Earliest map of Centre County available in digital format

June 30, 2008

The earliest known map of Centre County, dating from 1861, the Tilden map is now available at http://www.libraries.psu.edu/digital/1861map/ online. This digital site allows the viewer to access the entire map or click on a specific Centre County locale for a detailed close-up. Originals of the map are housed in the Penn State University Archives, Special Collections Library, 104 Paterno Library, on the University Park campus.

The digitization of the map, an ongoing effort to make University and local history resources available to a wider audience, is a collaborative effort undertaken by several University Libraries units, including Penn State University Archives, Digitization and Preservation, I-Tech, and Cataloging.

At 1,115 square miles, Centre County is the fifth largest county in Pennsylvania in land area. It has 36 government municipalities (25 townships and 11 boroughs) and nearly 100 towns and villages. The oldest, Aaronsburg, was laid out in 1786.

Discovery of high quality iron ore and rich agricultural land brought settlement to the region in the 18th century. James Potter was the first to record his travels through the region in 1764. He acquired numerous land warrants and built his home near Old Fort in 1774. Potter was followed by Andrew Boggs, who settled in an area near Milesburg in 1769. Iron was discovered in 1784, and the first iron furnace, Centre Furnace, was built in 1791 by Samuel Miles and John Patton. By 1832 more than a dozen iron furnaces were in operation along the Spring and Bald Eagle Creeks. Turnpikes were completed in the late 1820s and a canal system followed in the mid-1830s. The first railroad, begun in 1859, brought coal from Snow Shoe to the iron furnaces. Between 1850 and 1900, Bellefonte, the county seat, was the most prosperous community in central Pennsylvania. Home to numerous governors and state politicians, the Centre Region lobbied for and won the placement of the State Agricultural Society's Farmers' High School, now known as Penn State.

For more information about Centre County's rich history, see: http://centrecountyhistory.org/history/overview.html online.
For more information about Penn State's history, see: http://www.psu.edu/ur/about/history.html online.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009