Smethport, Pennsylvania
McKean County Courthouse
McKean County Courthouse
Location of Smethport in McKean County, Pennsylvania.
Location of Smethport in McKean County, Pennsylvania.
Coordinates: 41°49′N 78°27′W / 41.817°N 78.450°W / 41.817; -78.450
CountryUnited States
 • TypeBorough council
 • MayorWayne V. Foltz
 • Total1.69 sq mi (4.36 km2)
 • Land1.63 sq mi (4.21 km2)
 • Water0.06 sq mi (0.15 km2)
 • Total1,430 Decrease
 • Estimate 
 • Density941.54/sq mi (363.54/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Zip code
Area code814
FIPS code42-71248
WebsiteBorough of Smethport

Smethport is a borough in and county seat of McKean County, Pennsylvania, United States. The mayor is Wayne V. Foltz. The population was 1,430 at the 2020 census.[2] Smethport is part of the Bradford, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area. Smethport, having the coldest temperature ever recorded in Pennsylvania, is the coldest place in Pennsylvania and one of the coldest towns in the contiguous United States.


Smethport is situated in the Pennsylvania Wilds region, in a hilly area a short distance from the Allegheny National Forest and Kinzua Bridge State Park. Smethport is about two hours from Erie and Buffalo. The highest point on U.S. Route 6 east of the Mississippi River is near Smethport at Bush Hill.

Smethport was founded in 1807 by Dutch land investors who were surveying a large tract of land they purchased from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and was named in honor of a Dutch banking family, the De Smeths, who financed the land investments. The town's first business was a water-powered sawmill built by John Applebee in 1822. Smethport became the McKean County seat in 1826 and was incorporated as a Borough in 1853. The sawmill's artificial pond is now the centerpiece of Hamlin Park. Smethport has ties to General Thomas L. Kane[citation needed] who organized the Bucktail Regiment during the Civil War; the borough is home to an active group of Bucktail re-enactors.

The borough has been the location of offices for several forest industry firms. From the 1870s to the early 1900s, Smethport was an important center for the East Coast hardwoods industry and enjoyed a timber-fueled economic boom that allowed the construction of many mansions that today make up a historic architectural district.

The first magnetic toys in the country were invented in Smethport in 1908. The Wooly Willy toy, a hit in the 1950s and still in production, was created in Smethport by Donald and James Herzog of the Smethport Specialty Company. In 2004 Smethport was selected as Pennsylvania's first Route 6 Heritage Community, as a part of a heritage tourism development program.


Smethport is located at 41°49′N 78°27′W / 41.817°N 78.450°W / 41.817; -78.450 (41.8099, -78.4449).[3]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2), of which 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2) of it is land and 0.60% is water.

Smethport is at high altitude, namely 1,488 feet (454 m) above sea level, and near Prospect Hill, the summit of which is the highest point in McKean County, rising above sea level 2,495 feet (760 m).


This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Smethport has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[4]

The lowest temperature ever recorded in Pennsylvania, −42 °F (−41 °C), was at Smethport on January 5, 1904.[5] Smethport is tied with Lawrenceville for the state February record minimum temperature of −39 °F (−39 °C)[citation needed].

The central Appalachian region has experienced some of the largest rainfall accumulations in the world at time intervals less than 6 hours, including the 18 July 1942 Smethport, Pennsylvania, storm that produced 780 mm (30.7 inches) in less than 5 hours.[6]


Historical population
2021 (est.)1,412[2]−1.3%

As of the census[8] of 2010, there were 1,655 people, 718 households, and 470 families residing in the borough. The population density was 1,009.5 inhabitants per square mile (389.8/km2). There were 801 housing units at an average density of 443.0 per square mile (171.0/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 99.05% White, 0.00% African American, 0.00% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 0.12% from other races, and 0.18% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.59% of the population.

There were 686 households, out of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.8% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.4% were non-families. 29.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the borough the population was spread out, with 26.0% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 86.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.2 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $34,934, and the median income for a family was $42,153. Males had a median income of $30,962 versus $22,159 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $17,297. About 7.6% of families and 8.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.4% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.

Notable businesses

Smethport Specialty Company, which manufactured Wooly Willy and other magnetic toys. (Sold to Patch Products, August 2008. Plant shut down February 2014.[10])

America's First Christmas Store, opened in 1935 and was the nation's first year-round yuletide shop. (closed 2005)

Hamlin Bank and Trust Company, a community bank founded by Henry Hamlin in 1863. "Hamlin Bank"

Chef Specialties Company, founded in 1940, is America's first manufacturer and purveyor of pepper and spice mills. "Chef Specialties"

Backus Company, a precision metal stamping manufacturer, founded in 1906.


Smethport is served by the Smethport Area School District. It operates one elementary school and one high school.


Smethport is the location of one of the largest, documented short duration storms in world history.[11]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Bureau, US Census. "City and Town Population Totals: 2020-2021". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  4. ^ Climate Summary for Smethport, Pennsylvania
  5. ^ "Record Lowest Temperatures by State" (PDF). NOAA National Climatic Data Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-22. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  6. ^ Smith, James A.; Baeck, Mary Lynn; Ntelekos, Alexandros A.; Villarini, Gabriele; Steiner, Matthias (April 2011). "Extreme rainfall and flooding from orographic thunderstorms in the central Appalachians". Water Resources Research. 47 (4). doi:10.1029/2010wr010190. ISSN 0043-1397.
  7. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  8. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  9. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Patch Products shutting down Smethport facility".
  11. ^ Wood, Anthony R. "Not Texas, but 28.5 inches of rain once fell in just 3 hours … in Pa". Retrieved 2022-06-28.