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.

Northumberland County, Pennsylvania

Northumberland County Education, Geography, and History

Northumberland County, Pennsylvania Courthouse

Northumberland County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 94,528.Its county seat is Sunbury. The county was formed in 1772 from parts of Lancaster, Berks, Bedford, Cumberland, and Northampton Counties and named for the county of Northumberland in northern England. Northumberland County is a fifth class county according to the Pennsylvania's County Code.

Northumberland County comprises the Sunbury, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Bloomsburg-Berwick-Sunbury, PA Combined Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Northumberland County Name

It probably was named for the English county of the same name.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Northumberland County History

Created on March 21, 1772, from parts of Lancaster, Cumberland, Berks, Bedford, and Northampton Counties. It probably was named for the English county of the same name. Sunbury, the county seat was laid out in 1772, incorporated as a borough on March 24, 1797, and became a city in 1921. It was named for an English village near London.

The present county area is land acquired by purchases from Indians in 1749 and 1768, but until the formation of Lycoming County in 1795 it included a vast amount of north central Pennsylvania as far as the Allegheny River. Iroquois, Delaware, and Shawnee Indians once had sites along the Susquehanna River. Fort Augusta (at Sunbury) was a key point in frontier defense from 1756 to 1765, but permanent white settlement began in 1768. Tories and Indians chastised the population in 1778-1779.

The confluence of the East and West Branches of the Susquehanna made this a center for gathering lumber and other products to move south. Canals improved the arrangement. After 1835 rail cars carried anthracite coal to the river and the county became a mining leader in the 1850s. The older lumber and farming economy contrasted with the anthracite economy of Mt. Carmel and Shamokin; railroads rushed in to carry the coal directly to the east. The lumber industry was enlarged by Ario Pardee. The fourth largest anthracite producing county until 1952, Northumberland then rose to its present third place. Thomas Edison's electric lights in Sunbury in 1883 were a technical breakthrough paralleling Joseph Priestley's scientific discoveries, many of which were made in his Northumberland home. Shamokin was the center for agriculture in the central section of the county. Milton became the site of an American Car & Foundry (ACF) factory in the 1920s. County population has declined in each census since 1930, when it stood at 128,504. Silk, textiles, and cigars were once major products. Farms cover 43 percent of the land, and Northumberland is a leading county for producing chickens, swine, soybeans, and barley.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 477 square miles (1,236 km2), of which, 460 square miles (1,191 km2) of it is land and 17 square miles (45 km2) of it (3.66%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Lycoming County (north)
  • Montour County (northeast)
  • Columbia County (east)
  • Schuylkill County (southeast)
  • Dauphin County (south)
  • Perry County (southwest)
  • Juniata County (west)
  • Snyder County (west)
  • Union County (west)


Public school districts

Danville Area School District (also in Montour County)
Line Mountain School District
Milton Area School District (also in Union County)
Mount Carmel Area School District (also in Columbia County)
Shamokin Area School District
Shikellamy School District
Southern Columbia Area School District (also in Columbia County)
Warrior Run School District (also in Montour and Union Counties)

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