Borough Incorporated

Johnstown's corporate history dates from January 12, 1831, when the name Conemaugh Old Town was abandoned and the community was chartered as Conemaugh Borough. George Kern was elected the first burgess. Three years later another Act of Assembly changed the name to Johnstown Borough in honor of the founder.

The incorporation came at a time when Johnstown was enjoying its first prominence. The building of the Pennsylvania Canal System had made Johnstown one of the four most important towns on the cross-state route, and it began to benefit from the trade and commerce of the day.

The canal system extended from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. However, over the mountains between Johnstown and Hollidaysburg the water route was not feasible and the stretch was traversed by the Allegheny Portage Railroad. It was at the canal basin in Johnstown--near Railroad and Clinton Streets--that the canal and railroad met. It was here that boats and passengers transferred from water to rail, when going east, and from rail to water, when moving west. This made Johnstown the head of navigation for the canal's western division.

Canal transportation between Johnstown and Pittsburgh began in 1831. In 1834 the Allegheny Portage Railroad was completed and this final link opened the entire state-wide route. For the next 20 years Johnstown was a boat and rail center that gradually attracted new people, new wealth and new enterprise. By 1850 the population had reached 1,260.

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