Geography of Frugal Living: Pennsylvania

Last summer, my brother, Tom, and I took a quick weekend trip to explore some small towns in hilly, west-central Pennsylvania, between Altoona and Johnstown. We focused on a triangle of small towns — Ebensburg, Cresson and Loretto — and mostly ignored the two small cities.

I would nominate all three towns for any list of “coolest small towns” in America. Ebensburg is the largest of the three, a picturesque county seat with a Wal-Mart on the outskirts. Wonderful, big old houses, and a nice miles-long walking and bike trail on the right-of-way of an abandoned railroad line.

Cresson is a bit smaller, a railroad town and birthplace of Robert E. Peary. It has a small college and wonderfully friendly people. There’s a great family restaurant at the stoplight in the center of town, and a bed-and-breakfast next to the railroad tracks. The bed-and-breakfast promises visitors they should see a minimum of one train per hour during their stay.

Loretto is really nothing more than a village. But what a village! Loretto has its own university (St. Francis University), a monastery with beautiful landscaping, and a cathedral. This part of Pennsylvania has lots of Catholics!

Now comes the following report from Tom on his latest small-town discovery in central Pennsylvania:

Re affordable places to live . . .

Last weekend, visited Huntingdon, Pa., population 6,800, about 30 miles south of State College, Pa. (The main campus of the University of Pennsylvania and home of  Nittany Lions football is at State College.)

Huntingdon was voted 5TH “coolest small town” in America in a recent poll by Budget Travel magazine.

I looked at a four-bedroom house in historic downtown area that seemed too good to be true. With a price of $90,000, this house was 2,000+ square feet, in great shape, with a large garage and small but nicely landscaped yard. The house was a short walk to stores and restaurants, public library, numerous churches, Amtrack train station, the Juniata River, etc.

Huntingdon is the county seat of Huntington County so there is the courthouse and municipal buildings as well. The town also is home to two colleges and a hospital.

It all looked so nice I’m planning to go back this weekend and explore some more. Have an appointment with a Realitor to look at a three-bedroom house listed at $70,000. I’ll give you an update if you like. Love the blog!  Tom

Thanks for the report, Tom. Maybe we should write a book about small towns. 

Please take some digital photos of Huntingdon and send them to me as attachments to an e-mail. Thanks.

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