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Hollidaysburg Borough


Hollidaysburg Borough Hall is located at 401 Blair Street, Hollidaysburg PA 16648; phone: 814-695-7543.

Hollidaysburg Borough Courthouse Area, Blair County, Pennsylvania
Photo: Hollidaysburg Borough Hall

Selected text, below, was adapted from the Juniata River Corridor Reconnaissance Survey. [1]

Hollidaysburg was first settled in the 1770s by Adam and William Holliday, brothers who laid out the town and sold lots in 1796. In the foothills of the Alleghenies, the community remained small and in 1814 numbered only a few houses and a tavern. It grew, however, following completion of the Huntingdon, Cambria, and Indiana Turnpike, and in 1832 the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal opened the area to eastern markets. The Allegheny Portage Railroad, completed two years later, joined the canal to create a link between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, foreshadowing an era of commercial prosperity for Hollidaysburg during which the town, as terminus of the Juniata Division of the canal, became the location for the canal basin. In 1836 the borough was incorporated, and within a few years the population soared, reaching nearly 2,000 inhabitants by 1840. Six years later Hollidaysburg became the seat of Blair County. More than 140 homes, warehouses, and other commercial buildings were present in 1850. Iron production in the Juniata region increased, and pig iron was hauled to Hollidaysburg for delivery to Pittsburgh. Besides marketing, the village became a focus of passenger service along the canal and railroad, leading to the construction of several hotels. Later, the banking industry augmented local business.

When the Pennsylvania Railroad laid its route north of Hollidaysburg in the 1840s and 1850s, fears grew that the community's business would be diverted. In 1857 the portage railroad was discontinued. However, a number of branch lines converged at Hollidaysburg to continue to serve local and regional interests. Notably, in 1873 a line was extended east to Williamsburg; by 1900 it reached Petersburg, providing transportation to market for coal, limestone, iron ore, and other products. Early in the 20th century the Pennsylvania Railroad established a large switching yard at Hollidaysburg, ensuring the continued economic health of the community into the 1950s. Through most of its 19th and 20th century existence, Hollidaysburg has played a significant role in the development of transportation in the area of west-central Pennsylvania and in the promotion of regional enterprise.

Cultural Resources

Hollidaysburg Historic District. This property, on the National Register of Historic Places, encompasses architecturally significant structures dating from the mid 19th century and contains a variety of homes, government buildings, churches, and commercial structures that exhibit styles ranging from Gothic Revival to Italianate to Romanesque to late Victorian. The diverse array of structures includes (1) Highland Hall, a female academy built in 1892 of locally quarried limestone; (2) the Blair County Courthouse, a Victorian Gothic Revival building erected in 1877; (3) the turreted Blair County Jail, built in 1869; and (4) the 1869-70 Presbyterian Church with its corbeled brickwork and carved stone arches. Most of the structures are along Allegheny, Walnut, and Montgomery streets. A number of canal-related brick and frame buildings stand along the north side of South Juniata Street. Some of these structures could be impacted by future development in Hollidaysburg. In addition, a number of the structures on south Juniata Street show signs of neglect.

Chimney Rocks. A geological feature on the ridge overlooking Hollidaysburg from the south, Chimney Rocks afforded a broad view of the countryside. Historically, perhaps prehistorically, it served as an observation point for Indians and a place for council meetings. Now owned by the Blair County Historical Society, Chimney Rocks is about 1 mile from the road between Hollidaysburg and Leamersville and is south of the Juniata.

Site of Fort Holliday. This site is along US 22 approximately 1/2 mile east of Hollidaysburg. The log fort was built from a barn in 1777 for protection against Indian attack. There may be archeological resources on the site, which would be subject to the effects of long-term erosion. There is no threat of immediate development.

Site of Fort Fetter. Fort Fetter, raised in 1777 as a defense against Indians, stood approximately 1 mile west of Hollidaysburg and was garrisoned by militia and rangers during the Revolutionary War. The site is a few hundred yards northeast of US 22. Although there is no immediate threat from development, any archeological resources are subject to long-term exposure and the chance of erosion.

Holliday—Jackson Burial Ground. This small cemetery off Newry Lane in the Gaysport section southwest of Hollidaysburg marks the site of the grainfield where Indians killed William Holliday's three children during the Revolutionary War. Holliday escaped north to Fort Roberdeau. The children were buried where their bodies lay. The historic site has changed since the incident. The cemetery is under no immediate threat.

Canal Remains. Several canal sites are in the vicinity of Hollidaysburg. At the foot of Montgomery Street is the site of the terminus of the Juniata Division, the basin area where the canal boats were transferred to cars and pulled to the start of the portage incline. South Juniata Street parallels the railroad and the former location of the canal bed. South of the Blair Street extension (US 22) are traces of the canal ditch and towpath. All such features may be threatened by long-term erosion and vegetative growth.

Natural and Scenic Resources From Hollidaysburg east to the Frankstown Branch [Juniata River], the shallow Beaverdam Branch is heavily impacted by urban development. One consequence is that the stream's water quality is poor, being degraded by such pollutants as road and railroad yard runoff, sewage plant effluent, and possible dumping. Because of the surrounding urbanization, vegetation along 90 percent of this segment is comprised solely of narrow bands of streambank vegetation.

Recreation Resources The Blair County Foundation for Historic Hollidaysburg conducts tours of the historic district. Hollidaysburg holds annual spring and fall festivals, and just outside of Hollidaysburg is a large amusement park called Lakemont Park where the annual Keystone Country Crafts Festival is held. Lakemont also offers amusements, swimming, paddle boating, fishing, ice skating, roller skating, and overnight camping. Nearby in Altoona is the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, and just west is Horseshoe Curve National Historic Landmark.

  1. Van Huizen, Ann (team captain). et. al., Juniata River Corridor Reconnaissance Survey, 1991, National Park Service, Washington D.C.
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