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Bedford County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvaniamarker. As of the 2000 census, the population was 49,984. The county seat is Bedfordmarker. The unincorporated town of Breezewoodmarker is located in the eastern edge. It is part of the Altoona, Pennsylvaniamarker, Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Robert MacRay opened the first trading post in Raystownmarker (which is now Bedford) on the land that is now Bedford County in 1750. The settlers had a difficult time dealing with raids from Indians and the fighting between the French and the British.

In 1759, after the capture of Fort Duquesnemarker in Allegheny Countymarker, a road was built between the fort (which was renamed to Fort Pittmarker) to the newly built Fort Bedfordmarker in Raystown. The road turned from Indian trails, into "Forbes Road", and still later into the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Bedford County was created on March 9, 1771 from part of Cumberland Countymarker and named in honor of the Fort Bedford.

The area quickly increased in population once safety became more established. The land with its lush farmland and woodland became an attractive site. It also formed an important center on the way to Pittsburghmarker and farther west of Pennsylvania. George Washington stayed in the county in response to the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.

The Bedford Springs Hotelmarker became an important site for the wealthy. Under President James Buchanan, the hotel became the summer White Housemarker. The U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker met at the hotel once. It was the only time that the high court met outside of the Capitalmarker.

The 19th century featured a population boom in the county with the population doubling in size between 1870 and 1890. Railroads passing through the town connected the county with the mining industry.

View from Glade Pike on Dry Ridge.

Law and Government

Pennsylvania State Senate

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

United States House of Representatives


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,017 square miles (2,635 km²), of which, 1,015 square miles (2,628 km²) of it is land and 3 square miles (7 km²) of it (0.28%) is water.

Major Highways

Adjacent counties

Significant Topographic Features


Blue Knob Mountain (3,146 ft)from Helixville

Bedford County is situated along the western border of the Ridge and Valley physiographic province, which is characterized by folded and faulted sedimentary rocks of early to middle Paleozoic age. The northwestern border of the county is approximately at the Allegheny Front, a geological boundary between the Ridge and Valley Province and the Allegheny Plateau (characterized by relatively flat-lying sedimentary rocks of late Paleozoic age). ( PA Geological Survey Map 13)

The stratigraphic record of sedimentary rocks within the county spans from the Cambrian Warrior Formation to the Pennsylvanian Conemaugh Group (in the Broad Top area). No igneous or metamorphic rocks of any kind exist within the county.

The primary mountains within the county (From west to east: Willsmarker, Evitts, Dunning, and Tusseymarker mountains) extend from the southern border with Marylandmarker to the northeast into Blair Countymarker, and are held up by the Silurian Tuscarora Formation, made of quartz sandstone and conglomerate. Chestnut Ridge is a broad anticline held up by the Devonian Ridgeley Member of the Old Port Formation, also made of sandstone and conglomerate. Broad Top, located north of Breezewood, is a plateau of relatively flat-lying rocks that are stratigraphically higher, and thus younger (Mississippian and Pennsylvanian), than most of the other rocks within the county (Cambrian through Devonian). Broad Top extends into Huntingdon Countymarker to the north and Fulton Countymarker to the east.

The Raystown Branch of the Juniata River is the main drainage in the northern two-thirds of the county. The river flows to the east through the mountains within the county through several water gaps caused by a group of faults trending east-west through the central part of the county. The river then turns north and flows into Raystown Lakemarker in Huntingdon County. The southern third of the county is drained by several tributaries of the Potomac River. Both the Potomac and Juniata rivers are part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Several limestone quarries exist in Bedford County, most of which are owned and operated by New Enterprise Stone and Lime Company. Quarry locations include Ashcom, New Paris, Kilcoin, and Sproul. [13443].

Two coal fields exist within Bedford County. One is the Broad Top Field in the northeastern corner of the county, and the other is the Georges Creek Field along the southwestern border [13444]. Both fields contain bituminous coal. There are abandoned mines in both areas and acid mine drainage is an environmental problem in the Broad Top area, where several fishless streams exist as a result of the discharge from the abandoned mines. [13445].

Natural gas fields and storage areas exist in southeastern Bedford County, primarily within folded Devonian rocks south of Breezewoodmarker. Another deep gas field exists in the vicinity of Blue Knobmarker on the border with Blair Countymarker to the north. ( PA Geological Survey Map 10)


As of the census of 2000, there were 49,984 people, 19,768 households, and 14,489 families residing in the county. The population density was 49 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 23,529 housing units at an average density of 23 per square mile (9/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.54% White, 0.36% Black or African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 0.54% from two or more races. 0.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 42.8% were of German, 17.4% Americanmarker, 8.1% English and 8.1% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 19,768 households out of which 30.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.70% were married couples living together, 7.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.70% were non-families. 23.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.60% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 28.10% from 25 to 44, 24.60% from 45 to 64, and 16.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 97.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.40 males.


Map of Bedford County, Pennsylvania with Municipal Labels showing Boroughs (red) and Townships (white).
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in only one case (Bloomsburg, Columbia Countymarker), towns. The following boroughs and townships are located in Bedford County:



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Public School Districts


There are 3 Pennsylvania state parks in Bedford County.

See also


  • "THE KERNEL OF GREATNESS: An Informal Bicentennial History of Bedford County (Pennsylvania)", by Bedford County Heritage Commission (Author), B/W Illus (Illustrator), 1971, ASIN B000KYDYOE

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