Williamsburg's Original Italian Pizza
Small Town, Big History
Location of Williamsburg in Blair County, Pennsylvania.
|• Type||Borough Council|
|• Mayor||Ted Hyle|
|• Council President||Carlee Ranalli|
|• Borough Manager||F. Dennis "Perry" Clapper|
|• Borough Secretary||Amyjo White|
|• Total||0.37 sq mi (0.95 km2)|
|• Land||0.37 sq mi (0.95 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2) 0%|
At USGS river gauge
|831.75 ft (253.52 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||3,303.28/sq mi (1,276.80/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
On July 6, 1754 a treaty was signed at Albany, New York between the Iroquois and the William Penn heirs, opening up portions of the west for settlement. However, British policy forbid western expansion and was in effect until after the American Revolution.
The massacre of Captain William Phillips' Rangers took place near Williamsburg in July 1780. Ten men were murdered after surrendering to a party of Indians.
On September 17, 1789, George Reynolds took out a patent from the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania for a large tract of unsettled land surrounding the Big Spring which flows into the Juniata River.
The borough was founded in 1790 by Jacob Ake. Originally called Aketown, it is the oldest borough in the current borders of Blair County. The name change was in honor of William Ake, Jacob's son. By 1810, there were 34 houses in the village; the census of 1820 notes an inn, a distillery, and the presence of one slave. The Main Line of the Pennsylvania Canal was completed in 1832, and opened on November 28 when the packetboat "John Blair" left Huntingdon, for the west. The Blair County Children's Home was located in Williamsburg for many years until its destruction by fire. Today, the borough is approximately 30 blocks, centered on High and Second Streets. This comprises the Williamsburg Historic District, listed by the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Nearby places also listed are: Etna Furnace and the Daniel Royer House.
Originally served by a canal along the Frankstown Branch Juniata River, the canal was abandoned in 1872. In the following year, the Pennsylvania Railroad completed a branch line from Hollidaysburg to Williamsburg along the old canal towpath. It would eventually be extended to Petersburg in 1900, completing a bypass of the main line known as the Hollidaysburg and Petersburg Branch. The railroad supplied passenger service on the branch until 1933. Freight service would continue until 1982, when Conrail abandoned the line through Williamsburg. It is now the Lower Trail (vide infra).
The Blair County Children's Home, established in 1902, was located in Williamsburg, PA for many years until it was destroyed by fire on Aug. 2, 1975.
Williamsburg is located at (40.461587, -78.203954).
According to the United States Census Bureau, Williamsburg has a total area of 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2), all of it land.
According to the US Geological survey, Williamsburg and the surrounding area sits on a 550 feet thick bed of sandstone, divided into medina white, red, and gray, with beds of red shale. Below that is the Oneida band, a 500 feet thick bed of greenish gray, iron speckled and very hard sandstone.
Williamsburg is accessed by Pennsylvania Route 866, approximately fifteen miles from Altoona to the west and thirteen miles from Huntingdon to the east. The streets are laid out in a grid pattern; going from the Juniata River southward are First (or Front) Street, Second Street, Third Street, and Fourth Street (east side of the borough only). Union Street and Academy Alley/Sage Hill Drive follow the same direction of Fourth Street, if it continued. The main street is High Street, which runs through the center of the borough. Going east from High Street are Spring, Liberty, and Locust Streets; going west are Plum, Black, and Taylor Streets, with Dean Street just over the municipal line in Woodbury Township.
Union Street was named in honor of the federal union; Liberty Street for American liberty. Locust and Plum were named for trees. Black, Taylor and Dean were named for three Blair County judges born in Williamsburg. Academy Alley borders the school property. A small cross street along the eastern side of the high school, is named Blue Pirate Street, after the school mascot.
The Juniata River borders the borough. Piney Creek flows into this river to the west of the borough, and Clover Creek to the east. Across the river is Robeson Extension, usually considered part of Williamsburg, but actually lying in Catharine Township. Street names from the borough extend into the Extension, with the addition of Recreation Drive (borders the ballfields) and Home Street (borders Grace Pointe Community Church, former site of the Blair County Children's Home). The Williamsburg Farm show is held at the complex in Robeson Extension.
Approaching Williamsburg on Route 866 from the northwest, after crossing the Juniata River two natural landmarks can be seen on the left. One is locally named Indian Rocks and is a series of exposed ridges of tall chimney like stone formations (one larger than the others). The other is a flat rock outcropping locally named Table Rock. Native American legends are associated with these rock formations. A hiker standing on top of Table Rock has a view over the entire town.
On the south side of Williamsburg is a large natural spring locally named The Big Spring. This water source is the reason Charles Schwab, the steel tycoon wanted to build a steel mill in Williamsburg. Ultimately Schwab built a paper mill and a housing development on the east side of Williamsburg, referred to as Schwab Town in the early years. The Big Spring is a favorite photography location for wedding parties.
Wilmer Stultz was born on a farm on Piney Creek Road south of Williamsburg. After his father died when he was age 14, his mother moved with Wilmer into Williamsburg where they lived on Spring Street (named after The Big Spring). He was an aviator who piloted Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, as a passenger across the Atlantic. In July 1928, Amelia Earhart accompanied Wilmer to Williamsburg where a gigantic welcome celebration was held including Wilmer, Amelia, and Lou Gordon riding through Williamsburg in an open convertible and accompanied by state police escorts. In July 1929, Amelia attended Wilmer's funeral in Williamsburg after he died in an airplane accident in New York City (Long Island). He is buried, with his wife, in the Presbyterian Cemetery near The Big Spring.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,254 people, 535 households, and 324 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,135 people per square mile. There were 578 housing units at an average density of 1445 per square mile. The racial makeup of the borough was 98.4% White, 0.6% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.2% Asian, and 0.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.0% of the population. The population age was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 59.5% from 18 to 64, and 16.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age of the population is 39½. 46.7% of the population is male.
There were 535 family households out of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them. 41.3% were married couples Husband and wife both present, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.4% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.5% 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 2.98.
In 2010, there were 578 housing units within the borough. Of these 535, or 92.6% were occupied, leaving an overall vacancy rate of 7.4%. The owner-occupied vacancy rate was 1.8% and the rental vacancy rate was 6.1% of total available units. Approximately 60% of the units in the borough are owner occupied, with the remaining 40% rentals. The median price for a house is $78,000, and the average rental unit goes for $466/mo.
The median income for a household in the borough was $27,877, and the median income for a family was $35,633. The per capita income for the borough was $18,403. About 20.2% of the population were below the poverty line, nearly double that of the previous Census in 2000. The Williamsburg cost of living index is 92.4, well below the national average. 84.4% of the population age 25 or older has at least a high school diploma.
Williamsburg has a mayor-council form of government.
William Brantner 2004-2008
John Traxler 2008 (resigned)
Ted Hyle 2008-
The first school in Williamsburg was founded and taught by Jacob Ake, the borough's founder.
Williamsburg Community School District is one of Pennsylvania's smallest. The superintendent is Lisa Murgas, and the school board is headed by Dr. Barry England. The current principal of the High School is Travis Lee. There are two buildings in use in the district; one for grades K-6, and one for grades 7-12. The high school mascot is the Blue Pirate. Sports offered at the high school include cross country, track and field, football, baseball, basketball for both sexes, and volleyball and softball for girls. Both the boys and girls basketball teams have won state championships. In addition to the public schools, students within the district also attend private schools in nearby Altoona and Huntingdon, as well as homeschooling. The school districts website is http://www.Williamsburg.k12.pa.us.
The Williamsburg Public Library opened on January 28, 1950. The library was located in a back room of the Williamsburg Borough Building, and was open on Tuesdays and Saturday evenings from 7 to 9. Members of the Women's Civic Club served as volunteer librarians. The Head Librarian is noe Lugene Shelly. In 1968 the library moved to the former Patterson home on West Second Street, and in December, 2001 it moved again to the former Presbyterian Church building. In 1966 the library became a member of the Blair County Library System. It currently serves the residents of Williamsburg, Catharine and Woodbury Townships, and parts of Huston and Frankstown Townships. The library provides a variety of programs, including story hours, book discussions, and poetry readings and is open five days a week. The library has a twelve station computer lab with high speed Internet and a community meeting room. The library's collection has thousands of books covering a wide variety of topics. The library website is http://www.williamsburgpl.net.
Williamsburg is served by Fire Station 90, located adjacent to the borough hall. It is a full service volunteer outfit including ambulance services. Hazardous Material response is provided by Altoona.
The Lower Trail (pronounced like "power") passes through Williamsburg. The Williamsburg trailhead allows the user to access to Alexandria, 11 miles east, and to Flowing Springs, five miles west. The trail is crushed limestone (paved through and near the borough) with grass on both sides. The Lower Trail offers access to the Juniata River along much of its length. This river is a prime fishing location for trout and other game fish. Many historical points of interest, especially involving the Pennsylvania Canal and the Pennsylvania Railroad, are located along the trail. This trail is popular for exercise, relaxation, and enjoyment of scenery. Other trailheads are located in Ganister and Mount Etna.
The Pennsylvania Mid State Trail overlaps the Lower Trail in Williamsburg and exits via borough streets to the ridgetop of Tussey Mountain. The trail is marked with red-orange blazes on utility poles through the Borough and Woodbury Township. Once off-road, the blazes appear on trees along the trail. The trail runs from the New York line to the Maryland Line with planned extensions both north and south. There are also a few spur trails on the system.
The Upper Juniata River Water Trail also passes through Williamsburg. Currently mapped from the confluence of with the Susquehanna up to Flowing Springs, the water trail offers boaters, especially canoe and kayak enthusiasts, over 120 miles of river recreation. There is a carry-in/out boat access point in Williamsburg at the Lower Trail trailhead. Trail managers are looking to extend the trail upstream to the White Bridge behind Geeseytown.
- The Junior High Lady Pirates won the Juniata Valley League basketball championship in 2006. (17-2)
- The Williamsburg Blue Pirates Varsity Football Team (2006) ended a 16-game losing streak with a win against Tussey Mountain. The team record for the year was 2-8. Jr. High 4-4
- The Williamsburg Blue Pirate Basketball Team (2008) won the Juniata Valley League Championship. They ended their season at 20-6.
The Blair County Allied Firefighters convention, with parade and fireworks, was held in Williamsburg at Riverside park in 2006. The Williamsburg Community Farm Show is held annually, usually near the end of August. Rides and a midway are also provided; this event was previously known as Old Home Week. The Barnes and Carson Circus came to Williamsburg on 8/5/2006. This was the second time in five years a big top has been raised. Historically, the Adam Forepaugh Circus visited Williamsburg on May 5, 1871.
Residents of Williamsburg engage in many arts and crafts. Craft shows occur when artisans sell their work. Some of the media worked in include pottery, leathercraft, metal, and wood. Local cabinetmakers craft fine wood furniture. The local library has sponsored a poetry coffeehouse on several occasions, and Royer Mansion has hosted readings from local literacy and writer's societies.
Musically, the high school band has won awards. The band traveled to Dublin, Ireland, in the early 1970s to play in the St. Patrick's Day parade, and won first place. Today, musicians, individually and in small groups, play everything from bluegrass to heavy metal.
The largest employer is Cenveo, in the northwest end of the borough. In 2011 Cenveo purchased the Williamsburg location of MeadWestvaco. In 2006, MeadWestvaco reopened the former Sweetheart/Fonda building as a new West Plant. Other business include a Martin General Store, a Williamsburg C&S Market (groceries), branches of the Clearfield Bank and Trust and First National Bank, Martins, Nic's Grab n Go, and a laundromat. In addition to sandwiches and groceries, two pizza shops (the Sizzler and OIP) are located in the borough. Several mechanics offer car repairs, and gasoline is available at one convenience store. Bicycle rentals were available at Past to Present at the trailhead, but are no longer. McFarland Bicycle in Ganister now fills that need. Dairy cattle and other agricultural farms surround Williamsburg. Grannas Brothers operate a large stone quarry just outside Williamsburg, in nearby Ganister. White Deer Run has a D&A treatment center in nearby Cove Forge. Many residents are employed in the surrounding larger communities such as Altoona, Hollidaysburg, and Huntingdon.
Other than the Cenveo plant, the most common industries for employment for Williamsburg Residents are construction, forestry, agriculture, quarrying, education, and health care.
There is also a newly renovated Dollar General store located in the borough.
Williamsburg has no television or radio stations, nor a current newspaper. Past newspapers were the Williamsburg Tribune (in the 1800s); the Williamsburg Journal, owned by H.A. “Barney” and Charlotte Barnhart in the 1940s-1950s; the Williamsburg Focus (1960s-1990s) edited by Dr. Marion Morelli; the Williamsburg Gap (1996) and the Williamsburg Focus (1990s). The Altoona Mirror, the Huntingdon Daily News, and Morrisons Cove Herald all cover the Williamsburg area.
In addition WJAC-TV (based in Johnstown) and WTAJ-TV (based in Altoona) cover Blair County extensively.
Charles M Schwab was born in Williamsburg. At the age of 39 he became president of the United States Steel. Near the turn of the 20th century, he was approached by leading citizens and asked to assist with bringing manufacturing jobs to the borough. He helped fund a paper mill that was built just outside Williamsburg in 1903. The paper mill's final owner was Westvaco (West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company). It was closed in the 1970s and later demolished. Mr. Schwab also helped make the borough larger by building houses for some of the mill workers. This section of Williamsburg was called Schwabtown.
Galen Hall was raised in Williamsburg, and has played and coached football at the college and professional levels.
Lieutenant general Vaughn O. Lang initially received a football scholarship for Penn State University (PSU), where Joe Paterno was then an assistant football coach. After one year at the university he joined the Navy and returned to PSU after fulfilling his commitment to the USN. He entered the ROTC program and was commissioned in the Signal Corps. Prior to Signal Command having a four star general officer in command, LTG Lang was one of six LTG's in the US Army Signal Corps serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Mobilization Planning and Requirements, OSD in 1967. Prior to his retirement from active duty, on February 2, 1980, General Lang was the Deputy Commander of The Communications and Electronics Materiel Readiness Command (CERCOM) beginning October 11, 1978.
Eddie August Schneider landed and took off August 5, 1930 from Williamsburg during his transcontinental flight.
- "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Aug 13, 2017.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Hilker, Jr., Jim (Spring 2007). "A History of the H&P Branch". The Keystone. The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. 40 (1).
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Penn State Army ROTC
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