State College, PA Surrounding Towns and Neighbors
On Route 144, just over Centre Hall Mountain from Pleasant Gap, this pretty country town is home to the oldest encampment fair in the nation-the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair. It's been an annual event for more than a century, with hundreds of families coming to live in tents (and now RVs) for the entire 10 days of the agricultural fair and carnival. The fair ground is surrounded by the town and is also host to other events. The town has its own grocer, drug store, car dealership and many services. The Progress Grange serves as the town's meeting place. The former railroad station is now a quaint restaurant. Centre Hall is in the Penns Valley Area School District.
Now a quiet town at the edge of Bald Eagle State Park and Foster Joseph Sayers Dam, Howard was once known as the producer of some of the finest rolled iron in the United States.
In the Bald Eagle Valley, nearly equidistant from Lock Haven (Clinton County) and Bellefonte, the town is on the bands of the Bald Eagle Creek. The damming of the creek to create the recreation area changed the town a bit but added a large lake for fishing, boating and swimming. Howard Township has a population of about 1,000 people. It is in the Bald Eagle Area School District.
"At the light in Lemont." If that's not the exact location of what you're looking for in this College Township village, it's bound to be close. Lemont just isn't very big.
And the light is a tradition that carries more significance than just being a traffic signal. Around the turn of the century, physician Jared Dale lived in a large and ornate house at the intersection of the Bellefonte-Boalsburg Pike and the Agricultural Junction Turnpike. Dr. Dale's extravagant home was illuminated by a huge gasoline-powered floodlight, which served as a rather ostentatious landmark, "the light in Lemont." Even now, Lemont retains an off-the-beaten-path atmosphere, though it's just seconds from East College Avenue/Route 26, one of the county's busiest thoroughfares. Lemont's eclectic mixture of businesses and homes includes the Center for Well-Being, Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania and quaint shops. Lemont is part of the State College Area School District.
Madisonburg & Rebersburg
The two principal towns in easternmost Miles Township, these pretty country villages were both laid out by members of the Reber family-Rebersburg in 1809 and Madisonburg in 1816. Known as Brush Valley, this tranquil rural area traversed by Route 192 got its first post office in 1828.
Local Amish and Mennonite farmers have kept their farms much as they were in the last century. Now cars and trucks mingle with buggies on the roadways, though some Amish homes still run without electricity. Professional families treasure their retreats among these gentle folks. The entire township has population of just 1,500.
Madisonburg has a few craft shops and a community center for local gatherings. Rebersburg is a bit larger, with a few more stores and the Miles Township Elementary School. Grade-school children from both towns go to this school of 120-plus students, part of the Penns Valley Area School District.
The area is known for fresh produce at roadside stands, local baked goods and pottery and bulk food stores. Fisher Brothers Harness Shop has a reputation for its fine leather goods, and local craftsmen make beautiful outdoor furniture, sheds and arbors.
In the early days of the 19th century, the story goes, Milesburg (or "Milesborough," as it was called in those days) was as far as barge traffic could go on Bald Eagle Creek. One day heavy rains swelled the creek. A group from Bellefonte hitched some horses to one of the barges and with the help of the high water, managed to pull the barge all the way to Bellefonte. Officials in Lancaster were then notified that since Bellefonte was now the terminus of barge traffic in Centre County, it should be made the county seat. Eventually it was.
Today Milesburg is a quiet little borough of 1,200 where Bald Eagle and Spring creeks come together, and Exit 23 of Interstate 80. One of the oldest communities in Central Pennsylvania, Milesburg celebrated its bicentennial in 1993. It is in the Bald Eagle Area School District.
This little village east of State College on PA Route 45 was laid out by Philip Gunkle in 1797. The name means "home of the mills," referring to the Hubler Mill and the Gunkle Mill, which both operated on Elk Creek at the time. The Millheim Hotel, operated as early as 1806, continues to serve to this day as a hotel, restaurant and tavern. Millheim Borough has approximately 847 residents and is part of the Penns Valley Area School District.
July 1997 marked 200 years of Philipsburg history, and Philipsburg is a town where history really shows. Among the first things a visitor notices when entering the borough are the beautiful, stately turn-of-the-century homes. Then there are the fountain park and Union Church, looking about the same as they did 100 years ago.
Philipsburg has another unique feature: the Rowland Theatre. In an age of multiplex cinemas, taking in a movie at the 1,000-seat Rowland is a step back to a time when theaters were ornate affairs with huge screen. About 3,000 people call this borough home. Philipsburg lies in the western reaches of Centre County along the Clearfield County line, approximately 40 minutes from State College. It is part of the Philipsburg-Osceola School District.
Pine Grove Mills, in Ferguson Township, is a pleasant, close-knit community-a place where people feel good about making their homes and raising their families. There are churches, schools and friendly neighbors in abundance. And with quiet neighborhoods nestled on the lower slopes of the mountain, Pine Grove Mills has proven to be an ideal village in which to live.
Pine Grove Mills is just minutes south of State College on PA Route 26. It is in the State College Area School District.
In a burst of patriotism during the Spanish-American War, women of Pleasant Gap created a huge American Flag measuring 85 by 65 feet to display in the gap in Nittany Mountain over the town. It took a lot of work to get the flag up. Men had to cut through heavy underbrush to get to the trees where the banner would be anchored. Unfortunately, the flag only lasted a few months after its 1898 unfurling celebration. It was so big, and the wind so strong, that it was ripped to shreds, and attempts to fix it failed.
That giant flag may have lasted only a short time, but Pleasant Gap has been around since the early 18th century, when it served as a stagecoach stop in the Pennsylvania wilderness. Nearly 3,300 people now call this Spring Township village home.
Pleasant Gap lies north of State College, on PA Route 144 between PA Routes 26 and 45, and is part of the Bellefonte Area School District.
Near the southwest corner of the county at the base of Muncy Mountain, Port Matilda is at the busy crossroads of Routes 322 and 220. Squire Beckwith formed the town plot in 1850 and named the village in honor of his daughter. When public roads were completed two years later, the town became a daily stagecoach stop between Tyrone and Bellefonte. These days, Port Matilda is a growing Bedroom community of State College. Port Matilda students attend either State College or Bald Eagle schools.
In a remote wooded area known appropriately as The Mountaintop, the town of Snow Shoe has an elevation 850 feet above Bellefonte and about 2,000 feet above sea level. It was once linked to Bellefonte by railway. An old history declares Snow Shoe is at least seven degrees cooler in the summer, although winters are no more severe.
For a log time, the area was a popular summer resort known for its fresh mountain air and scenery. Today it remains an essential tourist stopover as a major exit, rest stop and information center for Interstate 80. Coal mining and lumbering were the area's early industries, now being replaced with other commerce.
The town is quite self-sufficient, with stores, services and restaurants. The area has its own medical center, ambulance service, senior center and home health care. Show Shoe Borough has a population of more than 800 and is part of the Bald Eagle Area School District. Popular Black Moshannon State Park is south of the town.