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Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Somerset County Courthouse Pa 2012.jpg
Somerset County Courthouse
Seal of Somerset County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Somerset County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
Founded April 17, 1795
Seat Somerset
Largest city Somerset
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

1,081 sq mi (2,800 km²)
1,075 sq mi (2,784 km²)
7 sq mi (18 km²), 0.60%
 - (2010)
 - Density

72/sq mi (27.9/km²)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Somerset County is a county located in the state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 77,742.[1] Its county seat is Somerset.[2] Somerset County was created on April 17, 1795, from part of Bedford County and named for Somerset, United Kingdom. It is part of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Statistical Area.


According to the U.S. 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) is land and 7 square miles (17 km²) (0.60%) is water.[3] Somerset County is one of the far southern counties of Pennsylvania, along its straight southern edge. The county borders Garrett and Allegany Counties in Maryland, and the Pennsylvania counties of Fayette, Westmoreland, Cambria, and Bedford.


Somerset County is one of the snowiest inhabited locations in the United States, with the highest elevations of the county averaging 150+ inches of snow each winter. The county's elevation and general proximity to both the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean causes snow from both Nor'easters and lake effect upslope snow events to fall from late October through early April. Snow has been recorded in Somerset County in every month except July, although local lore has it that even July saw snow in 1816, "the year without a summer." Mount Davis, the highest natural point in the state of Pennsylvania at 3,213 feet (979 m), is located in the southern part of the County.

Major highways[]

  • I-70 (PA).svgI-76 (PA).svgPennsylvania Turnpike logo.svg Interstate 70/Interstate 76 (PA Turnpike)
  • US 30.svg U.S. Route 30
  • US 40.svg U.S. Route 40
  • US 219.svg U.S. Route 219
  • PA-31.svg State Route 31
  • PA-56.svg State Route 56
  • PA-160.svg State Route 160
  • PA-281.svg State Route 281
  • PA-601.svg State Route 601

Adjacent counties[]

National protected area[]

  • Flight 93 National Memorial


  • US 30.svg U.S. Route 30 (Lincoln Highway)
  • PA-31.svg Route 31
  • I-70.svgI-76.svgPennsylvania Turnpike logo.svg Pennsylvania Turnpike
  • PA-160.svg Pennsylvania Route 160
  • US 219.svg U.S. Route 219 (the southern portion as the Mason-Dixon Highway)
  • PA-281.svg Pennsylvania Route 281
  • PA-403.svg Pennsylvania Route 403
  • PA-601.svg Pennsylvania Route 601
  • PA-653.svg Pennsylvania Route 653
  • PA-985.svg Pennsylvania Route 985

Former route[]

  • PA-131.svg Route 131 (1928–1946) now Buena Road

Government and politics[]

As of November 2010, there are 53,527 registered voters in Somerset County [2].

  • Republican: 25,248 (49.61%)
  • Democratic: 21,574 (42.39%)
  • Other Parties: 4,065 (7.99%)

County Commissioners[]

  • John Vatavuk, Democrat, Chair
  • Joe Betta, Republican, Vice Chair
  • Pamela Tokar-Ickes, Democrat, Secretary

Other county offices[]

  • Clerk of Courts, Rose Svonavec, Republican
  • District Attorney, Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, Democrat
  • Prothonotary, Angie Svonovec, Democrat
  • Recorder of Deeds, Lorraine K. Barron, Republican
  • Register of Wills, Sharon Ackerman, Republican
  • Sheriff, John Mankey, Democrat
  • Treasurer, Donna Schmitt, Democrat
  • Auditors - Jerry Lyons(R), Annette Isgan(R), John Steele(D)

State Representatives[]

  • Carl Walker Metzgar, Republican, 69th district
  • Frank Burns, Democrat, 72nd district

State Senator[]

  • Rich Kasunic, Democrat, 32nd district
  • John N. Wozniak, Democrat, 35th district

US Representative[]

  • Bill Shuster, Republican, 9th district
  • Keith Rothfus, Republican, 12th district

Pennsylvania State Police[]

  • Station Commander, Sergeant James P. Shaw


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1800 10,188
1810 11,284 10.8%
1820 13,974 23.8%
1830 17,762 27.1%
1840 19,650 10.6%
1850 24,416 24.3%
1860 26,778 9.7%
1870 28,226 5.4%
1880 33,110 17.3%
1890 37,317 12.7%
1900 49,461 32.5%
1910 67,717 36.9%
1920 82,112 21.3%
1930 80,764 −1.6%
1940 84,957 5.2%
1950 81,813 −3.7%
1960 77,450 −5.3%
1970 76,037 −1.8%
1980 81,243 6.8%
1990 78,218 −3.7%
2000 80,023 2.3%
2010 77,742 −2.9%
Est. 2012 76,957 −3.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[4]
2012 Estimate[1]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 80,023 people, 31,222 households, and 22,042 families residing in the county. The population density was 74 people per square mile (29/km²). There were 37,163 housing units at an average density of 35 per square mile (13/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.39% White, 1.59% Black or African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.21% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.31% from other races, and 0.40% from two or more races. 0.66% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 41.5% were of German, 10.4% American, 7.4% Italian, 6.4% Irish, 6.4% Polish and 5.8% English ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 31,222 households out of which 29.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.30% were married couples living together, 8.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.40% were non-families. 26.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.30% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 27.80% from 25 to 44, 24.30% from 45 to 64, and 18.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 99.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.90 males.


Somerset County is situated along the eastern border of the Allegheny Plateau physiographic province, which is characterized by gently folded to flat-lying sedimentary rocks of middle to late Paleozoic age. The eastern border of the county is approximately at the Allegheny Front, a geological boundary between the Allegheny Plateau and the Ridge and Valley Province (characterized by folded and faulted sedimentary rocks of early to middle Paleozoic age).[6]

The stratigraphic record of sedimentary rocks within the county spans from the Devonian Scherr Formation to the Pennsylvanian Monongahela Formation. Most of these rocks are clastics (conglomerate, sandstone, shale), and there is little or no limestone exposed at the surface. No igneous or metamorphic rocks of any kind exist within the county.

Structurally, Somerset County has many gentle folds, the axes of which trend roughly north-northeast. Synclines include the Youghiogheny Syncline, New Lexington/Johnstown Syncline, Somerset Syncline, Berlin Syncline, and Wellersburg Syncline (called the George's Creek Syncline in Maryland). The southern end of Wilmore Syncline is at the town of Windber. Anticlines include the Laurel Hill Anticline, Centerville Dome, Boswell Dome, Negro Mountain Anticline, and an unnamed anticline between the Berlin and Wellersburg Synclines.

The primary mountains within the county are (from west to east) Laurel Hill (which forms part of the western border), Negro Mountain, Meadow Mountain, Savage Mountain, and Allegheny Mountain. Negro Mountain also includes Mount Davis, the highest peak in Pennsylvania. Each mountain trends northeast.

All of Somerset County lies far to the south of the glacial boundary, and thus it was never glaciated.[7] However, during the Pleistocene epoch (the Ice Age), periglacial processes dominated. Most of the county was most likely a tundra during the Pleistocene. Patterned ground typical of tundra is still visible at Mount Davis, although it is somewhat obscured by vegetation.

The main drainages in southwestern Somerset county are the Casselman River and Laurel Hill Creek which flow into the Youghiogheny River along the southwest border. In the northwest, Stonycreek River, Shade Creek, and Quemahoning Creek (which flows into the Quemahoning Reservoir) are tributaries of the Conemaugh River. All these drainages are part of the Mississippi River Watershed. In the southeast, Wills Creek flows east into Bedford County and then into Maryland where it joins the Potomac River. Also, the headwaters of the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River are to the east of the town of Somerset. Both the Potomac and Juniata rivers are part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Coal fields exist within Somerset County. The coal is entirely bituminous, and much of it has been mined or is being mined by Strip mining. Most of the coal is within the Main Bituminous Field, which stretched north and west to adjacent counties and southward into Maryland and West Virginia. The rest is within the Georges Creek Field.[8]

There are many abandoned mines in the county, and acid mine drainage is an environmental problem in many areas. Fishless streams exist as a result of the discharge from the abandoned mines. These include parts of the Casselman River, Shade Creek, Stonycreek River, and Quemahoning Creek, as well as many of their tributaries.[9]

There are many small, deep natural gas fields in the northwestern part of the county.[10]

Recent history[]

Somerset County gained worldwide attention in 2001 when a hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed in Stonycreek Township, near the town of Shanksville as part of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. The most likely target of this flight was the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The terrorists' plans for this plane were thwarted by the actions of the passengers and crew. Their bravery is honored and the crash site, which is the final resting place of the passengers and crew, is now protected as part of the Flight 93 National Memorial, under the care of the National Park System. See also USS Somerset, a U.S. Navy warship which is to be named in commemoration of the Flight 93 tragedy.

In July 2002, Somerset County again made worldwide news when nine coal miners were rescued from several hundred feet underground at the Quecreek mine after an intense multi-day struggle.

Somerset County in arts and literature[]

The Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania, was one of the nation's first "summer-stock" theaters. The Mountain Playhouse has maintained a full schedule of live theater productions nightly from May through October each year for the last sixty years.

Notable people[]

  • Alexander Hamilton Coffroth (1828–1906), 19th-century Democratic U.S. Representative and Abraham Lincoln's final pallbearer to die
  • Joseph Darby, former US Army sergeant who as the first soldier to take official action against suspected and later confirmed mistreatment of prisoners by other soldiers in Abu Ghraib
  • Howard Shultz Miller, U.S. Representative from Kansas.[11]


Map of Somerset County, Pennsylvania with Municipal Labels showing Boroughs (red), Townships (white), and Census-designated places (blue).

Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in at most two cases, towns. The following boroughs and townships are located in Somerset County:


  • Addison
  • Benson
  • Berlin
  • Boswell
  • Callimont
  • Casselman
  • Central City
  • Confluence
  • Garrett
  • Hooversville
  • Indian Lake
  • Jennerstown
  • Meyersdale
  • New Baltimore
  • New Centerville
  • Paint
  • Rockwood


  • Addison Township
  • Allegheny Township
  • Black Township
  • Brothersvalley Township
  • Conemaugh Township
  • Elk Lick Township
  • Fairhope Township
  • Greenville Township
  • Jefferson Township
  • Jenner Township
  • Larimer Township
  • Lincoln Township
  • Lower Turkeyfoot Township
  • Middlecreek Township
  • Milford Township
  • Northampton Township
  • Ogle Township
  • Paint Township
  • Quemahoning Township
  • Shade Township
  • Somerset Township
  • Southampton Township
  • Stonycreek Township
  • Summit Township
  • Upper Turkeyfoot Township

Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, may be listed here as well.

Census-designated places[]

  • Cairnbrook
  • Davidsville
  • Edie
  • Friedens
  • Jerome

Other unincorporated communities[]

  • Acosta
  • Gray
  • Jenners
  • Markleton
  • Springs

Map of Somerset County, Pennsylvania School Districts


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)


There are 4 Pennsylvania state parks in Somerset County.

  • Kooser State Park
  • Laurel Hill State Park
  • Laurel Mountain State Park
  • Laurel Ridge State Park

See also[]

  • Cambria Somerset Authority - Water supply authority for Cambria County and Somerset County
  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Somerset County, Pennsylvania
  • Flight 93 National Memorial - unit of the National Park System that protects the crash site of Flight 93 which the final resting place of the passengers and crew.


External links[]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Community Festivals

Coordinates: 39°58′N 79°02′W / 39.97, -79.03

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.