Pennsylvania: Washington County

Washington County (pop. 207,820) is south of Beaver County, just southwest of Pittsburgh, on the border with Ohio. It’s one of the 30 counties (and one borough) named for George Washington.

The county seat of Washington County is the city of Washington (pop. 13,663), which had a population of 26,280 in 1950. It’s often known as “Little Washington,” to distinguish it from Washington, D.C.

Washington County Courthouse (1900)

Washington is the home of Washington and Jefferson College (1781), a private liberal-arts college with about 1,500 students.

Old Main (1834)

PONY Baseball and Softball started in Washington in 1951 and is still headquartered there. PONY, a nationwide program for youth sports, stands for “Protect Our Nation’s Youth.” (The “N” was originally “Neighborhood.”)

The Whiskey Rebellion, a tax protest in 1791-94, was centered in the Washington area.

Statue in Washington

Football great Joe Montana was born in Washington County and was a basketball and football star at Ringgold High School.

The borough of California (pop. 6,795) is the home of California University of Pennsylvania (1852), a public university with about 9,000 students. California was named for the Territory of California at the time of the 1849 Gold Rush.

The borough of Canonsburg (pop. 8,992) was the childhood home of singers Perry Como (child of Italian immigrants, 1912-2001) and Bobby Vinton (of Polish and Lithuanian descent, born 1935).

The McDonald’s restaurant in Canonsburg has statues and exhibits featuring both Como and Vinton.

The community of Donora (pop. 4,781) was the birthplace of baseball greats Stanislaw Franciszek “Stan the Man” Musial (in 1920), Ken Griffey Sr. (in 1950), and Ken Griffey Jr. (in 1969).

The Donora Smog was an air inversion in 1948 that killed 20 people and sickened 7,000 in Donora – then the site of U.S. Steel’s Donora Zinc Works and American Steel and Wire plant.

The museum opened in 2008.

Washington County has two dozen 19th-century covered bridges, and an annual festival to celebrate them.


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