Pennsylvania 5th District
North central Pennsylvania, isolated from the rest of the country by mountains and off the main east-west rail and highway lines until the 1970s, is one of those empty spaces that make even the northeastern states seem lightly populated compared to the densely packed terrain of Western Europe or East Asia. Forest County has the highest percentage of second homes or cottages of any county in the nation. Pressed tightly by narrow valleys and fast-flowing rivers, roads here are often forced to switch back as they wind their way precariously over the mountains. Tioga County is home to Pine Creek Gorge, known as “Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon.” This part of the state is a prime area for hunting—225 black bears were shot in Clinton County in 2006—fishing and snowmobiling. There are wide open spaces like the Allegheny National Forest, which sprawls across four counties and is a popular recreational area. Neatly-preserved Ridgway, just outside the Allegheny National Forest, holds the largest chainsaw carving event in the world. Elk County and the Elk State Forest feature a free-roaming herd of elk, of course, but also are home to a new trout hatchery.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Titusville is where Col. Edwin Drake sank the first successful oil well in 1859, and Oil City was the headquarters of Quaker State Oil from 1931 until it left for Texas in 1995. The last oil and natural gas wells were capped here in 1964. DuBois in Clearfield County is home to glass production and a powdered metal industry. In Bradford, Zippo manufactures lighters. Punxsutawney in Jefferson County is home of the legendary groundhog Phil, who predicts the arrival of spring every year based on whether he sees his shadow on Gobbler's Knob on Feb. 2. The 1993 movie Groundhog Day sparked a tourism boomlet in this town of 6,000, even though the movie was filmed in Woodstock, Ill. To the southeast is the Nittany Valley, home of State College and Pennsylvania State University. Penn State has long been known for its powerful football teams coached by iconic Joe Paterno (“JoePa,” locally), and the university’s cutting-edge facilities have spawned a high-skills job market. Interstate 80 makes this part of Pennsylvania accessible to big markets, and there has been some modest population growth since 1990.
The 5th Congressional District of Pennsylvania is the state’s most rural and its largest in land area, taking in an enormous swath of north central Pennsylvania. It’s one of the largest districts east of the Mississippi River. Politically, this area became Republican in the 1850s when the party was founded, and it has remained heavily Republican since. In 2004, President George W. Bush won 61% of the vote here, and in 2008, GOP nominee John McCain did not do as well, but still won with 55%.