Pennsylvania: Lawrence County

Lawrence County (pop. 91,108) is south of Mercer County, on the border with Ohio. It’s one of 11 Lawrence counties, and one of the 10 named for naval officer James Lawrence (1781-1813).

Lawrence County in 1911

The county seat of Lawrence County is the city of New Castle (pop. 23,128). New Castle reached its peak population of 48,834 in 1950.

Lawrence County Courthouse (1855)

New Castle has been known as “The Hot Dog Capital of the World” and “The Fireworks Capital of America.” The city’s Coney Island hot dog business was founded in the 1920s by Greek immigrants.

The fireworks industry in New Castle also dates from the early 20th century, and the city is still headquarters of the fireworks company Pyrotecnico.

The Scottish Rite Cathedral (1925) in New Castle, with 2,800 seats, has been used as a Masonic meeting place, movie theater, and concert hall. It currently hosts a variety of special events.

Football coach Mark Mangino was born in New Castle in 1956 and grew up there. He has been head coach at the University of Kansas and an assistant coach at Iowa State.

As a Jayhawk

The State Theater in New Castle is the home of the New Castle Playhouse.

The borough of New Wilmington (pop. 2,466) is the home of Westminster College, a liberal arts college founded in 1852, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

About 1,100 students

The borough of Ellwood City (pop. 7,921) is the home of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration (1967), the first English-language Orthodox monastery in North America.

The monastery was founded by Princess Ileana of Romania (1909-1991), a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and of Tsar Alexander II. She was abbess of the monastery until her retirement in 1981.



Indiana: Henry County

Henry County (pop. 49,462) is west of Wayne County. It’s one of nine Henry counties, and one of the eight named for American patriot Patrick Henry (1736-1799) of Virginia.

Henry County was the setting of Ross Lockridge, Jr.’s 1,000-page 1948 novel “Raintree County,” which is often listed among the best American novels of the 20th century.

The 1957 movie is very different.

The Henry County town of Straughn (pop. 222) is called “Waycross” in the book.

Straughn students in 1893

The county seat of Henry County is the city of New Castle (pop. 18,114). New Castle reached its peak population of 21,215 in 1970.

Henry County Courthouse (1869)

New Castle is the home of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, founded in 1962 in Indianapolis.

Moved to New Castle in 1990

The Fieldhouse at New Castle High School is the world’s largest high school gym, seating 9,325.

Built in 1955

Indiana basketball legend Steve Alford was born in New Castle in 1964 and starred at New Castle High School before playing his college ball at Indiana University. He’s now the head coach at UCLA.

1987 NCAA champions

The Steve Alford All-American Inn in New Castle has a giant sneaker in front.

Artist Robert Indiana was born (as Robert Clark) in New Castle in 1928. He was a leader in the pop art movement.

Eat/Die, 1962

In 1907, the Maxwell Auto Company built what was then the largest automobile factory in the world, in New Castle.

Later a Chrysler plant

Southwest of New Castle, the then-empty high school gymnasium in Knightstown (pop. 2,182) was used for many of the basketball scenes in the movie “Hoosiers” (1986). It’s now called Hoosier Gym.

Now available for tours

Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) was born in the unincorporated community of Millville. His brother Orville (1871-1948) was born in Dayton, Ohio.

Wilbur on right


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