The Selinsgrove Area School District occupies a total land area of 104.6 square miles in the eastern portion of Snyder County, along the Susquehanna River, just east of the geographic center of Pennsylvania, about equidistant from both Harrisburg and Williamsport.
Coextensive with the boroughs of Selinsgrove, Shamokin Dam, and Freeburg, and the townships of Monroe, Penn, Chapman, Jackson, Union, and Washington, Selinsgrove Area School District, with a population of approximately 20,000 and assessed real property of approximately forty-six million dollars, includes at least three-fifths of Snyder County’s population and taxable wealth. Monroe Township, which encircles Shamokin Dam borough, represents the Selinsgrove Area School District’s population and economic center.
The Selinsgrove Area School District is traversed by two heavily traveled east and west highways, namely U.S. Route 522 and Pennsylvania Route 35. Both of these highways lead into the Susquehanna Trail U.S. Route 11-15, a limited access highway which handles a north-south flow of traffic between Harrisburg and Williamsport.
The School District’s countryside is a succession of rolling hills and these hills form promontories from which the Susquehanna Valley may be viewed as a vast panorama of scenic beauty. Residents have access to several recreational opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, golfing, including Lake Augusta formed by the Fabridam located on the Susquehanna River at Shamokin Dam and the Susquehanna Valley Country Club. In Selinsgrove Borough a Parks and Recreation Committee oversees five playgrounds, Selinsgrove Area Recreation Incorporated operates a swimming pool and the Rotary Club of Selinsgrove maintains the Rotary Field with play fields for soccer, softball, and baseball.
Selinsgrove, which is situated at the confluence of Penns Creek and the Susquehanna River, was an important trading post in early colonial times. After the canal along the river was put into operation, Port Trevorton, Selinsgrove, Hummels Wharf and Shamokin Dam became places from which trade emanated throughout the region. A railroad bridge spanning the river at Port Trevorton brought a steady stream of coal from the coal fields in Northumberland County.
The river trade plus the rich farm lands bordering the river proved to be an incentive encouraging a hardy stock of early settlers to come into the region. These immigrants were largely Germans coming from the Palatinate, and thus the area has a strong flavor of German and Dutch culture. Their interest has usually centered in what is practical and contributes to the good life.
Likewise in the region, there was an early establishment of the Freeburg Academy and the Moyer School of Music, both of which attracted students from the entire state. These institutions flourished during the later half of the nineteenth century and were replaced by the public high school. Further evidence of a desire for education can be seen in the establishment of the Susquehanna Missionary Institute, which later became Susquehanna University.
The population in the region since early colonial times has remained a people who are predominately of Pennsylvania Dutch extraction. Industrial and commercial expansion has brought an increasing percentage of people who are of different cultural backgrounds, thus, creating a change to the cultural patterns of the community. The social structure of the community is largely lower middle class with a sprinkling of upper middle class. The lower middle class would be the blue collar workers and these would be the majority. The business and professional people would probably fall into the upper middle class category and area relatively small group.
The strong Pennsylvania Dutch heritage will continue to be a part of the local community tradition but it is slowly losing its preeminence as people from other areas of the state move to the expanding residential community.