Located slightly southeast of the center of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Juniata County covers 394 square miles of farmland and forest. Beautiful scenery near the Juniata River shows the county to be sparsely populated with an average population of only 57 people per square mile. The number of chickens and diary cows far outweigh the number of people farming them – chicken hatcheries and grow out facilities are the main employers in Juniata County.
Every spring and summer folks head out to the Juniata River for a little fun in the sun. Come enjoy some of the best smallmouth bass fishing you’ll find anywhere in America. After a hard day at work or play, relax in our delightful country setting.
History of Juniata County
Juniata County, named for the river flowing through, was erected from Mifflin County in 1831. Juniata, a Seneca name, originally meant “standing stone”; but a later connotation favors “blue waters.”
Mifflintown, the county seat, was laid out in 1791 on lands belonging to John Harris, and the town was named in honor of Governor Thomas Mifflin.
In 1752, a treaty with the Iroquois opened this land to Scot-Irish immigrants and these hearty pioneers began to make their way to this magnificent valley. German farmers arrived shortly thereafter and helped clear the land known today as Juniata and Mifflin Counties. When the Indians formed an alliance with the British during the Revolutionary War, loyal patriots guarded General Washington’s flank against Indian attacks. Local militia had formed and the Logan Guards answered Washington’s call. They made their way south to become a vital reinforcement to Washington’s fort on the Potomac.
Juniata and Mifflin Counties had everything needed by the early settlers. Carving its way through the valley, the Juniata River offered an ideal source of water, food and transportation. A good hunter easily provided food for his family. Prior to the Civil War, lumbering was our first industry, leading to a number of iron producing furnaces. This magnificent valley became a beautiful and prosperous place to live.
Today, Juniata and Mifflin Counties are still wonderful places to live, work, and raise a family. While lumbering is no longer a chief industry, many major corporations have settled into our rural communities. The beauty found in our area remains unspoiled and harmonizes with area industrial growth.
The Juniata River has always played a vital part in our communities. Its first major role was transportation, linking our communities to others across Pennsylvania via a well designed canal system. Today, you can still walk along these restored canals found in Mifflin County at the Locust Campground. Eventually the railroad replaced the Pennsylvania Canal, and then came developed interstate roads.
Nowadays, the Juniata River and its tributaries are popular recreation spots, providing Mifflin and Juniata Counties with excellent fishing, swimming and boating. The Juniata River has an average depth of 3 or 4 feet. Pools go as deep as 15 feet. Long, gentle gliding riffles make “floating” an ideal pastime. Smallmouth bass fishing is the best you will find in the country. Brown bullhead, muskellunge, walleye, carp, channel catfish and a variety of trout also find home in our waters. Boat access to the Juniata River’s 92-mile run is exceptional. Five Commission owned and maintained public access areas lie in our two county areas.
While hunting is no longer a necessity for survival, hunting in Juniata and Mifflin Counties provides plentiful opportunity. White-tailed deer, turkey, grouse, bear and a variety of small game lure many serious hunters into our area.
Our mountains are home to many trails for hiking and backpacking; the Mid-State Trail passes through Mifflin County. The people of Juniata and Mifflin Counties have long strived to uphold their small-town way of life. We are proud of our heritage and work hard to maintain a standard of living not usually found in a rural area.
Visiting our area can be like a trip back in time. You will still find the descendants of early German settlers living among us. We are home to a large number of Amish and Mennonite families and share many of their customs. Their presence makes our area truly unique. A long standing tradition is the Belleville Livestock Market. Hundreds of families and visitors from far and wide meet in Belleville every Wednesday for the combination farmers market, flea market and livestock auction. Other farmers’ markets can be found on a seasonal basis.
Colonial structures still grace our streets. A sense of the past is ever present in our small communities, most of which are home to numerous antique and specialty shops. Historic museums are plentiful, giving visitors the opportunity to learn about our people, history and traditions, and to understand the unique qualities of the region. Small towns have always been known for the finest in specialty gift shops – overflowing with personal service! The shops throughout Juniata and Mifflin Counties promise you a memorable shopping experience.
Our entertainment and cultural activities easily rival any small community. We are home to art exhibits, craft shows, theatre performances, concerts and recitals, parades, and weekly community activities. Tours of historic sites, the homes of past statesmen, museums, and covered bridges run throughout the area. Our past has been important in training some of today’s best craftsmen in the country. Artists of all trades find inspiration living among the people and the land of Juniata and Mifflin Counties.
Learn more from the Juniata County Historical Society.
Our Historic Courthouse
Early this year, Juniata County was selected by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) to be highlighted on PCNTV’s “Pennsylvania’s Historic Courthouses” series. The actual taping took place on May 4th. Juniata County’s video (below) aired Thursday, September 7, 7 p.m. and Saturday, September 9, 2 p.m. on PCNTV.
2020 Census Data by Municipality
Data from the 2020 Census shows that Juniata County declined in population by 4.6% from 2010 to 2020, while Pennsylvania grew by 0.6% during the most recent decade. Here’s the increase or decrease in population for each township or borough in Juniata County.
|Geographic Area||Percent Change|
|Port Royal Borough||-12.8%|
|Spruce Hill Township||-4.9%|