Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, (population 955) is a small town located in the Kiskiminetas-Conemaugh Valley and along the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Mainline Canal Greenway. From 1829-1865, Saltsburg was an important stop along the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal for the transportation of goods and passengers. In 1855, the Northwestern Pennsylvania Railroad opened a station in Saltsburg and replaced the canal. During the 19th century, both the canal and railroad facilitated the community’s growth. Saltsburg has a long history of supporting historic preservation projects, and many of those have included researching and restoring canal-era sites.

A great example of this type of project is North Park, a four-acre park that traces the canal. The city has done a great deal of landscaping and created signage, walkways, and a grassed area that outlines the former canal Lock No. 8. When the canal was being used, this lock helped vessels navigate an 8-foot drop as they traveled en route to Pittsburgh. This project has significantly increased trail, river, and heritage tourism in the community.

Another important project has been the historic W.R. McIlwain Store and Warehouse, a 157-year-old contributing structure in the nationally registered Saltsburg Historic District, which is known locally as the Mule Barn. Through a public-private partnership, the city is in the process of securing funds to stabilize the exterior walls and first floor support beams in preparation for rehabilitating the structure. In 2007, the Mule Barn was identified by the Young Preservationists’ Association of Pittsburgh as one of the “Top 10 Best Preservation Opportunities for the Pittsburgh Region.”

Saltsburg has two active volunteer-based historical organizations: the Saltsburg Area Historical Society and Historic Saltsburg, Inc. The society owns and operates the Rebecca B. Hadden Stone House Museum. The museum houses many collections that illustrate life in the canal days and exhibits that interpret the salt drilling, glass making, and boat building industries. They also have displays of Native American artifacts, dishware, furniture, and military, blacksmithing and shoemaking items. In addition to operating the museum, the society publishes newsletters detailing the community’s heritage and provides museum and community tours.

Historic Saltsburg, Inc. is a preservation group that protects the architectural heritage of the town and researches, writes, and documents the architectural integrity of the canal and historic structures. Their efforts have included proposing the establishment of a National Register Historic District, creating an annual Canal Day celebration, locating canal marker stones, and developing a self-guided walking tour of historic Saltsburg.

As a southern gateway to Indiana County, Saltsburg is also part of a growing regional Western Pennsylvania Trail network. In order to keep this area thriving, the community has partnered with the Indiana County Tourist Bureau, the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy, and the Allegheny Ridge Corporation to develop, restore, and interpret cultural resources in the region.

Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2008.

For more information

Saltsburg Area Historical Society