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Old Posted Feb 1, 2012, 5:03 PM
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Evergrey Evergrey is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 24,339
Thanks for the commentary, Renovo Resident. I'm happy somebody from Renovo has found this.

These photos are really an expression of praise for Renovo... which is an awesome and somewhat unusual town. This is a primarily big-city forum here... so a town of 1,000 surrounded by a block of wilderness larger than the state of Connecticut is pretty foreign to a lot of the contributors to this forum.

I'm a native of St. Marys... so this type of environment is not foreign to me.

I'm glad you enjoyed the photos and could shed some insight on Renovo.
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Old Posted Mar 10, 2016, 6:38 AM
willec49 willec49 is offline
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Bill C./Former Renovo Resident/Native

Renovo was built for and by the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad as the mid-point 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 build 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, consolidation of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Shop facilities to other locations such as Pittsburgh and Altoona. The closing of the shops in the 1960's 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. As others have noted here, many residents drive the two-land, 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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