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Pike County
Dingmans Falls in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Official seal of Pike County
Seal
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Pike County
Location within the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Map of the United States highlighting Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 610: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
Country  United States
State  Pennsylvania
Founded March 8, 1814
Named for Zebulon Pike
Seat Milford
Largest city Matamoras
Area
 • Total 567 sq mi (1,470 km2)
 • Land 545 sq mi (1,410 km2)
 • Water 22 sq mi (60 km2)  3.9%%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 58,535
 • Density 103/sq mi (40/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 8th
Matamoras PA Bridge
Mid-Delaware Bridge

Pike County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2020 census, the population was 58,535. Its county seat is Milford.

Pike County is included in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

In 2006, Pike County was the fastest-growing county in the state of Pennsylvania.

History

Pike County was named for General Zebulon Pike. It was organized on March 26, 1814 from part of Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Some English settlement in the area had started during the colonial years.

The longtime original inhabitants were the Lenape Native Americans, known by the English colonists as the Delaware Indians because their territory was along the Delaware River (as named by the colonists), as well as the coastal mid-Atlantic area. In 1694, Governor Benjamin Fletcher of the colony of New York sent Captain Arent Schuyler to investigate claims that the French were recruiting Indian allies for use against the English. In 1696, governor Fletcher authorized purchases of Indian land near the New York border by a number of citizens of Ulster County; their descendants became the first European settlers of what became Pike County.

Nicholas Depui was the first to settle in the area, in 1725. Thomas Quick moved to the area that would become Milford in 1733. Andrew Dingman settled on the Delaware River at the future site of Dingmans Ferry in 1735. The early settlers got along well with the Lenape and traded with them. As settlement increased and their land practices encroached on Lenape uses, land disputes arose. The colonists' infamous Walking Purchase of 1737 swindled the Indians out of more than half of present-day Pike County. As they realized what had happened, violent conflicts arose between the Lenape and the colonists.

Early in the nineteenth century, coal was discovered nearby in the area that would become Carbondale. This became especially significant as the British restricted export of British coal to the United States after the War of 1812, creating a fuel shortage in rapidly expanding New York City. To get the coal to New York, developers proposed a gravity railroad from Carbondale to Honesdale, along with a canal from Honesdale to the Hudson River at Kingston.

The state of New York approved the canal proposal in 1823. Work on the 108-mile (174 km) Delaware and Hudson Canal began in 1825 and was completed in 1828. The canal system which terminated at the Hudson River near present-day Kingston, proved profitable. But, the barges had to cross the Delaware via a rope ferry across a "slackwater dam," which created bottlenecks in the canal traffic and added greatly to the cost of transportation.

John Roebling proposed continuing the canal over the river as part of an aqueduct. Built in 1848, his innovative design required only three piers, where five would ordinarily have been required; this allowed ice floes and timber rafts to pass under with less damage to the bridge. Three other suspension aqueducts were subsequently built for the canal. Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct is still standing, possibly the oldest suspension bridge in America; it has been named a National Historic Landmark.

For fifty-one years, coal flowed to New York City via the canal. But the development of railroads, which were faster, cheaper, and operated even when the canals were frozen, brought the end of the canal era. The New York and Erie Railroad supplanted the canal and in 1898 the water route was abandoned.

From 1904 to 1926, Grey Towers in the borough of Milford, Pennsylvania was the site of summer field study sessions for the Master's program of the Yale School of Forestry, together with the Forester's Hall, a commercial building that was adapted and expanded for this purpose.

In 1926, the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company built a hydroelectric plant on Wallenpaupack creek at the former village of Wilsonville. The town was evacuated and now lies under Lake Wallenpaupack, created by a dam. A crew of 2,700 men worked for two years to complete the dam for the project at a cost of $1,026,000. This required the acquisition of nearly a hundred properties, and a number of farms, barns, and homes were razed or moved. In addition, 17 miles (27 km) of roads and telephone lines were relocated, and a cemetery was moved to make way for the project.

The largely rural area of the county made it attractive as a country destination. Several camps were developed in the area of Milford, Pennsylvania, the county seat. It has several hundred late 19th and early 20th-century buildings that contribute to a National Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Yale ran summer field studies for its Master's program in forestry there from 1904 to 1926.

Since the late 20th century, Pike County has been the fastest-growing county in Pennsylvania; between 1990 and 2000, its population increased by 65.2%, and it grew an additional 16.9% between 2000 and 2004. The area has relatively low state and county taxes, affordable housing, and Interstate 80 and Interstate 84 provide rapid commutes to New York City's northern suburbs.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 567 square miles (1,470 km2), of which 545 square miles (1,410 km2) is land and 22 square miles (57 km2) (3.9%) is water.

The terrain rises rapidly from the river valley in the east to the rolling foothills of the Poconos in the west. The highest point is one of two unnamed hills in Greene Township that top out at approximately 2,110 feet (643 m) above sea level. The lowest elevation is approximately 340 feet (103.6 m), at the confluence of the Bushkill and the Delaware rivers.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

State protected areas

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1820 2,894
1830 4,843 67.3%
1840 3,832 −20.9%
1850 5,881 53.5%
1860 7,155 21.7%
1870 8,436 17.9%
1880 9,663 14.5%
1890 9,412 −2.6%
1900 8,766 −6.9%
1910 8,033 −8.4%
1920 6,818 −15.1%
1930 7,483 9.8%
1940 7,452 −0.4%
1950 8,425 13.1%
1960 9,158 8.7%
1970 11,818 29.0%
1980 18,271 54.6%
1990 27,966 53.1%
2000 46,306 65.6%
2010 57,369 23.9%
2020 58,535 2.0%

As of the 2010 census, there were 57,369 people living in the county. The county was 88.6% Non-Hispanic White, 6.3% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.2% Asian, and 1.7% were two or more races. 10.2% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry [1].

As of the census of 2000, there were 46,302 people, 17,433 households, and 13,022 families living in the county. The population density was 85 people per square mile (33/km2). There were 34,681 housing units at an average density of 63 per square mile (24/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 93.10% White, 3.27% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 0.62% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.30% from other races, and 1.47% from two or more races. 5.00% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.9% were of German, 18.6% Irish, 18.5% Italian, 6.2% English and 5.3% Polish ancestry.

There were 17,433 households, out of which 34.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.50% were married couples living together, 7.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.30% were non-families. 20.70% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 26.70% under the age of 18, 5.30% from 18 to 24, 27.70% from 25 to 44, 25.10% from 45 to 64, and 15.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.30 males.

Communities

Pike County, Pennsylvania, Municipalities and CDPs
Map of Pike County with municipalities and CDPs labeled.

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 Pike County:

Boroughs

Townships

Census-designated places

Population ranking

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

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Saw Creek CDP 4,016
2 Hemlock Farms CDP 3,271
3 Pocono Woodland Lakes CDP 3,209
4 Pine Ridge CDP 2,707
5 Matamoras Borough 2,469
6 Gold Key Lake CDP 1,830
7 Sunrise Lake CDP 1,387
8 Birchwood Lakes CDP 1,386
9 Conashaugh Lakes CDP 1,294
10 Pocono Ranch Lands CDP 1,062
11 Milford Borough 1,021
12 Pocono Mountain Lake Estates CDP 842
13 Fawn Lake Forest CDP 755
14 Masthope CDP 685

Education

Public school districts

Map of Pike County Pennsylvania School Districts
Map of Pike County, Pennsylvania School Districts
  • Delaware Valley School District
  • East Stroudsburg Area School District (also in Monroe County)
  • Wallenpaupack Area School District (also Wayne County)

In 2011, Porter Township residents successfully petitioned the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education to transfer the township from East Stroudsburg Area School District to Wallenpaupack Area School District. The appeal by East Stroudsburg Area School District was heard by the Commonwealth Court in April 2012.

Private

  • Center for Developmental Disabilities of Pike Co, Ltd. – Milford
  • New Life Christian Day School – Matamoras
  • Sunshine Academy – Milford
  • Kinderhaus Montissori of PA – Milford

Notable natives and residents

  • James Blish, Damon Knight, Judith Merril and Kate Wilhelm (Mrs. Knight), all science fiction writers]
  • Vanessa Carlton - (born 1980) singer/songwriter
  • Zane Grey - (1872-1939) author of western stories and novels including Riders of the Purple Sage
  • Allyn Joslyn, stage and screen actor
  • Robert Litzenberger, professor emeritus at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Frank McCourt, author
  • Charles Sanders Peirce, a philosopher and polymath, lived on a farm 3 miles from Milford, from 1887 until his 1914 death.
  • Mary Pickford, silent film actress
  • Gifford Pinchot - (1865–1946) was the first Chief of the United States Forest Service (1905–1910) and the Governor of Pennsylvania (1923–1927, 1931–1935).
  • Al Pitrelli, guitarist
  • Tom Quick, early settler
  • Mary Cole Walling (1838–1925), patriot, lecturer
  • Smoky Joe Wood, baseball pitcher.
  • Marie Zimmermann designer and maker of jewelry and metalwork
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