Northern Tier (Pennsylvania)
The Northern Tier is a geographic region consisting of five, or sometimes seven, rural counties in north-central Pennsylvania.
The counties and important towns in the Northern Tier are:
"Northern Pennsylvania" subregion
McKean and Potter Counties have populations, economies and geographic features that are very similar to those of the five Northern Tier counties, but the residents of McKean and Potter counties usually refer to their region not as the Northern Tier but as "Northern Pennsylvania".
The counties and important towns in the Northern Pennsylvania subregion are:
It is not unusual for people in the two Northern Pennsylvania counties to be at least as connected to communities in Western New York as they are with communities in Pennsylvania. Olean, New York and Jamestown, New York offer more shopping, dining and entertainment options than any of the towns of McKean or Potter Counties. Most of the television that could be received there before the mid 1990s, when satellite TV became common and cable TV expanded into some rural areas, came from Buffalo, New York. The only stations that can reliably be received with a rooftop antenna are WIVB (CBS), WGRZ (NBC) and WKBW (ABC). CHCH from Hamilton, Ontario and CFTO from Toronto can also sometimes be received with poor image quality. Newscasts from the Buffalo stations made it easier for Northern Pennsylvanians to follow local events in Western New York (and to some degree, in southern Ontario) than to follow events in their own state. The only way to view a Pennsylvania station without cable or satellite service is to point an antenna in the opposite direction of the Buffalo stations, which brings in WPSU (PBS) from Clearfield. People in Northern Pennsylvania are as familiar with Buffalo's professional sports teams as with those of Pittsburgh, which is roughly twice as far as Buffalo.
The five Northern Tier counties are home to roughly 180,000 people distributed among many small towns and the countryside. The two Northern Pennsylvania counties have a combined population of about 62,000. The Northern Tier/Northern Pennsylvania region thus has a total population of about 233,000.
The largest town of the Northern Tier/Northern Pennsylvania region is Bradford. Not counting the Northern Pennsylvania sub-region, the largest town is Sayre, Pennsylvania, located on the left-east bank North Branch Susquehanna River and is on Interstate 86 where it dips just south of the Pennsylvania state line).
Bradford Regional Airport in McKean county offers scheduled air service, charter flights and sight-seeing flights.
Sayre Yard is a large railyard currently operated by Norfolk Southern that extends across the state line into Waverly, New York and connects rail transport centers via Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to freight yards in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Baltimore to Buffalo and other Upstate New York cities as well as the Great Lakes basin cities.
The Northern Tier/Northern Pennsylvania region is one of the most rural and heavily forested parts of the north-eastern United States, and one of the least densely populated. Much of the Allegheny National Forest is found in the western counties.
The two Northern Pennsylvania counties offer some of the darkest skies that one will find in the north-east; Cherry Springs State Park, which has expanded to include the area of the now defunct Cherry Springs Airport, has become a popular place for serious stargazers.
Bradford was the site of an important step in the development of personal aviation. In the 1930s, the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Corporation produced an airplane called the Taylor Cub in Bradford. After a fire at the factory, the company was bought by William T. Piper. After relocating his factory to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, Piper resumed production of a revised design of the airplane first produced in Bradford, which became the world-famous Piper Cub.
The Endless Mountains are a major geographic feature of the eastern counties.
The Northern Tier region as a whole is notorious for its high unemployment and low per-capita incomes in comparison to the rest of Pennsylvania, though the discovery of the Marcellus Formation provided an economic boost in the 2000s and 2010s. The region's top two employers are government-funded services, specifically health care and education services.
Agriculture is an important activity in the region despite the short growing season and hilly terrain. Small-scale beef and dairy farming is common. Potter County is known for the production of potatoes, and there are many small-scale producers of maple syrup in the region.
Production of crude oil and natural gas are important to the local economy. The characteristics of Pennsylvania Grade Crude Oil make it especially desirable for high-end uses.
Oil refining is important in McKean county.
Logging, forest product industries and paper product industries are significant parts of the region's economy.