Emmitsburg was the site the Union had originally fortified to stop the Confederate invasion of the North in June 1863. Half the town was burned to the ground in a mysterious fire on the night of June 23. Folklore has it that 'The Great Fire', as it was known, was started by a Union sympathizer to prevent advancing Confederates from taking supplies from the town. However fate spared the town a battle - which took place 12 miles north of it in the adjoining town of Gettysburg. The town was briefly held by the retreating Confederates on July 4th.
Emmitsburg's population was 2,290 at the 2000 census. It is the home of Mount St. Mary's University. The National Emergency Training Center is also located in Emmitsburg on the former campus of St. Joseph's College.
The current mayor of Emmitsburg is James E. "Jim" Hoover. The town's newspaper is The Emmitsburg Dispatch.
There were 811 households out of which 38.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.2% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families. 26.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the town the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 16.6% from 45 to 64, and 20.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 76.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 70.0 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $38,710, and the median income for a family was $46,328. Males had a median income of $32,578 versus $23,235 for females. The per capita income for the town was $16,216. About 4.2% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 44.4% of those age 65 or over.