Northumberland County, Pennsylvania facts for kids

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Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northumberland County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the USA highlighting Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
Founded March 21, 1772
Seat Sunbury
Largest City Sunbury
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

478 sq mi (1,238 km²)
458 sq mi (1,186 km²)
19 sq mi (49 km²), 4.0%
 - (2015)
 - Density

204/sq mi (79/km²)
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Named for: Northumberland

Northumberland County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of 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.

Among its famous residents, Joseph Priestley, the enlightenment chemist and theologian, left England in 1796 due to religious persecution and settled on the Susquehanna River. His former house (originally purchased by chemists from Pennsylvania State University after a colloquium that founded the American Chemical Society) is a historical museum.


By 1813 the area once comprising the sprawling county of Northumberland had been divided over time and allotted to other counties such that lands once occupied by Old Northumberland at its greatest extent are now found in Centre, Columbia, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Union, Clearfield, Clinton, Montour, Bradford, Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Tioga, Potter, McKean, Warren, Venango, Snyder, and Schuylkill Counties.


Susquehanna River from the Shikellamy State Park overlook
Susquehanna River from the Shikellamy State Park overlook, looking upriver. The West Branch Susquehanna River is in the foreground.
View from the Shikellamy State Park overlook (July 2015)
View looking northeast from the Shikellamy State Park overlook

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 478 square miles (1,240 km2), of which 458 square miles (1,190 km2) is land and 19 square miles (49 km2) (4.0%) is water.

The main river in Northumberland County is the Susquehanna River and the divergence of the 977 miles (1,572 km) long river into its two branches of navigable river and former divisions of the Pennsylvania Canal System. The Susquehanna River's tributaries in the county include the West Branch Susquehanna River, Chillisquaque Creek, Shamokin Creek, and the west flowing Mahanoy Creek, whose valley is a rail and road transportation corridor to ‹See Tfd›Tamaqua and points thereafter either east, north, or south such that: east along rail or US 209 through ‹See Tfd›Nesquehoning and historic ‹See Tfd›Jim Thorpe,; else northeast via ‹See Tfd›Beaver Meadows leading north into ‹See Tfd›Hazelton and the lower Wyoming Valley, or into the central Wyoming Valley skirting along the western Poconos via ‹See Tfd›White Haven and ‹See Tfd›Mountain Top; or otherwise head south through the Schuylkill Gap into ‹See Tfd›Port Carbon and thence west to the ‹See Tfd›Lancaster County or east via the greater ‹See Tfd›Reading area into the lower Schuylkill Valley and Philadelphia. The county has mountains in the south and north, with the rest being mostly rolling hills.


Name Height
Mahanoy Mountain 433 meters
Big Mountain 402 meters

Major highways

  • I-80.svg Interstate 80
  • I-180.svg Interstate 180
  • US 11.svg U.S. Route 11
  • US 15.svg U.S. Route 15
  • PA-44.svg Pennsylvania Route 44
  • PA-54.svg Pennsylvania Route 54
  • PA-61.svg Pennsylvania Route 61
  • PA-147.svg Pennsylvania Route 147

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 17,147
1800 27,797 62.1%
1810 36,327 30.7%
1820 15,424 −57.5%
1830 18,133 17.6%
1840 20,027 10.4%
1850 23,272 16.2%
1860 28,922 24.3%
1870 41,444 43.3%
1880 53,123 28.2%
1890 74,698 40.6%
1900 90,911 21.7%
1910 111,420 22.6%
1920 122,079 9.6%
1930 128,504 5.3%
1940 126,887 −1.3%
1950 117,115 −7.7%
1960 104,138 −11.1%
1970 99,190 −4.8%
1980 100,381 1.2%
1990 96,771 −3.6%
2000 94,556 −2.3%
2010 94,528 0.0%
Est. 2015 93,246 −1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2013

As of the census of 2000, there were 94,556 people, 38,835 households, and 25,592 families residing in the county. The population density was 206 people per square mile (79/km²). There were 43,164 housing units at an average density of 94 per square mile (36/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.09% White, 1.52% Black or African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.47% from other races, and 0.58% from two or more races. 1.10% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 32.5% were of German, 12.9% Polish, 9.9% American, 8.2% Italian, 8.1% Irish and 5.8% Dutch ancestry according to Census 2000. 95.8% spoke English and 1.5% Spanish as their first language.

There were 38,835 households out of which 27.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.40% were married couples living together, 9.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.10% were non-families. 30.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the county, the population was spread out with 21.90% under the age of 18, 7.00% from 18 to 24, 27.70% from 25 to 44, 24.40% from 45 to 64, and 19.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 96.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.80 males.

Northumberland County's live birth rate was 1,167 births in 1990. Northumberland County's live birth rate in 2000 declined to 919 births, while in 2011 it was 961 babies. Over the past 50 years (1960 to 2010), rural Pennsylvania saw a steady decline in both the number and proportion of residents under 18 years old. In 1960, 1.06 million rural residents, or 35 percent of the rural population, were children.

County poverty demographics

According to research by The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, which is a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the poverty rate for Northumberland County was 15.9% in 2014. The statewide poverty rate was 13.6% in 2014. The 2012 childhood poverty rate by school district was: Line Mountain School District - 38.4% living at 185% or below than the Federal Poverty Level, Milton Area School District - 51.9, Mount Carmel Area School District - 59.5%, Shikellamy School District - 45%, Shamokin Area School District - 59.5% and Warrior Run School District - 32.2%.

According to the US Census Bureau, from 2009-2014 Northumberland County saw a 62% increase in the number of families in the federal food assistance program called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The number of people or families receiving monthly SNAP (food stamps) assistance dollars rose from 2,965 in 2009 to 4,814 people in 2014.

Teen Pregnancy rate

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports the annual teens aged 15–19 birth rate. From 2011 to 2015, Northumberland County experienced a 10% decline in teen pregnancies. In Pennsylvania the majority of pupils graduate from high school at age 18 years old. Northumberland County is home to an Amish population, where pregnancies at 17–19 years old are common.

  • 2015 - 643
  • 2014 - 664
  • 2013 - 689
  • 2012 - 709
  • 2011 - 715

In 2016, more than 200 children in Northumberland County were in foster care. The majority of the children are from the western side of the county in Shamokin and Mount Carmel. They are placed in foster care largely due to drug and alcohol abuse by parents/caregivers.

Micropolitan Statistical Area

Map of the Bloomsburg-Berwick-Sunbury, PA Combined Statistical Area (CSA), composed of the following parts:      Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)      Sunbury, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area (μSA)      Lewisburg, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area (μSA)      Selinsgrove, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area (μSA)
See also: List of Micropolitan Statistical Areas and List of Combined Statistical Areas

The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Northumberland County as the Sunbury, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area (µSA). As of the 2010 U.S. Census the micropolitan area ranked 2nd most populous in the State of Pennsylvania and the 37th most populous in the United States with a population of 94,528. Northumberland County is also a part of the Bloomsburg-Berwick-Sunbury, PA Combined Statistical Area (CSA), which combines the population of Northumberland County as well as the Columbia, Montour, Snyder and Union County areas. The Combined Statistical Area ranked 8th in the State of Pennsylvania and 115th most populous in the United States with a population of 264,739.


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

Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in one case, a town. The following cities, boroughs, and townships are located in Northumberland County:




  • Coal
  • Delaware
  • East Cameron
  • East Chillisquaque
  • Jackson
  • Jordan
  • Lewis
  • Little Mahanoy
  • Lower Augusta
  • Lower Mahanoy
  • Mount Carmel
  • Point
  • Ralpho
  • Rockefeller
  • Rush
  • Shamokin
  • Turbot
  • Upper Augusta
  • Upper Mahanoy
  • Washington
  • West Cameron
  • West Chillisquaque
  • Zerbe

Census-designated places

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.

Population ranking

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

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Sunbury City 9,905
2 Shamokin City 7,374
3 Milton Borough 7,042
4 Mount Carmel Borough 5,893
5 Northumberland Borough 3,804
6 Kulpmont Borough 2,924
7 Edgewood CDP 2,384
8 Watsontown Borough 2,351
9 Elysburg CDP 2,194
10 Fairview-Ferndale CDP 2,139
11 Riverside Borough 1,932
12 Trevorton CDP 1,834
13 Dewart CDP 1,471
14 Marshallton CDP 1,441
15 Montandon CDP 903
16 Kapp Heights CDP 863
17 Atlas CDP 809
18 Turbotville Borough 705
19 Marion Heights Borough 611
20 Ranshaw CDP 510
21 Tharptown (Uniontown) CDP 498
22 Dalmatia CDP 488
23 Snydertown Borough 339
24 Herndon Borough 324
25 McEwensville Borough 279
26 Strong CDP 147

Natural Gas pipeline

In March 2016, Northumberland County announced a $700,000 deal with Williams Transco pipeline company. The County is granting a 9,700 foot right-of-way through its Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area recreation park. Two parcels of county owned land are impacted: one in East Cameron Township and the other in Coal Township. The one time payment for the East Cameron Township parcel will be shared: County - 33.27%, township - 42.61% and Shamokin Area School District will receive 24.12%. For the Coal Township parcel: the County receives 33.13%, Coal Township gets 27.86% and the school district receives 39.01%. of the right-of-way payment. The County will also receive the value of the timber taken when the land is stripped. The recreation area is an environmentally restored former coal mining area. The pipeline will strip all vegetation and trees from the right-of-way in the outdoor recreation area. The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project is a 178 mile long project, crossing 10 Pennsylvania counties and impacting 30 property owners in Northumberland County.

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