Pike County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of 2000[update], the population was 46,302. Its county seat is Milford. Pike County is considered the most western edge of the Greater New York area surrounding New York City. Pike County is the fastest-growing county in the state of Pennsylvania. It is also the only Pennsylvania county in the greater New York metropolitan area.
Pike County was named for General Zebulon Pike. It was created on March 26, 1814 from part of Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
The original inhabitants were the Leni Lenape, later known as the Delaware Indians. In 1694 Governor Benjamin Fletcher of the colony of New York sent Captain Arent Schuyler to investigate claims that the French were recruiting Indian allies for use against the English. In 1696, governor Fletcher authorized purchases of Indian land near the New York border by a number of citizens of Ulster County; their descendants became the first European settlers of Pike County.
Nicholas Depui was the first to settle in the area, in 1725. Thomas Quick moved to the area that would become Milford in 1733. Andrew Dingman, settled on the Deleware River at the future site of Dingmans Ferry in 1735. The early settlers got along well with the Indians; however, as settlement increased, land disputes arose. The infamous Walking Purchase of 1737 swindled the Indians out of more than half of present day Pike County, leading to violence.
Early in the next century, coal was discovered nearby in the area that would become Carbondale. This became especially significant when the British restricted export of British coal after the War of 1812, creating a fuel shortage in rapidly expanding New York City. To get the coal to New York, a gravity railroad from Carbondale to Honesdale was proposed, along with a canal from Honesdale to the Hudson River at Kingston. The canal proposal was approved by the state of New York in 1823. Work on the 108-mile (174 km) Delaware and Hudson Canal began in 1825 and was completed in 1828. The canal system which, terminated at the Hudson River near present day Kingston, New York, proved profitable. However, the barges had to cross the Delaware via a rope ferry across a “slackwater dam” that created bottlenecks in the canal traffic, and added greatly to the cost of transportation. John Roebling proposed continuing the canal over the river on a suspension bridge/aqueduct. Built in 1848, his innovative design required only three piers, where five would ordinarily have been required; this allowed ice floes and timber rafts to pass under with less damage to the bridge. Three other suspension aqueducts would subsequently be built for the canal. Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct is still standing, possibly the oldest suspension bridge in America; it has been named a National Historic Landmark.
For fifty-one years, coal flowed to New York City via the canal. But the development of railroads, which were faster, cheaper, and operated even when the canals were frozen, brought the end of the canal era. The New York and Erie Railroad supplanted the canal, and in 1898 it was abandoned.
In 1926, a hydroelectric plant was built by the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company on Wallenpaupack creek at the former village of Wilsonville, which now lies under Lake Wallenpaupack. A crew of 2,700 men worked for two years to complete the dam for the project at a cost of $1,026,000. This required the acquisition of nearly a hundred properties, and a number of farms, barns, and homes were razed or moved; 17 miles (27 km) of roads and telephone lines were relocated, and a cemetery was moved to make way for the project.
Between 1990 and 2000, Pike County was the fastest-growing county in Pennsylvania, growing by 65.2%; it grew an additional 16.9% between 2000 and 2004. The area has relatively low state and county taxes, affordable housing, and Interstate 80 and Interstate 84 provides rapid transportation to New York City’s northern suburbs.
Pennsylvania law provides for four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, rarer cases, towns. Below are listed the cities, boroughs and townships located in Pike County: