennsylvania, along its straight southern edge. The county borders Garrett and Allegany Counties in Maryland, and the Pennsylvania counties of Fayette, Westmoreland, Cambria, and Bedford.
Somerset County is one of the snowiest inhabited locations in the United States, with the highest elevations of the county averaging 200+ inches of snow each winter. The county's elevation and proximity to the ocean causes snow from both Nor'easters and lake effect upslope snow events to fall from late October through early April. Snow has been recorded in Somerset County in every month except July, although local lore has it that even July saw snow in 1816, "the year without a summer." Mount Davis, the highest natural point in the state of Pennsylvania at 3,213 feet (979 m), is located in the southern part of the County.
Major highways 
- Interstate 70/Interstate 76 (PA Turnpike)
- U.S. Route 30
- U.S. Route 40
- U.S. Route 219
- State Route 31
- State Route 56
- State Route 160
- State Route 281
- State Route 601
Adjacent counties 
- Cambria County (north)
- Bedford County (east)
- Allegany County, Maryland (southeast)
- Garrett County, Maryland (southwest)
- Fayette County (west)
- Westmoreland County (northwest)
National protected area 
As of the census of 2000, there were 80,023 people, 31,222 households, and 22,042 families residing in the county. The population density was 74 people per square mile (29/km²). There were 37,163 housing units at an average density of 35 per square mile (13/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.39% White, 1.59% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.31% from other races, and 0.40% from two or more races. 0.66% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 41.5% were of German, 10.4% American, 7.4% Italian, 6.4% Irish, 6.4% Polish and 5.8% English ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 31,222 households out of which 29.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.30% were married couples living together, 8.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.40% were non-families. 26.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the county, the population was spread out with 22.30% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 27.80% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 18.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 99.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.90 males.
Somerset County is situated along the eastern border of the Allegheny Plateau physiographic province, which is characterized by gently folded to flat-lying sedimentary rocks of middle to late Paleozoic age. The eastern border of the county is approximately at the Allegheny Front, a geological boundary between the Allegheny Plateau and the Ridge and Valley Province (characterized by folded and faulted sedimentary rocks of early to middle Paleozoic age).
The stratigraphic record of sedimentary rocks within the county spans from the Devonian Scherr Formation to the Pennsylvanian Monongahela Formation. Most of these rocks are clastics (conglomerate, sandstone, shale), and there is little or no limestone exposed at the surface. No igneous or metamorphic rocks of any kind exist within the county.
Structurally, Somerset County has many gentle folds, the axes of which trend roughly north-northeast. Synclines include the Youghiogheny Syncline, New Lexington/Johnstown Syncline, Somerset Syncline, Berlin Syncline, and Wellersburg Syncline (called the George's Creek Syncline in Maryland). The southern end of Wilmore Syncline is at the town of Windber. Anticlines include the Laurel Hill Anticline, Centerville Dome, Boswell Dome, Negro Mountain Anticline, and an unnamed anticline between the Berlin and Wellersburg Synclines.
The primary mountains within the county are (from west to east) Laurel Hill (which forms part of the western border), Negro Mountain, Meadow Mountain, Savage Mountain, and Allegheny Mountain. Negro Mountain also includes Mount Davis, the highest peak in Pennsylvania. Each mountain trends northeast.
All of Somerset County lies far to the south of the glacial boundary, and thus it was never glaciated. However, during the Pleistocene epoch (the Ice Age), periglacial processes dominated. Most of the county was most likely a tundra during the Pleistocene. Patterned ground typical of tundra is still visible at Mount Davis, although it is somewhat obscured by vegetation.
The main drainages in southwestern Somerset county are the Casselman River and Laurel Hill Creek which flow into the Youghiogheny River along the southwest border. In the northwest, Stonycreek River, Shade Creek, and Quemahoning Creek (which flows into the Quemahoning Reservoir) are tributaries of the Conemaugh River. All these drainages are part of the Mississippi River Watershed. In the southeast, Wills Creek flows east into Bedford County and then into Maryland where it joins the Potomac River. Also, the headwaters of the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River are to the east of the town of Somerset. Both the Potomac and Juniata rivers are part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Coal fields exist within Somerset County. The coal is entirely bituminous, and much of it has been mined or is being mined by Strip mining. Most of the coal is within the Main Bituminous Field, which stretched north and west to adjacent counties and southward into Maryland and West Virginia. The rest is within the Georges Creek Field.
There are many abandoned mines in the county, and acid mine drainage is an environmental problem in many areas. Fishless streams exist as a result of the discharge from the abandoned mines. These include parts of the Casselman River, Shade Creek, Stonycreek River, and Quemahoning Creek, as well as many of their tributaries.
Recent history 
Somerset County gained worldwide attention in 2001 when a hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed in Stonycreek Township, near the town of Shanksville as part of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. The most likely target of this flight was the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The terrorists' plans for this plane were thwarted by the actions of the passengers and crew. Their bravery is honored and the crash site, which is the final resting place of the passengers and crew, is now protected as part of the Flight 93 National Memorial, under the care of the National Park System. See also USS Somerset, a U.S. Navy warship which is to be named in commemoration of the Flight 93 tragedy.
Somerset County in arts and literature 
The Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania, was one of the nation's first "summer-stock" theaters. The Mountain Playhouse has maintained a full schedule of live theater productions nightly from May through October each year for the last sixty years.
Notable people 
- Alexander Hamilton Coffroth (1828–1906), 19th-century Democratic U.S. Representative and Abraham Lincoln's final pallbearer to die
- Joseph Darby, former US Army sergeant who as the first soldier to take official action against suspected and later confirmed mistreatment of prisoners by other soldiers in Abu Ghraib
- Howard Shultz Miller, U.S. Representative from Kansas.
- U.S. Route 30 (Lincoln Highway)
- Route 31
- Pennsylvania Turnpike
- Pennsylvania Route 160
- U.S. Route 219 (the southern portion as the Mason-Dixon Highway)
- Pennsylvania Route 281
- Pennsylvania Route 403
- Pennsylvania Route 601
- Pennsylvania Route 653
- Pennsylvania Route 985
Former route 
- Route 131 (1928–1946) now Buena Road
Government and politics 
As of November 2010, there are 53,527 registered voters in Somerset County .
County Commissioners 
- John Vatavuk, Democrat, Chair
- Joe Betta, Republican, Vice Chair
- Pamela Tokar-Ickes, Democrat, Secretary
Other county offices 
- Clerk of Courts, Rose Svonavec, Republican
- District Attorney, Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, Democrat
- Prothonotary, Angie Svonovec, Democrat
- Recorder of Deeds, Lorraine K. Barron, Republican
- Register of Wills, Sharon Ackerman, Republican
- Sheriff, John Mankey, Democrat
- Treasurer, Donna Schmitt, Democrat
- Auditors - Jerry Lyons(R), Annette Isgan(R), John Steele(D)
State Representatives 
State Senator 
US Representative 
Pennsylvania State Police 
- Station Commander, Sergeant James P. Shaw
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in at most two cases, towns. The following boroughs and townships are located in Somerset County:
Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, may be listed here as well.
Census-designated places 
Other unincorporated communities 
Public school districts 
- Berlin Brothersvalley School District
- Conemaugh Township Area School District
- Meyersdale Area School District
- North Star School District
- Rockwood Area School District
- Salisbury-Elk Lick School District
- Shade-Central City School District
- Shanksville-Stonycreek School District
- Somerset Area School District
- Turkeyfoot Valley Area School District
- Windber Area School District (also in Cambria County)
There are 4 Pennsylvania state parks in Somerset County.
See also 
- Cambria Somerset Authority - Water supply authority for Cambria County and Somerset County
- List of municipal authorities in Somerset County, Pennsylvania
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Somerset County, Pennsylvania
- Flight 93 National Memorial - unit of the National Park System that protects the crash site of Flight 93 which the final resting place of the passengers and crew.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- PA Geological Survey Map 13
- PA Geological Survey Map 59
- PA Geological Survey Map 7
- PA Geological Survey Map 10
- "MILLER, Howard Shultz, (1879 - 1970)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Somerset County, Pennsylvania|
- Somerset County government
- Somerset County Chamber of Commerce
- Somerset County Federated Library System
- Somerset Historical Center
- Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau
- Laurel Arts/Philip Dressler Center for the Arts
- Pennsylvania Maple Festival, Meyersdale, March
- Farmers and Threshermens Jubilee, Rockwood, September
- Springs Folk Festival, Springs, October