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Trip Planner USA  /  Pennsylvania  /  Renovo


State Parks · Dams
Renovo is a borough in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, northwest of Lock Haven. In 1900, 4,082 people lived there, and in 1910, 4,621 lived there, but in the 2010 census the borough population was 1,228.The borough is located on the West Branch Susquehanna River, and along Pennsylvania's Bucktail State Park Natural Area, centered on Pennsylvania Route 120, which winds through the surrounding mountains following the river. The town is the home of the "Flaming Foliage Festival" held each October, generally in the second weekend, celebrating the fall colors of the trees on the area's many mountains. The festival includes a parade and the crowning of a queen, usually chosen from one of the nearby high schools. The festival serves as a "homecoming" event for former residents of Renovo, many of whom return annually for the event. Various vendors from the surrounding areas sell food, clothing, and an array of novelties, memorabilia, and souvenirs.The economy of Renovo and the surrounding area had been primarily based on lumbering, until the first-growth forest was almost entirely stripped away, and the industry collapsed. There are also deposits of bituminous coal and fire clay in the region.Renovo was built for and by the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad as the midpoint between Philadelphia and Erie. The town was laid out on a mostly-flat "flood plain" along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in North-Central Pennsylvania and incorporated in 1866. Many of the buildings which came to constitute what eventually became a sprawling Railroad Shops complex were built before, during, and after the American Civil War. The Philadelphia and Erie Railroad, along with many other relatively smaller lines eventually became incorporated into the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest corporation in the world with an annual GPO larger than the Federal Government and is the only corporation in history to have paid out dividends due to its profitability for 100 years. Unlike most "rural" towns and residential areas, Renovo was laid out in an industrially-oriented urban grid with avenues given names of the Great Lakes and "side streets" numbered from 1 to 16. Houses were mostly built close to one another or incorporated into "row houses." Houses with larger lots, allowing for big yards were a rare luxury. History shows that, before the town was completely built out, Renovo was known and advertised as a "resort town in the mountains." One can still find newspaper ads and brochures extolling the restorative mountain air, clean water, and outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting. There were several large hotels in the town well before the turn of the 20th century. The Railroad made access to this remote area seemingly quick and effortless for those living in other cities which enjoyed railroad service. The town boasted dozens of bars and restaurants as well as fine churches which gave testimony to the forward-directed, optimistic, and vigorous energy which fueled the town's growth and development. Just about every institution one would find in a town of the era or today such as medical personnel, hospital, YMCA, grade, middle, and high schools, taxi service, shops, clubs, lodges, fraternal organizations, professional services, sports teams, were established. The major employer, of course, was the Pennsylvania Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad Shops. As long as the Railroad prospered, the town was a bustling and humming hive of human activity. Some aspects of Railroad business began to decrease as early as before World War II but business surged back strongly during the War. However, further decline in demand for both passenger and freight transportation via the Railroad was to return in the form of the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the building of the Interstate Highway System, the surge of automobile ownership and use,and the consolidation of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Shop facilities to other locations such as Pittsburgh and Altoona. The closing of the shops in the 1960s tolled the death knell for Renovo as an enterprising town with a future. It's present population is less than 2,000 where it was once around 5,000. Many residents drive the two-lane, windy roads and I-80 to other towns for employment. There is also a substantial contingent of lifelong residents and transplants who are retired. The change in human activity over the years hasn't dimmed or substantially altered the natural beauty of this Allegheny Mountain area of the larger Appalachian Highlands.
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