Blair County, located in central Pennsylvania, is a region known for its rich history. From its founding to the present day, the county has been an important hub for commerce, industry and culture. Here we present some of the most interesting facts about Blair County's unique history:
1. Named after a Founding Father
Blair County was named for John Blair, a Revolutionary War veteran and signer of the U.S. Constitution. Blair served as a U.S. Supreme Court justice and was one of the most influential jurists of his era.
2. A Major Transportation Hub
The county saw rapid development in the 19th century, due to its location on the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The town of Altoona, in particular, became a major transportation hub, with many railroads converging at the famous Horseshoe Curve.
3. The Birthplace of Sheet Music
Blair County is also the birthplace of sheet music. The first commercially successful sheet music publishers, William C. Peters and George Willig, set up shop in Altoona in the 1830s. By the late 19th century, Altoona was one of the largest sheet music publishing centers in the country.
4. Home of a National Landmark
Blair County is home to the oldest operational roller-coaster in America, Leap-the-Dips. The amusement park ride is located in Lakemont Park and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996. It first opened in 1902 and underwent a major renovation in 1999.
5. A Historical Civil War Connection
Blair County played a notable role in the Civil War. The county was home to the Gallitzin Tunnels, an important strategic location for moving troops and supplies throughout the conflict. A number of Blair County soldiers fought and died in the war, and their stories are memorialized today through various monuments and memorials.
6. A History of Education
The county has a rich history of education, with the establishment of several notable institutions. Juniata College was founded in Huntingdon in 1876, while Saint Francis University was established in nearby Loretto in 1847. Between these two institutions, Blair County has produced a host of influential educators and scholars.
7. Dynamic Cultural Scene
Blair County is home to a vibrant cultural scene, with several performing arts venues and events throughout the year. The Mishler Theatre in Altoona is one of the oldest continually-operating theaters in the United States and features a variety of live music, drama and comedy productions. Additionally, the Blair County Arts Festival draws thousands of visitors each year to see exhibits by local artists, musicians and performers.
There you have it - 7 interesting facts about Blair County in Pennsylvania history. This region's rich past and dynamic present make it an intriguing destination for visitors and locals alike.
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