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Pennsylvania Counties
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Pennsylvania Counties

There are sixty-seven counties of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States of America. The city of Philadelphia is coterminous with Philadelphia County, and governmental functions have been consolidated since 1854.

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Somerset County, Pennsylvania

Somerset County Education, Geography, and History

Somerset County, Pennsylvania Courthouse

Somerset County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 77,742. Its county seat is Somerset. The county was created on April 17, 1795, from part of Bedford County and named after Somerset, United Kingdom.

Somerset County comprises the Somerset, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Johnstown-Somerset, PA Combined Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Somerset County Name

Named for Somersetshire, England.

Demographics:

County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Somerset County History

Created on April 17, 1795, from part of Bedford County and named for Somersetshire, England. Somerset, the county seat was laid out in 1795 and incorporated as a borough on March 5, 1804.

Traversed by the Forbes Road in 1758, it became legal to settle the Somerset area after the "New Purchase" of 1768. German Brethren groups from New Jersey settled Brothers Valley, and the radical preacher Harmon Husband joined them in 1771. A rye and whiskey economy involved the area in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 against the federal government's tax on distilleries. Although punished, Husband, who died June 1795, saw the county created that April. Robert Philson, also a Whiskey leader, lived on as Somerset's political leader. More land was added in 1800, but some was yielded to create Cambria County in 1804. An Agricultural Society was formed in 1828 to pursue intelligent farm methods. Cattle and sheep were very productive, and the cloth called linsey-woolsey was manufactured. Maple sugar was important. There was a severe frost in 1859, when only the buckwheat crop prevented starvation. Although coal had been mined and timber cut since 1770s, only when the Somerset and Cumberland Railroad opened in 1871 were big lumber and coal industries developed. Large mines began in 1872, and later a branch of the B. & O. Railroad opened the northern coal section. Babcock Lumber Company flourished until the lumber was gone in 1912. The population had mushroomed. Peak coal production occurred in 1920- 10.5 million tons! There were violent coal strikes in 1903, 1906, and 1922. Coal production fell off sharply, but dairying and potato production increased in the 1920s. The 1936 flood eliminated the old wooden miners' houses. The peak population occurred in 1940 (84,957), the same year the Pennsylvania Turnpike appeared and saved the county's economy. Today there is heavy production of hay, oats, milk, potatoes, and alfalfa; one third of the county is farmland. Potato chips are produced, and tourism, especially skiing, is important. When US 219 opened from Ebensburg to Somerset in 1969, it augmented the Turnpike by providing a north-south artery. Somerset is now the second highest bituminous producing county.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the 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) of it is land and 7 square miles (17 km2) of it (0.60%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Cambria County (north)
  • Bedford County (east)
  • Allegany County, Maryland (southeast)
  • Garrett County, Maryland (southwest)
  • Fayette County (west)
  • Westmoreland County (northwest)

Education

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)

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