2021 Online Community Profile
Welcome to the
Juniata River Valley
Welcome to the
Juniata River Valley
Located in the heart of central Pennsylvania, the Juniata River Valley is comprised of Mifflin and Juniata Counties, and named for the river that flows through both of them. Our largest communities are Lewistown in Mifflin County, and Mifflintown in Juniata County. Altogether, the Juniata River Valley is home to nearly 71,000 people who are blessed to live in this beautiful region of the state. Our geography is defined by soaring ridges, fertile valleys and the gentle flow of the Juniata River. The region’s rich history surrounds and defines our communities. Our towns are filled with buildings that date back to the Victorian era and beyond. Stone homes and log cabins hint at the earliest days, when this area was the wild frontier. The first settlers used the river as a highway, but in time, a canal system was built to make river travel safer and easier. It brought prosperity to the river valley as industries sprang up, capitalizing on the region’s rich supplies of iron and timber. Towns like Mifflintown and Lewistown became bustling ports. In short order, railroads, which followed the same path, replaced the canals. Rail service continues to be an asset to the area, with both freight and passenger service passing through our two counties today.
The Juniata River Valley business community continues to grow, despite the challenges that 2020 has placed upon us. As the effects of the pandemic pass, we will once again continue adding jobs and opportunities for area residents.
As a business community, we have a lot to be proud of. Burnham is home to the nation’s oldest continuously operating steel mill, dating back to 1795, which is also North America’s only producer of forged steel wheels for railcars and locomotives. Based in Mifflintown, Empire Kosher is the nation’s largest kosher poultry producer. Our largest industrial powerhouse is First Quality Enterprises, Inc., whose Lewistown facility opened just over a decade ago. Not only an industry leader, they are an outstanding corporate citizen – known for their philanthropy. Hundreds of other local companies are industry leaders within their niche, including DuMor, Philips Ultrasound, Overhead Door, and Standard Steel, to name a few.
The area is known for its picturesque scenery. The Juniata River Valley is truly rural Pennsylvania at its best. Wide fertile valleys are home to a patchwork of working farms, small towns and a rich sense of community. Encompassing 809 square miles, the Juniata River Valley is home to a robust agriculture industry, with working farms ranging from large dairies that have been worked for over a century to small Amish family farms where the ground is tilled using horsepower in its original form.
We hope you enjoy reading this publication to discover more of what makes this region a great place to explore, put down roots, or grow a business. Both the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau are here to help, so please don’t hesitate to visit our offices in the historic courthouse on West Market Street or call 717-248-6713, if we may be of assistance.
We have all the parades, carnivals, and festivals you would expect to be held in a collection of small communities, but we also have concerts, and community movie nights to keep people of every age busy all year-round. We race everything – from remote-control cars, garden tractors and go-carts – all the way up to the thrills and excitement of the Port Royal Speedway – the best dirt track in the East. Seasonal celebrations are very popular: HarvestFest, Country Memories Day in McVeytown, the Juniata County Fair, Mifflin County Youth Fair, and Thompsontown Fall Fest are just a few of the events you’ll find happening here in the Juniata River Valley. Sale Day in Belleville draws thousands every Wednesday during nice weather. For a full listing of events, visit our website at www.juniatarivervalley.org.
After cancellation of the event in 2020, anticipation is building for the next Festival of Ice. Don’t miss the coolest event of the year as downtown Lewistown is transformed into a winter wonderland. Held the first Thursday and Friday after Thanksgiving, the festival features live music, local church choirs, food, wagon and pony rides, working train display (by the Mifflin County Model Railroad Club), a variety of vendors and family-friendly activities. Skilled craftsman chisel, sculpt, and torch slabs of ice into delightful artwork. The holiday season kicks-off with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, decorative displays, and the Chillin’ 4K Run/Walk. Saturday’s parade is sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club. The Festival of Ice is one of the area’s largest and most popular community events, so be sure not to miss it!