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Athens Borough

Borough municipal offices are located at 2 South River Street, Athens PA 18810; phone 570-888-2120.

Athens [1] is the oldest plotted village in Northern Pennsylvania, that remains substantially as laid out (1786) by its founders. From the time of its discovery, thoughtful men regarded Athens as a favored point and believed in its destiny, especially as a future manufacturing and shipping point. It had been the Indians' "door" between the North and South, and the white man could see "the center," and he dreamed of a time when it would reach out its long arms of commerce that would be backed by great factories, supplying a needy world.

Athens had its inception from the establishment of Matthias Hollenback's trading-post in 1784 and the few adventurous home-seekers settling around him. Prior to 1801, letters addressed to "Tioga Point" were brought up the river in boats and left at Hollenback's store for distribution among the settlers, some of whom, came a distance of twenty miles to receive "the message from home." In 1801, a post office was established with William Prentice, post-master, who continued the office in Hollenback's store. The first post-route (1803) was from Wilkes-Barre to Tioga, the mail being carried by Charles Mowrey and Cyril Peck, on foot, once in two weeks.

Rural Amity, Lodge, No. 70, Free and Accepted. Masons, the oldest secret society in the county, was chartered July 6, 1796 and instituted May 21, 1798 at the house of George Welles at Tioga Point.

What were factors contributing to the growth and prosperity of Athens. In 1820 the-first river bridge in the county was built across the Chemung to the Point. By 1830 the village had reached that degree of importance that it asked for its own municipal government, and accordingly, by Act of Assembly, March 29, 1831, was incorporated as the borough of Athens. In 1840 the town had a population of 435. Its advantages were increased in 1841 by the building of a bridge across the Susquehanna. In 1850 the population had grown to 706. The North Branch Canal was opened in 1854 with a port and boat-yard at Athens; population 837 in 1860. In the meantime enterprises were being introduced, the Pennsylvania and New York railroad, with a station at Athens, was opened between Waverly and Towanda, in 1867, and between Waverly and Wilkes-Barre in 1869. The population in 1870 was 965. The bridge works was a flourishing institution, and in 1880 the population had multiplied to 1592. Other big enterprises followed the bridge works, which now employed 500 men and was manufacturing and constructing some of the greatest iron bridges in the world; in 1890, population 3274. The Athens-Sayre & Waverly Electric road was opened in 1894; the population was 3749 in 1930, 3796 in 1910 and 4384 in 1920. However, it must be remembered that the churches, good schools, banks and a generous public spirit were all contributory to the stability and up-building of Athens.

  1. Heverly, Clement F., History and Geography of Bradford County Pennsylvania, 1615-1924, Bradford County Historical Society, 1926, Towanda PA
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