Picture of Saltsburg taken from the overlook located on the East side of The Kiski School
A Pennsylvania Canal Town
Location of Saltsburg in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.
|• Type||Borough Council|
|• Total||0.24 sq mi (0.62 km2)|
|• Land||0.21 sq mi (0.54 km2)|
|• Water||0.03 sq mi (0.09 km2)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||3,971.01/sq mi (1,533.96/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
Saltsburg is a borough in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 873 at the 2010 census. The town was based on the construction of salt wells and the canals and railroad tracks that passed through it. It is in western Pennsylvania.
Saltsburg is located at 40°29'9" North, 79°26'52" West (40.485731, -79.447726).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2). 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it is water. The total area is 16.67% water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 955 people, 406 households, and 261 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,628.9 people per square mile (1,755.8/km²). There were 445 housing units at an average density of 2,156.9 per square mile (818.2/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 99.16% White, 0.21% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 0.21% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.36% of the population.
There were 406 households, out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.8% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.7% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the borough the population was spread out, with 25.4% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 19.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.2 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $27,448, and the median income for a family was $37,614. Males had a median income of $32,778 versus $24,688 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $14,580. About 11.4% of families and 12.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.7% of those under age 18 and 11.9% of those age 65 or over.
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On June 20, 1769, William Gray commended the first survey in the Saltsburg area. Early settlers of the wooded region were mainly Scots-Irish immigrants. From 1768 until 1795, people migrated west and found the town of Saltsburg and Indiana County. Those settlers did not take full advantage of the area near the Kiskiminetas River until 1795 because of the threat and attacks of Native Americans.
The name “Saltsburg” assumes a relation of the salt grain to this town. It is true that salt flourished in this “newly discovered” area. A Mrs. Deemer was the first who noted this discovery. Around the years 1795-1798, the woman responsible proved salt was present in the Conemaugh River, about one mile above Saltsburg’s present site, in a town now known as Moween. Mrs. Deemer produced a sample of salt by simply evaporating the water from the river.
In January 1817 the first sale of land was made to the Congregation of Saltsburg. In 1816-1817 Andrew Boggs purchased a large amount of land, which held the first town lots. The town was named with common consent of her first settlers, based on the newly thriving salt industry. The town’s religion was mainly Presbyterian, which was also the denomination of the first church built in Saltsburg. The first house was built in 1820, and now is occupied with the Presbyterian Church.
The town quickly filled with merchants in the late 1820s, and the town became a prosperous place to reside. John Carson became the first tailor in 1827. Daniel Davis was the first blacksmith in 1828, and George Johnston was the first merchant in 1829. The population of the town continued to grow, and in 1838, the town was declared a borough. In 1840 the estimated population was 335.
The primary means of transportation in the area were on foot, carriage, train or boat. The canal and train were fairly new to the people living in the area, but they adapted well. The canal and railroad were major trade conduits for the town and the region. As the town grew it became a site for the passage of the main line canal from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. Coal and salt were transported along the canal and the building of boats became very important. In 1835 and 1836, Robert Young, Butler Meyers and Jacob Newhouse opened the first canal-boat construction business in the town. Newhouse and his workers crafted some of the finest heavy freight boats the old canal ever saw. For several years boat building was said to be the chief industry of the town. In 1855 the railroad bridge was built, with Major S.S. Jameson as the contractor and with the help of the principal mason John Marth. By 1864 the railroad brought an end to the canal era. The growth of the town was minimal until coalmines became prevalent in the 1870s.
Dr. John McFarland, a graduate of Jefferson Medical College was the town’s first physician; he came to Saltsburg in 1836. In addition to being a physician, Dr. McFarland was also the director of the Indiana County Medical Society and an instructor at the Saltsburg Academy. Later he served in the state House of Representatives from 1845–46 and became a man of the railroad industry. He was one of the first directors of the Northern Pennsylvania Railroad. The first school was a log house located closer to the trestlework or railroad bridge. John Whittlesey was the first teacher, and John Bucklin was the second. The Saltsburg Academy was established in 1852. It was approximately 52 feet long by 30 feet wide.
The town of Saltsburg is located in the southwestern corner of Indiana County, Pennsylvania. It currently has an estimated population of 923. The borough maintains its own police department and currently has one police officer. Supplemental police protection is provided by the Pennsylvania State Police. Saltsburg also has its own volunteer fire department (Station 131). There is an elementary school as well as a high school. They are located next to the Kiskiminetas River. Being so small, the economy of Saltsburg is based on small restaurants, a few salons, a gas station, and a grocery store. The Rebecca B. Hadden Stone House Museum is located at 105 Point Street and has survived many floods, the construction of the railroad, and has been standing since the days of the canal. The Saltsburg Area Historical Society is an organization that continues to retain information from the past of the town and the people and their ancestors of the area.
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Every year, Saltsburg holds a celebration in the Canal Park and on Point Street. The celebration lasts three days in early June and includes crafts, food, live music, games, and a fireworks display. Also a unique tradition is the annual duck race. Plastic Ducks are numbered and thrown into the river from the bridge. If the duck with your number finishes first you win the $500 prize.
In late 2012, Saltsburg's town council voted to add a Prize Pooping competition to the Canal Days festivities. The first (and final) Canal Days Prize Pooping Competition was subsequently held on the first night of Canal Days in 2013. Each contestant was required to register for the competition at the Saltsburg borough building approximately 90 days in advance. Since the inception of the contest was poorly publicized, only two contestants, Clint Abatti of Saltsburg and David Zeely of Blairsville, PA, registered. The object of the Prize Pooping Competition was relatively straight forward and self explanatory: On the date of the competition, each contestant would have a window of approximately four hours to defecate into a large Styrofoam bowl under the strict supervision of one of the judges. The fecal matter would subsequently be sifted through by the judge for foreign non-food items that may have been ingested prior to the competition to increase the weight of the contestant's bowel movement. The discovery of any non-food foreign objects in the fecal matter would result in the immediate disqualification, as well as the public summary execution of the cheating contestant by firing squad. Once all of the bowel movements are weighed, the contestant with the heaviest bowel movement is crowned the winner, and receives a $50 gift card to Glassmart.
The first (and final) Canal Days Prize Pooping Competition began without incident, however things quickly spiraled out of control after Clint Abatti's bowel movement was found to be tainted with ball bearings by judge (and town Councilman) PJ Hruska. Upon this discovery, Mr. Hruska attempted to restrain Mr. Abbati while simultaneously contacting members of the on-duty Saltsburg police force who were also on stand-by to serve as executioners should a cheating contestant be discovered in the Prize Pooping Competition. Mr. Abatti was able to break away from Mr. Hruska's clutches, and subsequently fled the borough long before the Saltsburg police were able to arrive on scene to execute him with their service weapons. After this unforeseen turn of events, Mr. Hruska had no other choice but to name David Zeely as the de-facto champion of the first annual Prize Pooping Competition, much to the dismay of the spectators who had slowly been gathering, and who by this point were more interested in seeing a public execution than the sight of two giant piles of feces festering in the humid western Pennsylvania sunshine in large Styrofoam bowls. In an instant, the crowd's dismay turned to blind, retarded rage, and they began to encircle Mr. Hruska while chanting "kill, kill, kill" in unison.
It was at this point when David Zeely (the second contestant) quietly dropped his pants and squatted over his own extra large Styrofoam bowl, and grunted loudly as he ejected an enormous bowel movement from his anus in full view of the angry mob. Their chanting rage immediately subsided and was replaced with silent awe as they gazed upon the massiveness of Mr. Zeely's bowel movement. After several minutes of stunned silence, Mr. Hruska asked Mr. Zeely (now laying on the ground with a satisfied expression on his face) how he managed to produce such an enormous bowel movement. Mr. Zeely replied that he'd increased his heroin intake for the previous three weeks, while simultaneously eating Fox's Pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in order to constipate himself. Then 72 hours before the competition, Mr. Zeely deliberately deprived himself of heroin, forcing his body into opiate withdrawal, and subsequently causing his constipation to cease. "I timed it perfectly, man" Mr. Zeely proudly stated to Hruska and the crowd. "You saved my life!" Mr. Hruska replied. "Give this man some space! Get him a stamp bag! This man is a local hero!"
Councilman Hruska then composed himself and contacted the Pennsylvania State Police on his Blackberry phone to report perceived fugitive Clint Abatti. The State Police dispatcher hung up on him. He then contacted the Pittsburgh field office of the FBI, who subsequently asked him if his call was a joke, and threatened him with federal charges if he continued to prank call them. Frustrated, Mr Hruska pressed on with his desire to see Mr. Abatti brought to justice for his crime of cheating in the Prize Pooping Competition, as well as for fleeing the borough of Saltsburg. At the next town council meeting, he proposed a measure that would make having the birth name of Clinton Abatti in the borough of Saltsburg punishable by immediate execution by firing squad. The measure was unanimously passed. At the moment the law was decreed to be in effect, Mayor Cookie Rosco had difficulty containing her enthusiasm, and as such shouted "May he burn in hell!" Not long afterward, a local screen printing company was commissioned by Saltsburg's town council, at the expense of the taxpayers, to create an official flag for Saltsburg. The flag depicts a caricature of Mr. Abatti's likeness riddled with bullet holes, with the phrase "May He Burn in Hell" underneath the image. The flag is now proudly flown on the flagpole at the borough building underneath Old Glory. It is also sewn onto the arms of the uniforms of the Saltsburg Police force, with the additional phrase "We WILL kill you one day, Clint Abbati" above Mr. Abatti's likeness.
In the years following the first (and final) Canal Days Prize Pooping Competition, the event has been studied by countless academic institutions and historians. When queried, an attorney employed by the ACLU (who asked to remain anonymous) responded to the author of this Wikipedia edit by saying "I dunno dude. Ya know, sometimes I really, really hate my job. I mean, sure I love the fact that I'm out there in the trenches fighting for everyone's civil rights and shit, but every once in a while I wish I could just un-see some of the things I've seen. Saltsburg is one of those instances. I mean, Jesus Christ. What kind of world are we really living in?" He then immediately jumped to his death from a 74th story office window.
Saltsburg holds its own community days in early September called "Canal Days." The celebration includes many booths along the historical canal in town. The booths contain many crafts, food, and games. It also has live music, fireworks, and an annual poker run bicycle ride. This ride is generally seven miles along the West Penn Trail. At the end of the ride, each person receives five cards to create a poker hand. The best hand wins.
1. Anderson, Jenella M. Indiana County Heritage in Early Historic Saltsburg, ed. Mary Carson, (Indiana, PA: 1970-1971).
2. Johnson, George B. Saltsburg and The Pennsylvania Canal. (Saltsburg, PA: Historic Saltsburg Inc., 1984).
3. Sechrist, Ruth. "Rebecca B. Hadden Stone House Museum," in Historic Saltsburg Pennsylvania.
4. Stephenson, Clarence D. The Early Salt Industry of the Conemaugh - Kiskiminetas Valley. 1 ed. Indiana County Heritage. 4, Marion Center, PA: Mahonin Mineograph and Pamphlet Service, 1968.
5. Stephenson, Clarence D. The Pennsylvania Canal Indiana and Westmoreland Counties. (Indiana, PA: The A.G. Halldin Publishing Company).
6. Telander, Franklin. "Saltsburg: An Historic Pennsylvania Canal Town," in Westmoreland History, (Summer/Fall 2000): 24-31.
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