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Westmoreland County

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Created from Bedford County in 1773, Westmoreland was the last Pennsylvania county formed under British rule. Its first European colonial settlers were Scots-Irish and German, with smaller numbers of Irish and English. Several other counties were formed later from Westmoreland's original boundaries, including Allegheny, Armstrong, Fayette, Greene, and Washington. Two forts from the French and Indian War are the reconstructed Fort Ligonier of 1758 (U.S. 30 and PA 711) and the National Historic Site of Colonel Henry Bouquet's 1763 defeat in Pontiac's Rebellion at Bushy Run, 1.3 miles east of the intersection of PA 130 and PA 993. The original county seat of 1773 at Hanna's Town was moved to Greensburg in 1786.

Agricultural products and natural resources were the first cargoes on the rivers, the Pennsylvania Canal, and the roads, which superseded Native American pathways. In the late nineteenth century, coal mining and railroads transformed the agrarian landscape to one of scattered mining towns and industrial complexes populated by a workforce of European immigrants. Salina, founded in the Kiskiminetas valley in 1874, is one example of a company town, and retains a pair of tunnel kilns from its early fire-brick plant, as well as a grouping of two-story, single-family frame houses. Between 1890 and World War II, the promise of inexpensive land and larger spaces enticed many Pittsburgh and Allegheny County companies to build new factories and housing in Westmoreland County. Glass manufacturing and the production of iron, steel, and aluminum flourished at a number of sites, such as Jeannette, Vandergrift, and New Kensington.

The county's architecture reflects these important economic eras: the agricultural economy of farms, mills, and distilleries; the industrial age of mining towns, factories, railroad buildings, and large industrial complexes; and since the middle of the twentieth century, suburban growth, especially in the central part of the county, where many townships serve as bedroom communities to Pittsburgh. Today, Westmoreland County has the sixth largest population and the seventh largest area in Pennsylvania.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.

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