Pennsylvania Mountains – Defining Our Dream – County List

How I arrived here

This past week I have been spending my time studying online, going over maps, and reading the reference books I have on hand trying to settle on an area of coverage for this site.

I started out with a Physiographic Map of Pennsylvania I downloaded(1). I tried to overlay that with a Pennsylvania Tourism & Transportation Map I received from the state last year. Then I went to the Visit Pennsylvania site and tried to figure out their regional distribution. Finally I ended up studying the Longstreet Highroad Guide To The Pennsylvania Mountains by Greg and Karen Czarnecki(2). It was the first map and the guide that I decided to use to decide my editorial coverage.

Overview

Pennsylvania is divided into six or seven major physiographic provinces (depending on source, the map has six the book has seven). Of these provinces only three contain mountain areas. The majority of the state is located in the Appalachian Plateau. This province is divided into ten regions, not all of which contain mountains. The next province is the Valley and Ridge Province that arcs across the center part of the state. The final mountain province is the Blue Ridge Province which has its northern most presence here covers just portions of three counties.

The mountains of Pennsylvania are blessed with a forest ecosystem. While the original settlers to these mountains would not recognize these as the forests they were familiar with, the coverage is almost as great as the virgin forest of three centuries ago. Trees dominate much of the topography of these mountains today…Valleys, mountaintops and plateaus are all tree covered again today after having been stripped of their growth during the first two centuries of settlement by European settlers.

The Provinces and the Counties

  • Appalachian Plateaus Province – The largest of the physiographic provinces is divided into six sections, two of which do not fall within the mountain region. The four sections we will be are:
    • Allegheny Mountain Section – Cut by numerous streams feeding the three major rivers that flow into the Ohio River, this section rises from west to east. Where the rivers cross the ridges at the east end of the province they have cut deep, spectacular water gaps. Some of these gaps are over 1000 feet deep. This region, as with most of the state, was almost completely logged over in the nineteenth century.  The highest point in Pennsylvania lies here at Mount Davis on Negro Mountain. This section contains all or part of the following counties:
      • Centre County
      • Blair County
      • Clearfield County
      • Cambria County
      • Indiana County
      • Westmoreland County
      • Somerset County
      • Fayette County
    • Allegheny High Plateau Section – This is the highest section in the Appalachian Plateau Province. Mostly forested, sparsely settled…The highest point in this section is a triple divide at 2,560 feet is the meeting place of three watersheds. Rain falling at this place in Potter County flows either into the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico or the Great Lakes.  This section contains all or part of the following counties:
      • Warren County
      • Forest County
      • Venango County
      • Clarion County
      • Jefferson County
      • Elk County
      • McKean County
      • Cameron County
      • Clearfield County
      • Centre County
      • Clinton County
      • Potter County
      • Tioga County
      • Lycoming County
    • Pocono Mountain Section – This section is predominantly gently rolling hills with a relative elevation of just about 300 feet (overall elevations range from 1,300 to 1640 feet). This area is best known for its vacation and recreation areas. This section contains all or part of the following counties:
      • Pike County
      • Monroe County
      • Wayne County
      • Lackawanna County
      • Luzerne County
    • Glaciated Low Plateau – This mostly wooded region was shaped by glaciation. Glaciation created a varied topography with swamps, bogs and lakes being common. With elevations ranging from 754 feet on the Susquehanna River to the eastern edge at 2,300 feet where the ridges continue on into New York as the Catskill Mountains.  This section contains all or part of the following counties:
      • Tioga County
      • Bradford County
      • Susquehanna County
      • Wyoming County
      • Wayne County
      • Pike County
      • Monroe County
      • Lackawanna County
  • Valley and Ridge Province – Containing some of the most dramatic scenery in Pennsylvania, this province flows as a series of parallel ridges from the Maryland border on the south to the New Jersey border on the east and covers almost a quarter of the state. This province is divided into two sections; the Appalachian Mountain Section and the Great Valley section. This site will only cover the Appalachian Mountain Section, this section contains all or part of the following counties:
    • Appalachian Mountain Section
      • Bedford County
      • Fulton County
      • Franklin County
      • Blair County
      • Huntington County
      • Mifflin County
      • Juniata County
      • Perry County
      • Cumberland County
      • Centre County
      • Lycoming County
      • Clinton County
      • Montour County
      • Columbia County
      • Snyder County
      • Northumberland County
      • Dauphin County
      • Lebanon County
      • Schuylkill County
      • Luzerne County
      • Lackawanna County
      • Carbon County
      • Monroe County
  • Blue Ridge Province – One of the smallest provinces in Pennsylvania, this section of mountains only extends 40 miles north of the Maryland border and marks the end of the Blue Ridge that began in Georgia. In Pennsylvania this section is known as the South Mountain. This section contains all or part of the following counties:
    • Franklin County
    • Adams County
    • Cumberland County

Sources:

  1. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA; DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES; BUREAU OF TOPOGRAPHIC AND GEOLOGIC SURVEY – www.dcnr.state.pa.us/topogeo
  2. Longstreet Highroad Guide to the Pennsylvania Mountains (The Highroad Guides) at Amazon

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