According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 2.0 square miles (5.2 km²), all of it land.
There were 4,023 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.3% were non-families. 38.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.87.
In the borough the population was spread out with 23.1% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 19.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 83.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.2 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $21,568, and the median income for a family was $30,606. Males had a median income of $26,812 versus $19,523 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $14,733. About 16.4% of families and 21.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.6% of those under age 18 and 16.8% of those age 65 or over.
During the late 19th century Mifflin County became the crossroads of the Commonwealth. Located near the geographic center of the state, the area became a hub for traffic moving in every direction.
Early roads crisscrossed the region, but it was the eventual construction of the Pennsylvania Canal and the railroads that followed that truly positioned Mifflin County as an economic force in the state.
Lewistown, as the major city in Mifflin County saw its economy expand dramatically as entrepreneurs launched companies to construct canal boats or build inns offering lodging for travelers and workers.
At its zenith, Mifflin County was one of the busiest centers for cargo and passenger traffic in the United States. But with the demise of the canal system, Mifflin County eventually lost its place as a major transportation hub.
One June 19, Agnes made initial landfall along the Florida Panhandle as a weak Category 1 Hurricane. Agnes then proceeded through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina before she moved back over the Atlantic off the North Carolina coast on June 21.
After regaining strength over the Atlantic, she made landfall again over southeastern New York on June 22 and moved westward in an arc over southern New York into north-central Pennsylvania. She became nearly stationary over Pennsylvania by morning of June 23, but was soon absorbed by a low-pressure system that slowly drifted northeastward from Pennsylvania into New York.
Rainfall from storm over the Mid-Atlantic region ranged from 2-3 inches in the extreme upper basins of the Potomac and North Branch Susquehanna Rivers to near Shamokin, Pennsylvania, in the Main Stem Susquehanna River basin. An average of 6-10 inches of rain fell over the Mid-Atlantic region. The soil, already well watered by spring rains, could not absorb so much water so quickly.
While flooding from the Juniata River was somewhat controlled due to a dam at Raystown Lake, west of Lewistown, the county experienced extensive flooding from the river and major streams which resulted in the permanent closure of many businesses along the river. Most notably, the flood submerged much of the American Viscose Plant, then a division of FMC Corporation. The facility, located on the banks of the Juniata River across from Lewistown proper, manaufactured rayon fiber (primarily for rayon-belted automobile tires), polyester and Avistrap.
FMC was one of two major employers in the area at the time, the other being the Standard Steel Works. The "Viscose" plant was only marginally profitable before the storm and the cost to reopen was prohibitive. (Ironically, the demand for rayon fabric for trendy clothing shot upward only a few years later.) Rayon production, and with it, thousands of good-paying jobs, moved to another FMC plant in Front Royal, Virginia. The Lewistown poleyster plant reopened, but it rehired only a fraction of the previous workforce. The site eventually became the Mifflin County Industrial Plaza and a variety of businesses have come and gone since then.
Lewistown is home to the Pennsylvania State Fire School, which is the only such facility in the state. Firefighting in Lewistown is very important, as volunteer firefighters have strong allegiance to the multiple independent fire companies in the borough that they devote their time to.
Today Lewistown is still looking to rebuild, but is now overshadowed by nearby State College. Due to the growth of Penn State and the construction of a new highway system, Lewistown is now struggling to avoid becoming the last rest stop for travelers coming from the east on their way to State College.
Lewistown Area High School, nicknamed the Panthers, have excelled in Baseball and Basketball. Lewistown Area High competes in PIAA District 6, at the Class AAA level. The Panthers have recently won PIAA Championships in Baseball and Girls’ Basketball. In fact, in 1997 Lewistown Area High joined a very small list of Pennsylvania schools to have both their Girls’ and Boys’ basketball teams reach the state championship game in the same season. The Lady Panther basketball team has been consistently ranked among the Top 10 teams in the state. Lewistown has an excellent wrestling program, with the 2006 squad finishing 8th in the state.
In the 2007 baseball season, the Panthers finished the regular season with a 9-9 record. The Panthers went on to win 3 straight district playoff games to earn the 2007 district championship while defeating cross town rival Indian Valley in the process. The team went on to lose in the state quarterfinals to eventual AAA State Champion Punxsutawny.
Goose Day, is Lewistown's as well as Mifflin County's unique holiday. The county is reputed to be the only place in the United States where the medieval Michaelmas feast is still celebrated. Although its roots trace back as far as the fifth century, little is known about the holiday and still less is known about how geese came to be associated with the holiday.
Michaelmas is most often mentioned in novels of English country life. At least as far back as the 15th century, Michaelmas was one of the quarter-days on which landlords collected their quarterly rents from their tenants. The association of the goose to Michaelmas is traceable as far back as the reign of Edward IV of England (1442-1484). The holiday fell in the season when stubble (wild or greylag) geese were in their finest fettle, and tenants developed the custom of showing up at the landlord's house with the rent in hand, the lease in a pocket and a fine stubble goose under one arm, in hopes of having the lease renewed - and with good terms at that.
Roast goose became the traditional centerpiece of the Michaelmas dinner. And somehow the tradition developed that eating roast goose on Michaelmas would guarantee the diner good fortune in the coming year, and that he would be at least $1,000 richer by the end of 12 months. Some traditions also contend that one could predict the weather for the coming winter by the color of the breast meat of the Michaelmas goose.
Time shrouds the truth of how the Michaelmas tradition came to Mifflin County - where it's simply called "Goose Day." The most plausible story of how Goose Day came to Mifflin County harks back to the Michaelmas observance, and has the celebration coming to Mifflin County from nearby Union County.
There's no religious tradition associated with Goose Day as there was with Michaelmas in the distant past, when it was considered a day of obligation in the Catholic church. The late Ben Meyers, columnist for the local newspaper, The Lewistown Sentinel, was long a proponent of the day being capitalized on in the county. For many years it was an occasion for special fund-raiser dinners by churches and fire companies, but the celebration really got off the ground in Mifflin County in the early 1980s. The coordinated celebration has fallen by the wayside, but many Goose Day events are still held throughout the county - and many restaurants and organizations still find the goose is golden when they serve the dark-meat fowl on September 29. Other traditions include a 5K running race, a "Wild Goose Chase" treasure hunt, but most notably; the tradition of having a police officer "pull over" the first driver he sees with out-of-state license plates. The officer then tells the driver he has to "take him or her in", and then proceeds to treat the driver to a roast goose dinner, gifts from local business, and a key to the borough of Lewistown.
In 2005 YBMC, a young professionals organization, was organized. YBMC sponsored the first annual Mifflin County Goose Fest in September 2005. Goose Fest was a daylong fall festival that was based on the idea of Goose Day and used to promote the businesses and groups of Mifflin County. Festivities included a display of ceramic geese painted by local artists, food stands run by local restaurants, musical acts, arts and craft vendors, contests (hot dog eating and goose-calling) a martial arts display and a timeline of Mifflin County. As part of the official ceremony Mayor Joshua Henry and State Representative Kerry Benninghoff introduced "Goldie The Goose" the new mascot of radio station WKVA along with its creator and radio personality Jolene "Nikki" Reid. Goose Fest is now an annual event in Mifflin County.
Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center located in Lewistown provides post high school degrees in nursing, auto mechanics and electrical services and numerous other technology driven careers. As of February, 2006; there are plans to build a community college that would serve the area.
The Lewistown branch of the South Hills School of Business and Technology offers associates degrees and other certifications in various areas of business and technology.
The Penn State Learning Center in Lewistown offers credit and non-credit courses through Continuing Education and personal enrichment classes through Cooperative Extension.
Pa Department of Banking and Securities Warns Investors to Watch for Fraudulent Hurricane Sandy-Related Schemes
Nov 01, 2012; HARRISBURG, PA -- The following information was released by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking: Following the large-scale...