Home: Huntingdon, PA: The Coolest Small Town in Pennsylvania!
Huntingdon, PA: The Coolest Small Town in Pennsylvania!
Budget Travel Magazine has announced that Huntingdon, PA is the Coolest Small Town in Pennsylvania and is number 5 on its list of the Coolest Small Towns in America for 2009!
Located in the Allegheny Mountains of south central Pennsylvania, the Borough of Huntingdon is indeed deserving of this title. Huntingdon, originally dubbed "Standing Stone" by Native Americans is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in Pennsylvania. As the source of the main branch of the Juniata (pronounced joo-nee-AT-a) River, where the Frankstown, Little Juniata, and Raystown Branches all converge within 10 miles to form the River, Huntingdon has always been a natural stopping point along heavily traveled transportation arteries.
The Juniata River carves its way through the steep slopes of the Appalachian Ridges of The Alleghenies, making it the easiest path from Harrisburg and points east to Altoona and points west, including Pittsburgh. Engineers recognized this fact when laying out and constructing the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, and eventually the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad (now Norfolk Southern Railroad), and US Route 22, known as the William Penn Highway.
Huntingdon, throughout its history, has had an economy based on natural resources from lumber, coal, sandstone, limestone to the current-day outdoor recreation and tourism. J.C. Blair started a paper mill in Huntingdon and invented the paper tablet. Blair's paper mill grew and merged with other paper companies and is now known as Mead-Westvaco, which still has a presence in the area.
Today, outdoor recreation, culture, and education are three of the top draws for visitors to Huntingdon, PA. The 8,300-acre, 30-mile long Raystown Lake was created in the early 1970s by an Army Corps of Engineers flood control dam on the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River just 3.5 miles from the center of Huntingdon. The Raystown Lake Recreation Area welcomes nearly 2 million visitors per year to the lake and the public land surrounding it for world-class fishing, hiking, hunting, mountain biking, boating and more in scenery that has been rated as some of the 100 Best Scenic Views in America by ReserveAmerica.com's The Camping Club!
In addition to Raystown Lake, outdoor enthusiasts are treated to nearby Greenwood Furnace, Whipple Dam, and Trough Creek State Parks, Rothrock State Forest, and numerous State Gamelands.
Anglers find the Huntingdon area to be a Mecca for their sport. Fly-fishing is king on Spruce Creek, Aughwick Creek, Standing Stone Creek, Shaver's Creek and Great Trough Creek, all within 10 miles of Huntingdon, and all world-class trout streams. All of the tributaries of the Juniata River in the Huntingdon area are great fisheries as well. Raystown Lake is home to many state record fish, and is a favorite spot for fishers of striped bass, muskies, large-mouth bass, small-mouth bass, lake trout, and more.
Arts, culture and heritage thrive in Huntingdon, PA. Downtown Huntingdon has a fantastic mural program, with local artists contributing to murals on buildings, walls, trestle-piers, and other public spaces. Mayfest, a quirky little street fair that happens the last Saturday in April (Mayfest in April? Like I said, it's quirky!), showcases different eras in history, complete with costumes, jails, music, dancing, and games. The Huntingdon County Arts Council also hosts Folk College, the River Arts Festival at the Trestle (RAFT), and the Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering, and a summer concert series to involve and immerse people in the arts!
Contributing to the heritage and cool atmosphere of Huntingdon is Juniata College's Baker-Evans Peace Chapel. The stone-circle, open-air chapel is located on a remote hilltop adjacent to Huntingdon's Flagpole Hill, and was designed by world-renowned architect Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington, DC.