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Lancaster County
Lancaster County Courthouse
Lancaster County Courthouse
Official seal of Lancaster County
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County
Location within the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Map of the United States highlighting Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Pennsylvania
Founded May 10, 1729
Named for Lancaster, Lancashire
Seat Lancaster
Largest city Lancaster
 • Total 984 sq mi (2,550 km2)
 • Land 944 sq mi (2,440 km2)
 • Water 40 sq mi (100 km2)  4.1%
 • Total 552,984
 • Density 561.98/sq mi (216.98/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 11th

Lancaster County ( Pennsylvania Dutch: Lengeschder Kaundi) sometimes nicknamed the Garden Spot of America or Pennsylvania Dutch Country, is a county located in the south central part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As of the 2020 census, the population was 552,984. Its county seat is Lancaster.

Lancaster County comprises the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The County of Lancaster is a popular tourist destination, with its Amish community a major attraction. Contrary to popular belief, the word "Dutch" in "Pennsylvania Dutch" is not a mistranslation, but rather a corruption of the Pennsylvania German endonym Deitsch, which means "Pennsylvania Dutch / German" or "German". Ultimately, the terms Deitsch, Dutch, Diets and Deutsch are all cognates of the Proto-Germanic word *þiudiskaz meaning "popular" or "of the people". The continued use of "Dutch" instead of "German" was strengthened by the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 19th century as a way of distinguishing themselves from later (post 1830) waves of German immigrants to the United States, with the Pennsylvania Dutch referring to themselves as Deitsche and to Germans as Deitschlenner (literally "Germany-ers", compare Deutschland-er) whom they saw as a related but distinct group.

The ancestors of the Amish began to immigrate to colonial Pennsylvania in the early 18th century to take advantage of the religious freedom offered by William Penn. They were also attracted by the area's rich soil and mild climate. Also attracted to promises of religious freedom, French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution settled this area in 1710. There were also significant numbers of English, Welsh and Ulster Scots (also known as the Scotch-Irish in the colonies).


The area that became Lancaster County was part of William Penn's 1681 charter. John Kennerly received the first recorded deed from Penn in 1691. Although Matthias Kreider was said to have been in the area as early as 1691, there is no evidence that any Europeans settled in Lancaster County before 1710.

Lancaster County was part of Chester County, Pennsylvania until May 10, 1729, when it was organized as the fourth county in the state. Lancaster County was named after the city of Lancaster in the county of Lancashire in England, the native home of John Wright, one of the early settlers. As settlement increased, six other counties were subsequently formed from territory directly taken, in all or in part, from Lancaster County: Berks (1752), Cumberland (1750), Dauphin (1785), Lebanon (1813), Northumberland (1772), and York (1749). Many other counties were in turn formed from these six.

Indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples had occupied the areas along the waterways for thousands of years, and established varying cultures. Historic Native American tribes in the area at the time of European encounter included the Shawnee, Susquehannock, Gawanese, Lenape (or Delaware), and Nanticoke peoples, who were from different language families and had distinct cultures.

Among the earliest recorded inhabitants of the Susquehanna River valley were the Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannock, whose name was derived from the Lenape term for "Oyster River People". (The Lenape spoke an Algonquian language.) The English called them the Conestoga, after the name of their principal village, Gan'ochs'a'go'jat'ga ("Roof-place" or "town"), anglicized as "Conestoga." Other places occupied by the Susquehannock were Ka'ot'sch'ie'ra ("Place-crawfish"), where present-day Chickisalunga developed, and Gasch'guch'sa ("Great-fall-in-river"), now called Conewago Falls, Lancaster County).

Other Native tribes, as well as early European settlers, considered the Susquehannock a mighty nation, experts in war and trade. They were beaten only by the combined power of the Five Nation Iroquois Confederacy, after colonial Maryland withdrew its support. After 1675, the Susquehannock were totally absorbed by the Iroquois. A handful were settled at "New Conestoga," located along the south-bank of the Conestoga River in Conestoga Township of the county. They helped staff an Iroquois consulate to the English in Maryland and Virginia (and later, Pennsylvania). By the 1720s, the colonists considered the Conestoga Indians as a "civilized" or "friendly tribe," having been converted in large part to Christianity, speaking English as a second language, making brooms and baskets for sale, and naming children after their favorite neighbors.

The outbreak of Pontiac's War in the summer of 1763, coupled with the ineffective policies of the provincial government, aroused widespread settler suspicion and hatred against all Indians in the frontier counties, without distinguishing among hostile and friendly peoples. On December 14, 1763, the Paxton Boys, led by Matthew Smith and Capt. Lazarus Stewart, attacked Conestoga, killing the six Indians present, and burning all the house and stores. Officials sheltered the fourteen survivors of the tribe in protective custody in the county jail, but the Paxton Boys returned on December 27, broke into the jail, and massacred the remaining Conestoga. The lack of effective government control and widespread sympathy in the frontier counties for the Paxton Boys meant they were never discovered or brought to justice.

Maryland-Pennsylvania boundary dispute

The Maryland-Pennsylvania boundary dispute: The conflict occurred in the Conejohela Valley with the northern apex just north of the mid-river Coejohela Flats islands, south of Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. These were inundated after the Safe Harbor Dam flooded the upper Coejoheala under Lake Clarke.

Pennsylvania had a longstanding dispute with Maryland about the southern border of the province and Lancaster County. Nine years of armed clashes accompanied the Maryland-Pennsylvania boundary dispute, which began soon after the 1730 establishment of Wright's Ferry across the Susquehanna River. Lord Baltimore believed that his grant to Maryland extended to the 40th parallel. This was about halfway between present-day Lancaster and the town of Willow Street, Pennsylvania. This line of demarcation would have resulted in Philadelphia's being included in Maryland.

New settlers began to cross the Susquehanna. In 1730 the Wright's Ferry services were licensed and officially begun. Starting in mid-1730, Thomas Cresap, acting on behalf of Lord Baltimore, began confiscating the newly settled farms near present-day Peach Bottom and Columbia, Pennsylvania (at the time this was not named, but it was first called "Wright's Ferry", as noted on map). Believing he controlled this land under his grant, Lord Baltimore wanted the income from the lands. He had believed he had a defensible claim established on the west bank of the Susquehanna since 1721, and that his demesne and grant extended to forty degrees north. If he allowed Pennsylvanians to settle his lands without reacting, their squatting would constitute a counter claim.

Cresap established a second ferry in the upper Conejohela downriver from John Wright's, and near Peach Bottom. He demanded that settlers either move out or pay Maryland for the right-bank lands. Settlers believed they already had rights to these under Pennsylvania grants. Cresap drove off settlers by vandalizing farms and killing livestock; he pushed out settlers from southern York and Lancaster counties. He gave the abandoned lands to his followers. If a follower was arrested by Lancaster authorities, the Marylanders broke him out of the lockup.

Lord Baltimore negotiated a compromise in 1733, but Cresap ignored it and continued his raids. In 1736, Cresap was finally arrested; he was jailed until 1737 when the King intervened. In 1750, a court decided that, by failing to develop the land with settlers, Lord Baltimore had forfeited his rights to a twenty-mile (32 km) swath of land. In 1767, a new Pennsylvania-Maryland border was officially established by the Mason-Dixon line.

Diversity of settlers

The names of the original Lancaster County townships reflect the diverse national origins of settlers in the new county: two had Welsh names (Caernarvon and Lampeter), three had Native American names (Cocalico, Conestoga and Peshtank or Paxton), six were English (Warwick, Lancaster, Martic, Sadsbury, Salisbury and Hempfield); four were Irish (Donegal, Drumore, Derry, and Leacock), reflecting mostly Scots-Irish (or Ulster Scots) from Ulster, a province in the north of Ireland; Manheim was German, Lebanon came from the Bible, a basis of all the European cultures; and Earl was a translation of the German surname of Graf or Groff.

Lithograph of Thaddeus Stevens

19th-century statesmen

Lancaster County's native son James Buchanan, a Democrat, was elected as the 15th President of the United States in 1856, the only Pennsylvania native to hold the presidency. His home Wheatland is now operated as a house museum in Lancaster.

Thaddeus Stevens, the noted Radical Republican, served Lancaster County in the United States House of Representatives from 1849–1853 and from 1859 until his death in 1868. Stevens left a $50,000 bequest to start an orphanage. This property eventually was developed as the state-owned Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. Both men are buried in Lancaster.

Slavery and the Christiana incident

Pennsylvania abolished slavery in 1780, with gradual implementation. The existing 6000 slaves in Pennsylvania remained slaves, and the registered children of those slaves were enslaved until their 28th birthday. The last slave child registered in Pennsylvania was Haley, born in 1811, who became a freedman no later than 1839. Pennsylvania was fully a free state when the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was passed by Congress as part of the Compromise of 1850. It regarded slaves brought voluntarily to the state by their masters as free, and did not pay compensation if the slave chose to take freedom in the state.

Immediately north of the Mason-Dixon line, bordered by the Susquehanna River which had been a traditional route from the Chesapeake Bay watershed into the heart of what became Pennsylvania, Lancaster County was an important destination of the Underground Railroad in the antebellum years. Many of the people of German descent opposed slavery and cooperated in aiding fugitive slaves. Local Lancaster County resident Charles Spotts found 17 stations. They included hiding places with trap doors, hidden vaults, an underground cave, and one with a brick tunnel leading to Octoraro Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna.

Edward Gorsuch was not known to beat his slaves. As a wealthy Maryland wheat farmer, he had manumitted several slaves in their 20s. He allowed his slaves to work for cash elsewhere during the slow season. Upon finding some of his wheat missing, he thought his slaves sold it to a local farmer. His slaves Noah Buley, Nelson Ford, George Ford, and Joshua Hammond, fearing his bad temper, fled across the Mason–Dixon line to the farm of William Parker, a mulatto free man and abolitionist who lived in Christiana, Pennsylvania. Parker, 29, was member of the Lancaster Black Self-Protection Society and known to use violence to defend himself and the fugitive slaves who sought refuge in the area.

Gorsuch obtained four warrants and organized four parties, which set out separately with federal marshals to recover his property—the four slaves. He was killed and others were wounded. While Gorsuch was legally entitled to recover his slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act, it is not clear who precipitated the violence. The incident was variously called the "Christiana Riot", "Christiana Resistance", the "Christiana Outrage", and the "Christiana Tragedy". The Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society helped provide defense for the suspects charged in the case.

The event frightened slaveholders, as black men not only fought back but prevailed. Some feared this would inspire enslaved African Americans and encourage rebelliousness. The case was prosecuted in Philadelphia U.S. District Court under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required citizens to cooperate in the capture and return of fugitive slaves. The disturbance caused regional and racial tensions to flare up more. In the North, it added to the push to abolish slavery.

In September 1851, the grand jury returned a "true bill" (indictment) against 38 suspects, who were held in Philadelphia's Moyamensing Prison to await trial. U.S. District Judge John K. Kane ruled that the men could be tried for treason.

The only person actually tried was Castner Hanway, a white man, who on November 15, 1851 was tried for liberating slaves taken into custody by U.S. Marshal Kline, as well as for resisting arrest, conspiracy, and treason. Hanway's responsibility for the violent events was unclear. He was reported as one of the first on the scene where Gorsuch and others of his party were attacked, and he and his horse provided cover for Dickerson, Gorsuch and Dr. Pearce, who were wounded. The jury deliberated 15 minutes before returning a Not Guilty. Among the five defense lawyers, recruited by the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, was U.S. Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, who had practiced law in Lancaster County since at least 1838.

Religious history

The oldest surviving dwelling of European settlers in the county is that of Mennonite Bishop Hans Herr, built in 1719. In 1989, Donald Kraybill counted 37 distinct religious bodies/organizations, with 289 congregations and 41,600 baptized members, among the plain sects who are descendants of the Anabaptist Mennonite immigrants to Lancaster County. The Mennonite Central Committee in Akron supports relief in disasters and provides manpower and material to local organizations for their direction in relief efforts.

The town of Lititz was originally planned as a closed community, founded early in the 1740s by members of the Moravian Church. The town eventually grew and welcomed its neighbors. The Moravian Church established Linden Hall School for Girls in 1746; it is one of the earliest educational institutions in continuous operation in the United States.

In addition to the Ephrata Cloister, the United Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) trace their beginnings to a 1767 meeting at the Isaac Long barn, near the hamlet of Oregon, in West Lampeter Township. The EUB, a German Methodist church, merged in 1968 with the traditionally English Methodist Episcopal Church to become the United Methodist Church.

The first Jewish resident was Isaac Miranda of land "in trust for the society of Jews settled in and about Lancaster," to be used as a place of burial. Today, this cemetery is still in use by; it is considered the fourth-oldest Jewish cemetery in the United States.

In the early 21st century, Lancaster County is home to three synagogues, the Orthodox Degel Israel, the Conservative Beth El, and the Reform Shaarai Shomayim. In 2003 Rabbi Elazar Green & Shira Green founded the Chabad Jewish Enrichment Center, a branch of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, that focuses on serving the Jewish students of Franklin and Marshall College, as well serving the general community with specific religious services. The larger community enjoys a Jewish Community Center which hosts a preschool, and a catering hall. The Lancaster Mikvah Association runs a mikveh on Degel Israel's property. Central PA Kosher Stand is operated at Dutch Wonderland, a seasonal amusement park.

This area was also settled by French Huguenots, who had fled to England and then the colonies in the late 1600s and early 1700s to escape religious persecution from Catholics in France. Among the first residents of this group was Isaac LeFèvre, who with a group of other Huguenots settled in the area of the Pequea Creek.


A Pennsylvania Dutch Fraktur baptismal certificate from 1788
  • Fraktur, the artistic and elaborate 18th- century and 19th-century hand-illuminated folk art inspired by German blackface type, originated at Johann Conrad Beissel's cloister of German Seventh Day Baptists in Ephrata.
  • The first battery-powered watch, the Hamilton Electric 500, was released in 1957 by the Hamilton Watch Company.
  • The Pennsylvania Long Rifle, otherwise known as the "Kentucky" (Long) Rifle.
  • The Conestoga wagon, which started the practice of driving right-of-center.
  • The Stogie cigar The word Stogie is a shortened form of Conestoga.
  • The Amish quilt, a highly utilitarian art form, dates to 1849 in Lancaster County.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 984 square miles (2,550 km2), of which 944 square miles (2,440 km2) is land and 40 square miles (100 km2) (4.1%) is water.


Almost all of Lancaster County is in the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin, via the Susquehanna River watershed (the exception is a small unnamed tributary of the West Branch of Brandywine Creek that rises in eastern Salisbury Township and is part of the Delaware River watershed). The major streams in the county (with percent area drained) are: Conestoga River and Little Conestoga Creek (31.42%); Pequea Creek (15.02%); Chiques Creek (or Chickies Creek, 12.07%); Cocalico Creek (11.25%); Octoraro Creek (10.74%); and Conowingo Creek (3.73%).

Protected areas

Lancaster County is home to Susquehannock State Park, located on 224 acres (91 ha) overlooking the Susquehanna River in Drumore Township. One of the three tracts comprising William Penn State Forest, the 10-acre (4.0 ha) Cornwall fire tower site, is located in northern Penn Township near the Lebanon County border. The site, with its 1923 fire tower, was acquired by the state in January, 1935.

There are also six Pennsylvania State Game Lands for hunting, trapping, and fishing located in Lancaster County. They are numbers (with location and area): 46 (near Hopeland, 5,035 acres (2,038 ha)), 52 (near Morgantown, 1,447 acres (586 ha)), 136 (near Kirkwood, 91 acres (37 ha)), 156 (near Poplar Grove, 4,537 acres (1,836 ha)), 220 (near Reinholds, 96 acres (39 ha)), and 288 (near Martic Forge, 89 acres (36 ha)).

The southern border of Lancaster county has some protected serpentine barrens, a rare ecosystem where toxic metals in the soil inhibit the growth of plants and lead to the formation of natural grassland and savanna. These barrens include the New Texas Serpentine Barrens, privately owned land managed by The Nature Conservancy, and Rock Springs Nature Preserve, a publicly accessible preserve with hiking trails owned and managed by the Lancaster County Conservancy.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania also leads the nation in farmland preservation. Organizations like the Lancaster Farmland Trust, the Lancaster County Agricultural Preservation Board, and multiple municipalities work in partnership with landowners to preserve their farms and way of life for future generations by placing a conservation easement on their property. A conservation easement restricts real estate development, commercial and industrial uses, and certain other activities on the land that are mutually agreed upon by the grantees and the property owner. After giving up their development rights, landowners continue to manage and own their properties and may receive significant income tax breaks. The conservation easement ensures that the land will remain available for agricultural use forever. Lancaster Farmland Trust is a private, non-profit organization that works closely with the vast Amish and Plain-Sect communities of Lancaster County to ensure their farms will retain their agricultural value. Together with the Lancaster County Agricultural Preserve Board, the County is approaching a milestone of 100,000 acres (40,000 ha) of preserved farmland in the county—a first in the nation.


The area falls along the general track of the Appalachian Mountains along the east coast of the North America. As a result, residual seismic activity from ancient faulting occasionally produces minor earthquakes of magnitude 3 to 4. For example, on December 27, 2008, shortly after midnight, Lancaster County had a 3.3 magnitude earthquake which was widely felt in the Susquehanna Valley but caused no damage to structures.

Adjacent counties

Flora and fauna

The bog turtle was first discovered and identified by science in Lancaster County by botanist Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg. Muhlenberg discovered the turtle species accidentally while he was conducting a survey of the flora in Lancaster County. The species was named Muhlenberg's tortoise in 1801, but renamed bog turtle, its present common name, in 1956.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 36,081
1800 43,403 20.3%
1810 53,927 24.2%
1820 68,336 26.7%
1830 76,631 12.1%
1840 84,203 9.9%
1850 98,944 17.5%
1860 116,314 17.6%
1870 121,340 4.3%
1880 139,447 14.9%
1890 149,095 6.9%
1900 159,241 6.8%
1910 167,029 4.9%
1920 173,797 4.1%
1930 196,882 13.3%
1940 212,504 7.9%
1950 234,717 10.5%
1960 278,359 18.6%
1970 319,693 14.8%
1980 362,346 13.3%
1990 422,822 16.7%
2000 470,658 11.3%
2010 519,445 10.4%
2020 552,984 6.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2019 2020
Lancaster County Demographics
2013 County State U.S.
White 91.0% 83.2% 77.7%
African American 4.7% 11.5% 13.2%
Native American 0.4% 0.3% 1.2%
Asian 2.1% 3.1% 5.3%
Pacific Islander 0.1% 0.1% 0.2%
Two or more races 1.8% 1.8% 2.4%
Hispanic/Latino of any race 9.5% 6.3% 17.1%
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 83.6% 78.4% 62.6%
Growth rate of Lancaster County population (dark blue) lagged the growth rate of the U.S. population (magenta) until the second half of the 20th century. Chart shows population growth as a percentage of the previous decennial census.

As of the census of 2010, there were 519,445 people. The population density was 561 people per square mile (217/km2). There were 193,602 households. Of that number 135,401 (69.9%) were families. Of those families, 120,112 (88.7%) had children under the age of 18. There were 202,952 housing units at an average density of 215 per square mile (83/km2). The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 24.8% under the age of 18 and 15.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.60 males.

5.58% of the population and 8.37% of the children aged 5–17 reported speaking Pennsylvania Dutch, German, or Dutch at home, while a further 4.97% of the population spoke Spanish. 39.8% were of German, 11.8% United States or American, 7.2% Irish and 5.7% English ancestry.

Plain Anabaptist (Amish) groups

Lancaster County Anabaptist community founded in c. 1760, has the world's largest Amish settlement, with 37,000 people in 220 church districts in 2017, or about 7% of the county's population. By 2021 the Amish population increased to almost 42,000. The Lancaster Amish affiliation is relatively liberal concerning the use of technologies compared to other Amish affiliations.

Historically speaking, the Amish population in 1970 numbered only about 7,000; that climbed to about 12,400 by 1990 and 16,900 by 2000. It has doubled since then.

Lancaster also hosts other Plain Anabaptist groups. As of 2000, there are about 3,000 Old Order Mennonites of the Groffdale Conference who drive black top buggies instead of the grey top buggies of the Amish in Lancaster County. Other buggy-using Old Order Mennonites in Lancaster County are subgroups of the Stauffer Mennonites with 283 baptized members and the Reidenbach Mennonites with 232. There are about 4,000 members of the car-driving Weaverland Old Order Mennonite Conference. A congregation of 83 members of the Old Order River Brethren lives there as well as 84 members of the Reformed Mennonite Church who have retained the most conservative form of Plain dress of all Plain groups. There are 74 members of the Old German Baptist Brethren in Lancaster County.



Some County residents speak with a Pennsylvania Dutch-influenced dialect. This is most common in the Lancaster, Lebanon, York, and Harrisburg areas, and incorporates influences from the Pennsylvania Dutch in dialect and in nomenclature.

Metropolitan Statistical Area

The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Lancaster County as the Lancaster, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area. The United States Census Bureau ranked the Lancaster, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 102nd most populous metropolitan statistical area and the 100th most populous primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012. The Metro area ranks 8th most populous in the state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 US Census the population was 519,445.


Lying on the natural route from Philadelphia to the western part of Pennsylvania, Lancaster County has given rise to many improvements in transportation, such as the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, later part of the Lincoln Highway, in 1794, a canal in 1820, and the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in 1834.

Major roads and highways

  • I-76 / Penna Turnpike
  • US 30
  • US 222
  • US 322
  • PA 10
  • PA 23
  • PA 41
  • PA 72
  • PA 230
  • PA 241
  • PA 272
  • PA 283
  • PA 324
  • PA 340
  • PA 372
  • PA 441
  • PA 462
  • PA 472
  • PA 501
  • PA 625
  • PA 722
  • PA 741
  • PA 743
  • PA 772
  • PA 896
  • PA 897
  • PA 999

Current railroads

Lancaster Amtrak station, Sept 2012
The Lancaster Train Station, located on the Keystone Corridor, is the second busiest Amtrak station in Pennsylvania.

As of 2006, passenger service in Lancaster County is provided by Amtrak, whose Keystone Corridor passes through the county, with stops at Lancaster, Mount Joy and Elizabethtown. A station is planned at Paradise to provide connecting service with the Strasburg Railroad, which runs passenger excursions from nearby Leaman Place to Strasburg.

The principal freight operator in the county is Norfolk Southern Railway (NS). The NS main line follows the Susquehanna River (with trackage rights for Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR)), and leaves the county by crossing the river on Shocks Mills Bridge near Marietta. NS also has trackage rights over the Keystone Corridor, to which it is connected by the Royalton Branch, which runs north along the river from the main line at Marietta, and the Columbia Branch, which runs from the Corridor at Dillerville to the main line at Columbia. Two other NS branches originate on the Corridor: the Lititz Secondary, which runs from Dillerville to Manheim and ends at Lititz, and the New Holland Industrial, which leaves the Corridor around the east end of Lancaster to run east to New Holland and ends at East Earl.

Several shortlines also operate in the county. With the exception of the Strasburg Railroad, all are freight railroads. The East Penn Railroad (ESPN) operates on a spur off the NS branch to Manheim, and on a longer line in the northeast corner of Lancaster County into Berks County. Landisville Terminal and Transfer Company (LNTV) operates on a spur off the Amtrak line at Landisville. The Tyburn Railroad operates some trackage around Dillerville. The Columbia and Reading Railway (CORY) began operating on 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of track in Columbia in January 2010.


There are two public airports in Lancaster County. Lancaster Airport has scheduled passenger service, and Smoketown Airport serves general aviation users.


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

The following cities, boroughs, and townships are located in Lancaster County:



Christiana, Pennsylvania is the least populated borough in Lancaster County, as of 2010. Ephrata is the most populous.


  • Bart
  • Brecknock
  • Caernarvon
  • Clay
  • Colerain
  • Conestoga
  • Conoy
  • Drumore
  • Earl
  • East Cocalico
  • East Donegal
  • East Drumore
  • East Earl
  • East Hempfield
  • East Lampeter
  • Eden
  • Elizabeth
  • Ephrata
  • Fulton
  • Lancaster
  • Leacock
  • Little Britain
  • Manheim
  • Manor
  • Martic
  • Mount Joy
  • Paradise
  • Penn
  • Pequea
  • Providence
  • Rapho
  • Sadsbury
  • Salisbury
  • Strasburg
  • Upper Leacock
  • Warwick
  • West Cocalico
  • West Donegal
  • West Earl
  • West Hempfield
  • West Lampeter

Census-designated places

Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the United States Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law.

Unincorporated communities

Many communities are neither incorporated nor treated as census-designated places.

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Lancaster County.

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Lancaster City 59,322
2 Ephrata Borough 13,394
3 Elizabethtown Borough 11,545
4 Columbia Borough 10,400
5 Lititz Borough 9,369
6 Millersville Borough 8,168
7 Willow Street CDP 7,578
8 Mount Joy Borough 7,410
9 Leola CDP 7,214
10 New Holland Borough 5,378
11 Manheim Borough 4,858
12 East Petersburg Borough 4,506
13 Akron Borough 3,876
14 Denver Borough 3,861
15 Maytown CDP 3,824
16 Reamstown CDP 3,361
17 Rothsville CDP 3,044
18 Brownstown CDP 2,816
19 Strasburg Borough 2,809
20 Mountville Borough 2,802
21 Salunga CDP 2,695
22 Marietta Borough 2,588
23 Quarryville Borough 2,576
24 Swartzville CDP 2,283
25 Bowmansville CDP 2,077
26 Gap CDP 1,931
27 Landisville CDP 1,893
28 Reinholds CDP 1,803
29 Adamstown (partially in Berks County) Borough 1,789
30 Lampeter CDP 1,669
31 Rheems CDP 1,598
32 Clay CDP 1,559
33 Bainbridge CDP 1,355
34 Brickerville CDP 1,309
35 Terre Hill Borough 1,295
36 Intercourse CDP 1,274
37 Conestoga CDP 1,258
38 Christiana Borough 1,168
39 Fivepointville CDP 1,156
40 East Earl CDP 1,144
41 Paradise CDP 1,129
42 Schoeneck CDP 1,056
43 Blue Ball CDP 1,031
44 Penryn CDP 1,024
45 Georgetown CDP 1,022
46 Farmersville CDP 991
47 Morgantown (mostly in Berks County) CDP 826
48 Hopeland CDP 738
49 Washington Boro CDP 729
50 Stevens CDP 612
51 Wakefield CDP 609
52 Soudersburg CDP 540
53 Gordonville CDP 508
54 Witmer CDP 492
55 Goodville CDP 482
56 Churchtown CDP 470
57 Falmouth CDP 420
58 Bird-in-Hand CDP 402
59 Kirkwood CDP 396
60 Little Britain CDP 372
61 Ronks CDP 362
62 Smoketown CDP 357
63 Refton CDP 298


In 2004, the county had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $30,790, 93% of the national average. This reflects a growth of 4.5% from the prior year, versus a 5.0% growth for the nation as a whole. Despite the lower income, the county poverty rate in 2003 was 8.3% compared to a national rate of 12.5%. In 2004, federal spending in Lancaster County was $4,199 per resident, versus a national average of $7,232.

In 2005, Lancaster County was 10th of all counties in Pennsylvania with 17.7% of its workforce employed in manufacturing; the state averages 13.7%, and the leader, Crawford County, has only 25.1%.

Lancaster County lags in information workers, despite being the corporate headquarters of MapQuest. It ranks 31st in the state with 1.3% of the workforce; the state as a whole employs 2.1% in information technology.

The county ranks 11th in the state in managerial and financial workers, despite having 12.5% of the workforce in those occupations (versus the state average of 12.8%). The state leaders are Chester County with 20.5% and Montgomery County with 18.5%.

With 17.3% working in the professions, Lancaster County is 31st in Pennsylvania, compared to a state average of 21.5%. Centre County leads with 31.8%, undoubtedly due to Penn State's giant footprint in an otherwise rural county, but the upscale Philadelphia suburbs of Montgomery County give them 27.2%.

Lancaster County ranks even lower, 34th, in service workers, with 13.3% of the workforce, compared to a state average of 15.8%. Philadelphia County, leads with 20.5%.

Lancaster County has an unemployment rate of 7.8% as of August 2010. This is a rise from a rate of 7.6% the previous year.

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A typical Lancaster County farm with a horse-drawn farm implement near a corn field
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A typical field of grain

There are 11,000 companies in Lancaster County. The county's largest manufacturing and distributing employers at the end of 2003 were Acme Markets, Alumax Mill Products, Anvil International, Armstrong World Industries, Bollman Hat, CNH Global, Conestoga Wood Specialties, Dart Container, High Industries, Lancaster Laboratories, Pepperidge Farm, R R Donnelley & Sons, The Hershey Company, Tyco Electronics, Tyson Foods, Warner-Lambert, and Yellow Transportation.

Auntie Anne's, Clipper Magazine, Lancaster Farming, MapQuest, Turkey Hill Dairy, Clair Global, and Wilbur Chocolate Company are Lancaster County-based organizations with an economic footprint of regional or national significance.

Herley Industries is a local producer of microwave and millimeter wave products for the defense and aerospace industries.


With some of the most fertile non-irrigated soil in the U.S., Lancaster County has a strong farming industry. Lancaster County's 5293 farms, generating $800 million in food, feed and fiber, are responsible for nearly a fifth of the state's agricultural output. Chester County, with its high-value mushroom farms, is second, with $375 million.

Livestock-raising is responsible for $710 million of that $800 million, with dairy accounting for $266 million, poultry and eggs accounting for $258 million. Cattle and swine each accounts for about $90 million.

Agriculture is likely to remain an important part of Lancaster County: almost exactly half of Lancaster County's land – 320,000 acres (130,000 ha) – is zoned for agriculture, and of those, 276,000 acres (112,000 ha) are "effective agricultural zoning", requiring at least 20 acres (8.1 ha) per residence.

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Amish dairy farms


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The Central Market in Lancaster, a popular tourist attraction

Tourism is a significant industry in Lancaster County, employing approximately 20,000. In the 1860s, articles in the Atlantic Monthly and Lippincott's Magazine published right after the Civil War, introduced Lancaster County to many readers. However, tourism in Lancaster was nearly non-existent prior to 1955. A New York Times travel article in 1952 brought 25,000 visitors, but the 1955 Broadway musical Plain and Fancy helped to fan the flames of Amish tourism in the mid 1950s. Shortly thereafter, Adolph Neuber (then-owner of the Willows Restaurant) opened the first tourist attraction in Lancaster County showcasing the Amish culture. Lancaster County tourism tapered off, after the 1974 gas rationing and the Three Mile Island incident led to five years of stagnation.

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Hot Air Balloon ride

Local tourism officials viewed it as deus ex machina when Hollywood stepped in to rescue their industry. Harrison Ford, in the 1985 movie Witness, portrayed a Philadelphia detective who journeys to the Amish community to protect an Amish boy who has witnessed a murder in Philadelphia. The detective is attracted to the boy's widowed mother; the movie is less a thriller than a romance about the difficulties faced by an outsider in love with a widow from The Community. The film was nominated for eight Oscars, and won two. However, the real winner was Lancaster County tourism.

Once again, especially after the 9/11 attacks, tourism in Lancaster County has shifted. Instead of families arriving for a three- to four-day stay for a general visit, now tourists arrive for a specific event, whether it be the rhubarb festival, the "maize maze", to see Thomas the Tank Engine, for Sertoma's annual "World's Largest Chicken Barbecue" or for the latest show at Sight & Sound Theatres. The tourism industry is discouraged by this change, but not despondent:

In four years of working here on the Strasburg Rail Road, I've only had one complaint, she said that the ride is too short. People love Lancaster County. They'll keep coming back.

—Betty McCormack
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One of the county's 29 covered bridges

The county promotes tourist visits to the county's numerous historic and picturesque covered bridges by publishing driving tours of the bridges. With over 200 bridges still in existence, Pennsylvania has more covered bridges than anywhere else in the world, and at 29 covered bridges, Lancaster County has the largest share.

The Lancaster County Convention Center Authority [1] constructed the $170 million Lancaster County Convention Center in downtown Lancaster on the site of the former Watt & Shand building.

Other tourist attractions include the American Music Theatre, Dutch Wonderland, Ephrata Cloister, Ephrata Fair, Hans Herr House, Landis Valley Museum, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire (one of the largest Renaissance fairs in the world), Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Rock Ford plantation, Robert Fulton Birthplace, Sight & Sound Theatres, Strasburg Railroad, Wilbur Chocolate, Wheatland (James Buchanan House) and Sturgis Pretzel House. There are many tours of this historic area including the Downtown Lancaster Walking Tour.


Before the Barnstormers, Lancaster was the home of the Lancaster Red Roses, which played from 1906 to about 1930, and from 1932 to 1961. In 2005 the Lancaster Barnstormers joined the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The Barnstormers are named after the "barnstorming" players who played exhibition games in the county. Their official colors are red, navy blue, and khaki, the same as those of the Red Roses. This franchise won their first league championship in their second season, in 2006. They won their second league championship in 2014. They have revived the old baseball rivalry between Lancaster and nearby York, called the War of the Roses, when the York Revolution started their inaugural season in 2007.

The Women's Premier Soccer League expanded to Lancaster for the 2008 season, with the Lancaster Inferno. The WPSL is a FIFA-recognized women's league. The Inferno is owned by the Pennsylvania Classics organization and play their home games at the Hempfield High School stadium in Landisville. The Inferno's colors are orange, black, and white.

Amateur teams

In 2004, the amateur Lancaster Lightning football team of the North American Football League played at Pequea Valley High School's football stadium in Kinzers.

Lancaster is home to the Dutchland Derby Rollers (DDR), a member of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA.) Founded in 2006, The Dutchland Rollers have two travel teams, the All-Stars and the Blitz. Both rosters play teams from neighboring leagues, though it is the Dutchland All-Stars that compete for national ranking. Their home rink is Overlook Activities Center, and their colors are orange and black.

Former teams

From 1946 to 1980, a professional basketball team, as the Lancaster Red Roses, (as well as the Lancaster Rockets and the Lancaster Lightning) played in the Continental Basketball Association.


Lancaster County's colleges include Eastern Mennonite University, Elizabethtown College, Franklin & Marshall College, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, and PA College of Health Sciences.

Map of Lancaster County Pennsylvania School Districts
Map of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Public School Districts

There are 16 public school districts in the county:

  • Cocalico
  • Columbia Borough
  • Conestoga Valley
  • Donegal
  • Eastern Lancaster County
  • Elizabethtown Area
  • Ephrata Area
  • Hempfield
  • Lampeter-Strasburg
  • Lancaster
  • Manheim Central
  • Manheim Township
  • Penn Manor
  • Pequea Valley
  • Solanco
  • Warwick.

There is also one charter school, the La Academia Charter School.

Lancaster Country Day School, an independent day school, is located on the west end of Lancaster City.

Linden Hall, an independent boarding and day school for girls, is located in Lititz.

Lancaster County has a federated library system with 14 member libraries, three branches and a bookmobile. The Library System of Lancaster County was established in April 1987 to provide countywide services and cooperative programs for its member libraries. The Board of Lancaster County Commissioners appoints the Library System of Lancaster County's seven-member board of directors. The System is an agent of the Commonwealth.

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