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Lykens Township

Lykens Township administrative offices are located at 2073 East Middle Road, Lykens, PA 17048; phone: 717-365-3617.

Beginnings [1]

According to the Dauphin County Historical Atlas of 1865, Lykens Township was formed from a much larger Upper Paxton Township. Residents of the Upper Paxton Township petitioned the County Commissioners for a division of the Township. The court issued an order to inquire into the "propriety of granting the said prayer ... and to draft a plan of the division. The County Commissioners approved the proposed division.

In the early Lykens Township, farming and agriculture related activities dominated the use of land. These activities continue to dominate the landscape even today. However, around 1825, coal was discovered at the lower end of Short Mountain by Mr. Jacob Burd, Sr. and Mr. Peter Kimes while out on a walk. "One of them having a stick or cane in his hand, carelessly dug it into the ground when it revealed black dirt." (Dauphin County Historical Atlas, 1865) Curiosity apparently led to further digging to the point where coal began being mined and carried down from the mountain by wagon. The operations continued to expand and were operated by the Lykens Valley Coal Company. In April of 1830 a railroad was proposed and eventually constructed between Bear Gap and Millersburg for moving the coal.

In 1852, the Borough of Gratz was incorporated and became a separate municipality from the Township. Conveniently located near, the center of the Township, Gratz continues to have an intimate relationship with the Township. Much of the commercial activities that were located in early Gratz served, and today, continue to serve residents of the Borough and Lykens Township. Other community facilities such as the local Fire Company, park and recreations areas, and churches contribute to the ways of life for many residents of the Township.

Historically, Lykens Township has remained an agriculture community and has retained its general character over the years. The Map of Lykens Township from the Dauphin County Historical Atlas reveals that many of the roads have not changed. The open space and gentle rolling farmlands connected by a network of country roads appears almost identical to the Historical Atlas Map that has been included. Many of the original farmsteads, homes and structures that are scattered throughout the Township on the Historical map still spot the landscape and are currently being used as homes and farms. Collectively, they contribute to form a charming rural character and atmosphere throughout the Township.

  1. Lykens County Planning Commission and Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, Lykens Township Comprehensive Plan, 1992, www.pacounties.org, accessed June, 2015.
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