The city of Lock Haven is the county seat of Clinton County, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Located near the Confluence of the West Branch Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Creek, it is the principal city of the Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, micropolitan statistical area, itself part of the Williamsport–Lock Haven combined statistical area. At the 2010 census, Lock Haven's population was 9,772. Built on a site long favored by pre-European peoples, Lock Haven began in 1833 as a timber town and a haven for loggers, boatmen, and other travelers on the river or the West Branch Canal.
Resource extraction and efficient transportation financed much of the city's growth through the end of the 19th century. In the 20th century, a light-aircraft factory, a college, and a paper mill, along with many smaller enterprises, drove the economy. Frequent floods, especially in 1972, damaged local industry and led to a high rate of unemployment in the 1980s. The city has three sites on the National Register of Historic Places—Memorial Park Site, a significant pre-European archaeological find; Heisey House, a Victorian-era museum; and Water Street District, an area with a mix of 19th- and 20th-century architecture. A levee, completed in 1995, protects the city from further flooding. While industry remains important to the city, about a third of Lock Haven's workforce is employed in education, health care, or social services.
Lock Haven's economy, from the city's founding in 1833 until the end of the 19th century, depended heavily on natural resources, particularly timber, and on cheap transportation to eastern markets. Loggers used the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Creek to float timber to sawmills in Lock Haven and nearby towns. The West Branch Canal, reaching the city in 1834, connected to large markets downstream, and shorter canals along Bald Eagle Creek added other connections. In 1859, the first railroad arrived in Lock Haven, spurring trade and economic growth.
By 1900, the lumber industry had declined, and the city's economic base rested on other industries, including a furniture factory, a paper mill, a fire brick plant, and a silk mill. In 1938, the Piper Aircraft Corporation, maker of the Piper Cub and other light aircraft, moved its production plant to Lock Haven. It remained one of the city's biggest employers until the 1980s, when, after major flood damage and losses related to Hurricane Agnes in 1972, it moved to Florida. The loss of Piper Aircraft contributed to an unemployment rate of more than 20% in Lock Haven in the early 1980s, though the rate had declined to about 9% by 2000. Another large plant, the paper mill that had operated since the 1880s in Castanea Township, closed in 2001. By 2005, 32% of the city's labor force was employed in health care, education, or social services, 16% in manufacturing, 14% in retail trade, 13% in arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services, and smaller fractions in other sectors. The city's biggest employers, Lock Haven University Of Pennsylvania and Lock Haven Hospital, are among the seven biggest employers in Clinton County.
A large brick building of irregular polygonal shape rests amid a green lawn with ornamental shrubbery by a curving paved driveway. An ornamental lamp post rises above the driveway, and a United States flag rises on a pole near the building and opposite the lamp post. The building's bell tower rests on a two-story base fitted with elaborate arched windows. The Keystone Central School District serves most of Clinton County, including Lock Haven, as well as parts of Centre County and Potter County. The district's administration building is in Lock Haven as are three of the district's elementary schools, Dickey Elementary, Robb Elementary, and Woodward Elementary, all for children enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade. The total enrollment of these three schools combined in 2002–03 was 790. Central Mountain Middle School in Mill Hall is the nearest public middle school, for grades six to eight. The nearest public high school, grades nine to twelve, is Central Mountain High School, also in Mill Hall. The city has two private schools, Lock Haven Christian School, with about 80 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and Lock Haven Catholic Elementary School, with about 190 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, offering a wide range of undergraduate studies as well as continuing-education and graduate-school programs at its main campus, occupies 175 acres (71 ha) on the west edge of the city. Enrollment at this campus was about 4,400 in 2003.
Parks and recreation:
Leaves are turning red on trees in a park graced with a covered picnic shelter on a wide green lawn. Homes are visible on the far side of the park. The city has 14 municipal parks and playgrounds ranging in size from the 0.75-acre (0.30 ha) Triangle Park in downtown to the 80-acre (32 ha) Douglas H. Peddie Memorial Park along Route 120. Fields maintained by the city accommodate baseball for the Pony League, Little League, and Junior League and softball for the Youth Girls League and for adults. In 1948, a team from the city won the Little League World Series. Hanna Park includes tennis courts, and Hoberman Park includes a skate park. The Lock Haven City Beach, on the Susquehanna River, offers water access, a sand beach, and a bath house. In conjunction with the school district, the city sponsors a summer recreation program. A 25-mile (40 km) trail hike and run, the Bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect, takes place annually near Lock Haven. The local branch of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) offers a wide variety of recreational programs to members, and the Clinton Country Club maintains a private 18-hole golf course in Mill Hall.