(pop. 1,228), located in north-central Pennsylvania, is the most remote town with a population over 1,000 in Pennsylvania. Along with neighboring borough South Renovo (pop. 439) and some "suburban" areas (Falwell, West Renovo, Drurys Run, North Bend), the Greater Renovo area has a population of a little over 2,000. Situated on a thin strip of land along the West Branch Susquehanna River in western Clinton County (pop. 39,239), Renovo is a great distance from even the smallest towns (county seat Lock Haven is the closest at 28 miles southeast)... it is truly a frontier outpost. To the north, south and west... the closest towns over 1,000 are between 45 and 50 miles... distances extremely uncommon in the Eastern half of the United States. The motorist must be very strategic concerning gas stations... as you can go 50 miles without one in this part of PA (and probably none are open overnight). Renovo is the only morsel of civilization along PA-120 between Emporium and Lock Haven (73 miles known as the Bucktail State Park Wild Area Scenic Drive)... a rugged, twisty drive along wild rivers and through deep gorges.
Remarkable for its remoteness, Renovo was granted reason to exist in 1862 when the Philadelphia & Erie (P&E) Railroad arrived. Located at roughly the halfway point between Philly and Erie, the railroad developed the massive Renovo Railway Yards... featuring shops, engine roundhouse and station. The remaining land was laid out for streets of the new town, incorporated in 1866, and the town would thrive for the next century as a hub of railroad industry. In the early 20th century, Renovo had a peak population of close to 5,000.
Renovo would enter into a death spiral in the 1960s when the Pennsylvania Railroad closed the Renovo shops and passenger rail was discontinued.
One might expect such a middle-of-nowhere small town to have a rather low-density, pastoral form of development... but Renovo was developed as a high-density urban railroad town. It's like a slice of a big city neighborhood plopped into the rugged wilderness of northcentral Pennsylvania. The town is very quiet today and lacks any economic purpose... but many impressive historic commercial and residential structures remain. Despite its tiny population, there is a wealth of photographic exploration opportunities for the urban/architectural enthusiast.
Traveling PA 144 through Sproul State Forest on the way to Renovo... looking out across the Allegheny Front toward Bald Eagle Mountain.
Neat map at the overlook... Renovo resides in the "Deep Valleys" section of Pennsylvania... a highly dissected plateau region featuring extremely deep, narrow valleys.
A few miles north at Fish Dam Run.
I then slowly descend the plateau... winding and twisting and losing all radio signals... until I finally reach Renovo along the banks of the West Branch Susquehanna.
The railroad running through Renovo.
is in a middle-of-nowhere town of 1,000
Renovo's street grid is criss-crossed by gritty alleyways
dormant rail facility
Renovo's downtown is located on the northern edge of town... across the street from the rail complex. Once bustling with activity, the street is now still.
the commercial corridor is a one-sided street... facing the railroad
some defaced commercial structures
Renovo Borough building
these are sweet
I love clotheslines... so much character!
The ruins of Renovo Public School... closed in 1975 when the suburban Bucktail school complex was completed. This school was partially razed in 2001... only the entrances remain standing sentinel over the pile of rubble.
St. Joseph's... the church had a school... but it was closed in in 1982 after 107 years of operation. The school was razed in 1987 for that lovely church parking lot in the foreground.
badass siding on these three houses
crossing the West Branch Susquehanna to little sister South Renovo
popular canoeing area
A few miles east of Renovo is Hyner View, which offers panoramic views of the West Branch Susquehanna and the Allegheny Plateau.
looking east toward Lock Haven
popular hang gliding spot
west toward Renovo... with the tiny village of Hyner below
wall built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
house in Hyner
Hyner View from below
farewell from Clinton County, PA!