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Fayette County, Pennsylvania
Fayette County Courthouse, Uniontown.jpg
Fayette County Courthouse
Seal of Fayette County, Pennsylvania
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Fayette County
Location in the state of Pennsylvania
Map of the U.S. highlighting Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's location in the U.S.
Founded September 26, 1783
Seat Uniontown
Largest city Uniontown
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

798 sq mi (2,067 km²)
790 sq mi (2,046 km²)
8 sq mi (21 km²), 0.98%
 - (2010)
 - Density

173/sq mi (66.7/km²)

Fayette County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 136,606. The county is part of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Fayette County was created on September 26, 1783, from part of Westmoreland County and named after the Marquis de Lafayette. Its county seat is Uniontown.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

The first European settlers to Fayette County were western explorers, who used an ancient American Indian trail that bisected the county, as part of their journey across the Appalachian Mountains. In an era when control of the area was still undecided, 22-year-old George Washington fought his first battles against the French at Jumonville Glen and Fort Necessity in 1754. British forces under Washington and General Edward Braddock improved roads throughout the region, making the future Fayette County an important supply through-route. During the American Revolution, Fayette County was hit hard by attacks from British-allied Indian groups and remained an isolated frontier hinterland. Also retarding settlement was a border dispute with Virginia, which led to competing jurisdictions: Virginia's District of West Augusta and Pennsylvania's Westmoreland County both laid claim to the area. The dispute was settled in favor of Pennsylvania in 1780, and Fayette County was formed from Westmoreland County in 1783.

Fayette County settlers provided the first real test for the authority of the more centralized incarnation of the American government after the signing of the Constitution. During the 1793 Whiskey Rebellion, rural farmers took up arms against tax collectors in protest of a new excise on liquor. However, the new President George Washington called out federal soldiers to quell the uprising. In the early portions of the 19th century, Fayette County continued to be an important travel point. The National Road provided access through the mountains for settlers heading west. The shipyards in Brownsville on the Monongahela River created vessels that were used for shipping for domestic and international trade.

As Pittsburgh developed as an industrial powerhouse in the mid-19th century, Fayette County transitioned to become a center of coal mining and coke production. From the 1880s to the second decade of the 20th century, an explosion in steel production led to area industry becoming extremely profitable and nationally important. Because cheap labor was needed, new immigrants to the United States were attracted to Fayette County en masse for industrial jobs. The traditional Scottish and German farming communities were overshadowed by new populations of Southern and Eastern Europeans. However, the region's wealth remained concentrated in old ethnic English and Scottish families with connections to Pittsburgh.

By World War II, Fayette County industry had created a new unionized working class that enjoyed increased prosperity. In the 1950s, the coal industry fell into decline; and in the 1970s, the collapse of American steel brought hard times to Fayette County. Industrial restructuring meant the loss of the union jobs which had provided for the rise of so many families to middle class status. Only a few mines remain, but natural resources remain crucial to the local economy. The region continues to struggle but is slowly transitioning toward the service sector, with jobs added in fields such as telemarketing.

Geography[edit | edit source]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 798 square miles (2,066.8 km2), of which 790 square miles (2,046.1 km2) is land and 8 square miles (20.7 km2) (0.98%) is water. The western portion of the county contains rolling foothills and two valleys along the Monongahela River and Youghiogheny Rivers. The eastern portion of the county is highly mountainous and forested. Many coal mines are located within the area.[2]

Adjacent counties[edit | edit source]

National protected areas[edit | edit source]

Transportation[edit | edit source]

While Fayette County is a generally rural area and is not directly tied into the interstate system, it features four-lane access to the city of Pittsburgh and several of its major suburban areas. Future state highway plans call for the establishment of direct freeway connections with Pittsburgh to the north and Morgantown, West Virginia to the south.

U.S. and Pennsylvania Highways[edit | edit source]

Public Transportation[edit | edit source]

The primary provider of mass transportation within the region is Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation, which features local bus routes as well as four time-daily commuter service to Pittsburgh. Amtrak rail service along the Chicago-to-Washington-via-Cleveland Capitol Limited route stops at Connellsville Station. General aviation services are also provided at the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport.

Government[edit | edit source]

The County of Fayette is governed by a three-member publicly elected commission. The three commissioners serve in both executive and legislative capacities. By state law, the commission must have a minority party, guaranteeing a political split. Each member serves a four-year term.

The three current commissioners for Fayette County are Vince Vicities (Democrat), Vince Zapotosky (Democrat), and Angela Zimmerlink (Republican).

Vicities is the son of a former county commissioner, and worked in the office of the state auditor general and as director of Fayette County Waste Management prior to taking office in 1996. Zapotosky formerly worked as an aide to Congressman Frank Mascara and later was an administrator at Douglas Business School. Zimmerlink previously held a career in real estate.

The Fayette County Court of Common Pleas serves as the primary judicial arm in the region. Judges are elected to ten-year terms in accordance with Commonwealth law. Additionally, district judges serve throughout the county and rule on minor offences. Current judges are President Judge Gerald R. Solomon, John F. Wagner, Jr., Ralph C. Warman, Steve P. Leskinen, and Nancy Vernon.

Other county officials[edit | edit source]

  • Clerk of Courts, Janice Snyder, Democrat
  • Controller, Sean Lally, Democrat
  • Coroner, Phillip Reilly, Democrat
  • District Attorney, Jack Heneks, Democrat
  • Prothonotary, Lance Winterhalter, Democrat
  • Recorder of Deeds, Dave Malosky, Democrat
  • Register of Wills, Don Redman, Democrat
  • Sheriff, Gary Brownfield, Sr., Democrat
  • Treasurer, Robert Danko, Democrat

Politics[edit | edit source]

As of November 2008, there are 91,386 registered voters in Fayette County. [1]

Fayette County tends to be Democratic-leaning in statewide and national elections. While Democratic politics are entrenched because of a strong union history, the county is generally socially conservative. In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won 57% of the vote and Republican George W. Bush won 40%. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry won 53% of the vote and Republican George W. Bush won 45%. In 2006, Democrat Governor Ed Rendell and Senator Bob Casey, Jr. won 59% and 65% of the vote in Fayette County. In 2008, Fayette County trended Republican and went for Republican John McCain 49.62% over Democrat Barack Obama 49.21%, a difference of 215 votes. In 2010, Republican Governor Tom Corbett and Senator Pat Toomey won 55% and 50.19% of the vote.

State Representatives[edit | edit source]

State Senator[edit | edit source]

US Representatives[edit | edit source]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1790 13,318
1800 20,159 51.4%
1810 24,714 22.6%
1820 27,285 10.4%
1830 29,172 6.9%
1840 33,574 15.1%
1850 39,112 16.5%
1860 39,909 2.0%
1870 43,284 8.5%
1880 58,842 35.9%
1890 80,006 36.0%
1900 110,412 38.0%
1910 167,449 51.7%
1920 188,104 12.3%
1930 198,542 5.5%
1940 200,999 1.2%
1950 189,899 −5.5%
1960 169,340 −10.8%
1970 154,667 −8.7%
1980 159,417 3.1%
1990 145,351 −8.8%
2000 148,645 2.3%
2010 136,606 −8.1%

As of the census[5] of 2010, there were 136,606 people, 59,969 households, and 41,198 families residing in the county. The population density was 188 people per square mile (73/km²). There were 66,490 housing units at an average density of 84 per square mile (32/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.30% White, 3.51% Black or African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.11% from other races, and 0.73% from two or more races. 0.38% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 19.8% were of German, 13.2% Italian, 11.4% Irish, 9.2% American, 8.4% Polish, 7.9% English and 6.6% Slovak ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 59,969 households out of which 28.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.80% were married couples living together, 12.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.30% were non-families. 28.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.70% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 24.20% from 45 to 64, and 18.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 91.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.60 males.

A study released in 2009 by PathWays PA, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, found that 35% of families in Fayette County were economically distressed, that is, failing to earn a wage that would adequately provide food, shelter, child care, health care, and other basic necessities.[6]

Municipalities[edit | edit source]

Map of Fayette 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 at most two cases, towns. The following cities, boroughs and townships are located in Fayette County:

Cities[edit | edit source]

Boroughs[edit | edit source]

Townships[edit | edit source]

Census-designated places[edit | edit source]

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.

Map of Fayette County, Pennsylvania School Districts

Education[edit | edit source]

Colleges & Universities[edit | edit source]

Public School Districts[edit | edit source]

Private Schools[edit | edit source]

  • All Saints Regional School - Masontown
  • Apostolic Christian Academy - Dunbar
  • Bible Baptist Academy - Uniontown
  • Champion Christian School - Champion
  • Chestnut Ridge Christian Academy - Uniontown
  • Connellsville Area Catholic School - Connellsville
  • Geibel Catholic High School - Connellsville
  • Mount Carmel Christian School - Mount Pleasant
  • Mount Moriah Christian School - Smithfield
  • Mount Zion Christian Academy - Acme
  • New Meadow Run Parochial School - Farmington
  • Spring Valley School - Farmington
  • St John Evangelist School - Uniontown
  • St Mary (Nativity) School - Uniontown
  • Verna Montessori School - Prittstown

Fixtures[edit | edit source]

  • Fort Necessity is a reconstructed historic stockade that was originally built by George Washington to defend against an attack during the French and Indian War. Washington's loss at Fort Necessity was the only blemish on his military record. It is now operated as a national battlefield.[7]
    • General Edward Braddock's Grave is across the highway from Fort Necessity. He was mortally wounded while attacking Fort Duquesne (at the "forks of the Ohio River" in present day Downtown Pittsburgh) during the French and Indian War. It is a unit of the national battlefield. Under an agreement with British government, the site of Braddock's grave is officially considered British soil.
  • The National Road (also known as the Cumberland Road) bisects Fayette County. It was the first significant roadway to be paid for by the federal government, connecting Baltimore, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois. US 40 follows the path of this historic toll road.
    • Two historic fixtures from the National Road exist within Fayette County's borders. Searights Toll House is one of few remaining toll collection stops along the old route. The Washington Tavern, a unit of Fort Necessity National Battlefield, is a classic example of an early 19th century inn.
  • The town of Perryopolis was designed by George Washington during his career as a surveyor. It includes a restored grist mill that once served as an (unsuccessful) businss venture for the future president.
  • Fallingwater, architect Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous home, is located atop a flowing waterfall in Stewart Township. His lesser known but equally impressive Kentuck Knob is also located within the same municipality.[8]
  • Friendship Hill, the home of the little known but highly influential early 19th Century political figure Albert Gallatin, is maintained as a National Historic Site. [9]
  • Fayette County's southern border is adorned with plaques that mark its significance as part of the Mason-Dixon Line
  • A collection of waterfalls surrounding the Youghiogheny River Gorge are protected as part of Ohiopyle State Park.
  • Laurel Ridge State Park contains an extensive hiking trail that traverses much of Pennsylvania's Appalachian foothills.
  • The county contains the largest cave in Pennsylvania, Laurel Caverns, which is popular as both a tour and spelunking destination.
  • A historic trading post that eventually was turned into a spectacular mansion is featured in Nemacolin Castle. The structure is well known for its connections to the Underground Railroad.
  • The prestigious Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is located in rural Wharton Township. It features a five star hotel and has received a license for a slots casino.
  • Mountainous western Fayette County is home to the Seven Springs Mountain Resort, which is the premier skiing destination for Greater Pittsburgh.

Notable Fayette Countians[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Coordinates: 39°55′N 79°39′W / 39.92, -79.65

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