Shamokin, Pennsylvania

Shamokin (/ʃəˈmkɪn/; Saponi Algonquian Schahamokink, meaning "place of eels") (Lenape Indian language: Shahëmokink [4]) is a city in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, surrounded by Coal Township at the western edge of the Anthracite Coal Region in central Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River Valley. It was named after a Saponi Indian village, Schahamokink. At the 2010 decennial United States Census, the population was 7,374, approximately half what it was in 1950.

Shamokin, Pennsylvania
Location of City of Shamokin and adjacent Coal Township in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.
Location of Shamokin in Pennsylvania
Shamokin (the United States)
Coordinates: 40°47′21″N 76°33′17″W
CountryUnited States
Incorporated (borough)1864
Incorporated (city)1949
  MayorJohn J. Brown
  CouncilmanDaniel McGaw, Director of Parks and Recreation
  CouncilmanJohn J. Brown, Director of Public Safety
  CouncilmanCharles R. Varano, Director of Public Works
  CouncilwomanBarbara S. Moyer, Director of Accounts and Finance
  Total0.83 sq mi (2.16 km2)
  Land0.83 sq mi (2.16 km2)
  Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
[2] (benchmark in center of city)
741 ft (226 m)
Highest elevation
[2] (northern boundary on Big Mountain)
1,080 ft (330 m)
Lowest elevation
[2] (Shamokin Creek)
710 ft (220 m)
  Density8,335.73/sq mi (3,218.37/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern Standard Time (EST))
  Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)570 and 272
FIPS code42-69600


The first human settlement of Shamokin was probably Shawnee natives migrants. A large population of Delaware Indians (also known as the Lenapes) were also forcibly resettled there in the early 18th century after they lost rights to their land in the "Walking Purchase" (also known as the "Walking Treaty") along the eastern border of the colonial Province of Pennsylvania in the upper northern reaches of the Delaware River in 1737. Canasatego of the Six Nations, enforcing the Walking Purchase on behalf of George Thomas, Deputy Governor of Pennsylvania (1738-1747), ordered the Delaware Indians to go to two places on the Susquehanna River.

The city of present-day Shamokin lies along Shamokin Creek. Shamokin was founded in 1835 by the coal speculators John C. Boyd and Ziba Bird, it was early known as Boyd's Stone-coal Quarry, Boydtown, and New Town.[5] The discovery of anthracite coal resources in the region, known as "hard coal," became the basis of much industry. Railroad companies, such as Reading Railroad, bought interests in coal and became major employers of the area, building railroads to ship coal to markets and controlling most jobs. Workers gradually organized into unions to develop means of bargaining with these powerful companies. During the nationwide Great Railroad Strike of July 1877, workers in the 1877 Shamokin Uprising at that time marched and demonstrated during the summer period of labor unrest.

Shamokin was incorporated earlier as a borough under the Commonwealth constitution on November 9, 1864, and subsequently as a city 85 years later, on February 21, 1949. In addition to anthracite coal-mining, it became an industrial center in the 19th century, with silk and knitting mills, stocking and shirt factories, wagon shops, ironworks, and brickyards. The dominant Eagle Silk Mill became the largest textile manufacturing building under one roof in the United States.

Famous inventor, scientist and entrepreneur Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), briefly a resident of nearby Sunbury, established the Edison Illuminating Company of Shamokin in the fall of 1882. When the Shamokin power generating station on Independence Street started on September 22, 1883, St. Edward's Roman Catholic Church which was connected, became the first church in the world to be lit by electricity.[6] Until 2017, Jones Hardware Company was located at the Independence Street site of the former 1882 Edison electrical station in Shamokin.[7])

In the 1877 Shamokin Uprising, railroad workers and miners angered by unexpected cuts in wages begun by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) joined what developed across the East with the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which began with strikes in neighboring Martinsburg, West Virginia, then others in Maryland including the headquarters of the B&O at its Camden Street Station in downtown Baltimore then spread north and west into Pennsylvania and to Pittsburgh and other sites conducted in several major industrial cities in Pennsylvania, as well as more cities in the Northeast and as far west through to St. Louis and Missouri. Mayor William Douty commissioned a citizen manned local militia unit to help during the unrest. They shot into a group of strikers, wounding 12 and killing two bystanders who were not even involved in the protest. Five strikers were convicted of rioting and jailed for up to eight months for their part in the actions.

At the turn of the 20th century, resident William A. Conway wrote Murder at Hickory Ridge (1905) as a "dime novel", hoping to cash in on their popularity. It was a fictionalized account of an unsolved murder in the Shamokin area. His two brothers, Alphonsus E. and John J., printed the book on a press in their garage. They continued their business, starting the Conway Print Shop. With the profits from the sale of the novel, the Conway brothers later started the Black Diamond Publishing Company in 1905 and founded Black Diamond Magazine to disseminate news of the anthracite coal region. The brothers developed a way to print a roll of tickets, planning to market them to the new movie theaters being built in the area. To meet a request by the nearby Hazleton Baseball Club, they partnered with merchant Nicholas R. Ludes to make a big purchase of colored paper.[8]

Together the Conway brothers and Ludes founded what became the National Ticket Company, located in Shamokin since 1907. At one time it was the largest ticket manufacturing company in the United States. Their first production facility was built in 1911 at the corner of Pearl and Webster Streets. A 1942 fire gutted the plant, although the brick shell still stands. The replacement building at Pearl Street and Ticket Avenue was completed in 1950 and has since served as company headquarters. The business is still owned by descendants of the Conway and Ludes families. In the 21st century National Ticket has developed international customers as well to grow its business.[8]

Edgewood Park, also known as Indian Park, was operated in Shamokin as an increasing popular amusement park from 1905 through the late 1950s, featuring a roller coaster and other rides and entertainments, and attracting regional crowds. Its 97 acres (390,000 m2) included a large pond. Faced with different needs in the 1950s, the Shamokin area school district developed this property for new elementary and high schools.

The Victoria Theatre in town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1985. It unfortunately was demolished in 2004 and delisted.[9]


From the post-World War II period, there has been massive restructuring in the railroad and other industries, causing a massive loss of jobs in areas that had enjoyed industrial prosperity, with good working incomes for union people. In addition, there has been pressure on the coal industry due to changes in law to improve air, water, and land quality and prevent environmental contamination. By the early 21st century, Shamokin was part of an economically depressed area.

In June 2014, Shamokin was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for Act 47 Distressed City status after several banks refused it loans for outstanding bills.[10] The designation enables loans from the Commonwealth. Shamokin city officials are required to develop a plan to achieve long-term financial stability and eligibility to leave the program. Only one city in Pennsylvania has ever exited Act 47 status by 2015.[11]

In February 2015, the city was approved to raise its earned income tax to 2 percent a week. Out of the total revenue generated from the tax, 50 percent would go to the school district. By law, municipalities can tax citizens only 1 percent a week in the earned income tax, but financially distressed cities can petition the courts to increase it to 2 percent a week.[12]

In December 2013, Shamokin City Council cut several full-time police officer positions in an effort to reduce budget overruns into compliance.[13]

The Shamokin City Council unanimously approved a 2015 budget of $3.7 million setting property taxes at 58.1 mills. Salaries and benefits of city employees cost $1,956,257, which is 69 percent of all general fund spending.[14] The 2014 real estate tax levy is 47.35 mills. The city adopted a $2.3 million budget in 2014.[15] Bartos had received a $9,350 raise approved by city council in 2012. He had successfully applied for several grants including: $3.4 million for a creek channel preservation project, a grant to expand Claude Kehler Community Park, and another to restore the "99 steps," a city landmark.


A coal pile near Shamokin, Pennsylvania from Shamokin

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2), all of it land.

Shamokin has two small creeks that divide the town. Carbon Run merges with Shamokin Creek in the north of the town and ultimately empties into the Susquehanna River just south of Shamokin Dam near Sunbury.

The city has a warm-summer humid continental climate (Dfb) and average monthly temperatures range from 25.9 °F in January to 71.1 °F in July. The hardiness zone is 6a.

It's also home to the world's largest man made culm bank – the Cameron/Glen Burn Colliery Culm Bank.


Historical population
2019 (est.)6,952[3]−5.7%

As of the census of 2000,[18] there were 8,009 people, 3,742 households, and 2,028 families residing in the city. The population density was 9,601.9 people per square mile (3,725.7/km2). There were 4,674 housing units at an average density of 5,603.6 per square mile (2,174.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.8% White, 0.1% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from other races, and 0.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 0.6% of the population.

There were 3,742 households, out of which 24.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.8% were non-families. 41.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 22.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the city, the population had 22.2% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 21.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $20,173, and the median income for a family was $30,038. Males had a median income of $28,261 versus $19,120 for females. The per capita income was $12,354. About 19.3% of families and 60.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.2% of those under age 18 and 21.3% of those age 65 or over.


Map of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania public school districts

Children residing in Shamokin may attend the local, public schools operated by the Shamokin Area School District. They may also opt to attend a private school with tuition at the parent's expense. The public school district is required by state law to transport children to any school within ten miles of its borders. Local private schools include Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School and Meadowview Christian Academy. In 2015 and 2015 the Pennsylvania Department of Education placed the high school on the state's lowest academic achievement list.[20] This makes pupils at the high school eligible for the state's Opportunity Scholarship Program to attend other schools both public and private.[21]

Shamokin Area School District provides taxpayer funded half day preschool and full day kindergarten through 12th grade, with an enrollment of 2,375 pupils in 2016.[22] It had an enrollment of 2,522 pupils in 2013.[23] In 2011, Shamokin Area School District enrollment was 2,356 pupils.[24] The District's enrollment was 2,443 pupils in 2005–06.[25] Shamokin Area School District operates four schools in two buildings: Shamokin Area High School (9-12), Shamokin Area Middle School (7 & 8), Shamokin Area Intermediate School (5&6) and Shamokin Area Elementary School (preschool-4th). In 2014, Shamokin Area School District's graduation rate was 82.8%.[26]

Shamokin Area School District statewide academic ranking declined further to 445th out of the 493 ranked Pennsylvania school districts, in 2016, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[27] The District is the lowest ranked school district in the CSIU16 region. In 2014, the Pittsburgh Business Times ranked Shamokin Area School District 407th out of 496 public schools for academic achievement of its pupils.[28] In 2012, Shamokin Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) despite the low academic achievement at the high school.[29]

High school age students can attend the taxpayer funded Northumberland County Career and Technology Center, in Coal Township, for training in the building trades, auto mechanics, culinary arts, allied health careers and other areas. Northumberland County Career and Technology Center is funded by a consortium of the school districts that includes Line Mountain School District, Mount Carmel Area School District and Shamokin Area School District. It also receives state and federal government grants.

Shamokin residents may also apply to attend any of the Commonwealth's 14 public cyber charter schools at no additional cost to the parents. This includes SusQ Cyber Charter School, which is locally operated. The resident's public school district is required to pay the charter school and cyber charter school tuition for residents who attend these public schools.[30][31] The tuition rate that Shamokin Area School District must pay was $7,050.50 in 2012. Residents may also seek admission for their school age child to any other public school district. The student's parents owe annual tuition set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit #16 provides a wide variety of services to children living in its region, which includes Shamokin. Early screening, special education services, speech and hearing therapy, autistic support, preschool classes and many other services like driver education are available. Services for children during the preschool years are provided without cost to their families when the child is determined to meet eligibility requirements. Intermediate units receive taxpayer funding through subsidies paid by member school districts, direct charges to users for some services, state and federal competitive grants, and private grants.[32]

Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) has a satellite campus in the Careerlink Building, Arch Street, Shamokin.

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is a public university in Bloomsburg. It is one of the 14 state universities that make up the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). Eleventh and twelfth grade students may attend Bloomsburg at a significant discount through its dual enrollment program, earning college credits while still working toward their high school diplomas. Bloomsburg also operates a summer college program, ACE,[33] where high school students can earn credits at a 75% discount. The credits are transferable to many other Pennsylvania universities through the state's TRAC system.[34]

Shamokin High School Alumni is the first and longest active Alumni Association in the United States – established in 1883

Mayoral election history

  • 2017 - John Brown (R) over William Milbrand (D)
  • 2013 - William Milbrand (D) over Daniel McGaw (R)
  • 2009 - George Rozinskie (D) over Betsy Richardson (D)
  • 2005 - Ronald Bradley (R) over Edward O'Donnell (D)
  • 2001 - James Yurick Jr. (D) over Betsy Richardson (R)
  • 1997 - James Yurick Jr. (D) over Ronald Bradley (R)
  • 1993 - Daniel Strausser (R) over James Yurick Jr. (D)
  • 1989 - Harvey M. Boyer (D) over Daniel Strausser (R) [35]
  • 1985 - Harvey M. Boyer (D) over Malcom C. Farrow IV (R)
  • 1981 - William L. Rickert over Harvey M. Boyer (D)

Shamokin is referenced in the 1930 film King of Jazz during the "Has Anybody Seen Our Nellie?" number in the final line of the chorus, "Please send her back to Shamokin, P-A."

Notable people


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  2. "Shamokin Topo Map, Northumberland County PA (Shamokin Area)". TopoZone. Locality, LLC. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  3. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. "Lenape Talking Dictionary". Archived from the original on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
  5. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Shamokin". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  6. Hall, Garth. "Thomas Edison, known world-wide as one of the most prolific inventors in history, held 1,097 U". The News-Item. Shamokin, PA: Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  7. "History of Jones Hardware and Home Center". Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  8. "Our History". National Ticket Company. 2016.
  9. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  10. Pennsylvania Department of Community Economic Development (2014). "Shamokin City Act 47 Determination of Distress". Archived from the original on 2015-09-25.
  11. Emily Previti (Jun 5, 2014). "Last resort becoming reality for Shamokin".
  12. Justin Strawser (February 26, 2015). "Shamokin gets OK for $1 a week Earned Income Tax increase". The Daily Item.
  13. PA (December 24, 2013). "Shamokin Council Budget Cuts".
  14. Eric Scicchitano (December 4, 2014). "Shamokin votes to adopt 2015 $3.7M budget". New Item.
  15. Eric Scicchitano (February 7, 2014). "Bartos resigns as Shamokin City Clerk". The News-Item.
  16. "Number of Inhabitants: Pennsylvania" (PDF). 18th Census of the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  17. "Pennsylvania: Population and Housing Unit Counts" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  18. "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  19. "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  20. PDE, Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program 2016, 2016
  21. PA Department of Community and Economic Development (2017). "Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program".
  22. PDE (October 4, 2016). "Shamokin Area School District Fast Facts 2016".
  23. Pennsylvania Department of Education, District Fast Facts - Shamokin Area School District, November 6, 2014
  24. NCES, Common Core of Data - Shamokin Area School District, 2011
  25. Pennsylvania Department of Education, Enrollment and Projections by LEA 2005-06 - 2020, July 2010
  26. Pennsylvania Department of Education (November 6, 2013). "Shamokin Area High School School Performance Profile 2014".
  27. Pittsburgh Business Times (April 12, 2016). "Chester County district leads statewide Honor Roll 2016".
  28. Pittsburgh Business Times (April 6, 2014). "Guide to Pennsylvania Schools Statewide ranking 2014".
  29. Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 21, 2012). "Shamokin Area School District AYP Overview 2012". Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  30. Pennsylvania Department of Education (2013). "Charter Schools".
  31. Pennsylvania Department of Education, What is a Charter School?, 2013
  32. Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit 16 Administration (2014). "About the CSIU". Archived from the original on 2014-10-29.
  33. Bloomsburg University Administration (2013). "High School ACE".
  34. PA Transfer and Articulation Center (2014). "Take Your Credits with You".
  35. "Mayoral history in Shamokin". The News Item. Shamokin, PA. November 1, 2013.
  36. Barke, Bill. "Chairman". Bloomberg.
  37. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-31. Retrieved 2014-10-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  38. Reynolds, Patrick M. (1980). Startling Stories About Pennsylvania. Red Rose Studio. ISBN 0-932514-04-9.
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