In 1785, a trader by the name of Thomas Plant, traveling through the 864 square miles in Washington County on Pennsylvania's southwestern border, remarked, "Never has there been a place so bountiful in Nature's rewards...". The county is blessed with thousands of acres resplendent with nature's beauty. The Monongahela River winds south along the eastern side, to the north lies the modern metropolis of Pittsburgh, to the east Greensburg and New Stanton, and the historic towns of Uniontown and Waynesburg are just south of Washington County. The City of Washington, located almost directly in the center of the county, is the county seat. There are approximately 210,000 people who make their homes in the many quiet towns such as Canonsburg, McMurray, Monongahela and Charleroi.
The county has a storied past including the infamous Whiskey Rebellion led by David Bradford in 1792 as well as the first ever US Crematory built in 1876 by Dr. Francis LeMoyne. Washington County boasts 23 covered bridges, placing the county second to Lancaster County with the highest number of covered bridges in the state. Early 18th-century farmers and settlers carved a living from the rich soil. Land patents were granted in 1772 and the county was officially established on March 28, 1781. The discovery of vast coal deposits, coupled with the industrial revolution, transformed economic life in the county. The manufacture of steel and glass, along with the discovery of oil, further stimulated rapid change and development throughout the region.
By the dawn of the 20th century, Washington County had assumed a large part of its present social, economic and political identity. Throughout this century's dramatic and turbulent changes, Washington County, Pennsylvania, has remained strong and vibrant due to its traditional, pioneering spirit and continued commitment to further success.
Interstate 70 travels east and west through the county while Interstate 79 travels north and south, linking the region to Erie, Pittsburgh and to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. US Routes 18, 19 and 40 ( the National Road) serve as major roadways in the county; covering the northern end and connecting it to neighboring Allegheny County, is US Route 22.
Freight handling services are provided by 18 major trucking firms that are based in the City of Washington and also by the more than 50 other trucking and distribution companies throughout the county. The GG&C Bus Company and Schweinebraten Bus Company operate county-wide to provide public transportation. B&O (CXW Transportation), Conrail and Norfolk Southern (N&W) railroads crisscross the landscape. There are also two barge lines along the Monongahela River to provide river freight services.
Major air carriers use the Pittsburgh International Airport, located just 30 minutes north of the City of Washington. In Washington County there are four local airports and a seaplane base in Monongahela.
Washington County has a strong and diverse industrial and economic foundation. There are some 4,000 industries that employ over 61,000 people. The county is Pennsylvania's number one coal producer; its allied suppliers of coal mining equipment employ more than 2,000 people. There are also wholesale and retail establishments with more than 16,500 workers, while the service industry alone provides over 16,200 jobs.
The manufacture of steel and steel by-products represents the largest industrial employer with over 5,000 laborers. Allegheny Ludlum and Washington Steel are two of the county's largest employers. The construction industry is steadily growing throughout the region and 84 Lumber Company is head quartered in Eighty-Four, PA. Forestry, fishing and other agribusinesses play a key role in the county as do the 20 industrial parks along Intestates 70 and 79. Cerdec Corporation and Andritz-Ruthner are two of the many major international corporations in the region.
Washington County is predominantly rural and has around 60 percent of its population concentrated in its two major cities, Monongahela and Washington. Around these cities are many smaller communities and boroughs that represent the majority of the county's population.
Housing costs in the region reflect favorably on the growing regional construction market. New homes and developments are readily available throughout, and trade on the housing market is brisk. Many older dwellings, well preserved to maintain their Victorian allure, frequently appear on the market. Housing costs range from $20,000 to $300,000 with the median housing value in Washington County at $54,000.
In Washington County are over 20 retail shopping centers. The Route 19 corridor, north of the City of Washington, has the fastest growing retail development in the county. Specialty shopping is readily available throughout the county as in the "City of Antiques" located in Canonsburg, the New Village Shops in Hickory, the Specialty Shops in Scenery Hill and the Riverside Shops in Speers.
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