Learn About Greene County, Pennsylvania
... Location, Geography & Municipalities
Contact Person: Elizabeth Menhart, Communications Director (724-627-8687) Office Hours: 8:30 a.m.4:30 p.m., MondayFriday
Greene County the Cornerstone of the Keystone State
Greene County's location and topographic features can be briefly stated; it is situated in the extreme southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, and is bounded on the north by Washington County, on the east by the Monongahela River which separates it from Fayette County, on the south by West Virginia, and the western extremity of the Mason and Dixon's line forming the dividing boundary, and on the west by West Virginia & Ohio, known as the Panhandle. Greene County is considered the cornerstone of the keystone state.
In a fast-paced world where communication is instantaneous, you can slow down a bit and relax in Greene County. In our many communities, as well as in our county seat of Waynesburg, folks pass you on the street and call you by name. Friends chat on the courthouse steps or at the local grocery store. But the high-speed connection to the world is alive and well here and can be accessed at a moment's notice. The best of both worlds can be found in our communities, with a small-town atmosphere and a sense of belonging to a community. We welcome visitors and newcomers with open arms and quickly become old friends.
Greene County has many historical communities such as downtown Waynesburg, Greensboro, Rices Landing, Jefferson, Carmichaels, our historic Jacktown Fair in Wind Ridge, and so many others. Our rural agriculture heritage makes Greene County a place like no other . . . with educational opportunities here in the county and in neighboring counties to offer our youth excellent opportunities.
Greene County is 89.2 percent rural; with a population of about 40,000+ residents. The county seat for Greene County is within the Borough of Waynesburg, located at exit 14 of Interstate 79, about 60 miles south of Pittsburgh. Click here for driving directions to Greene County.
Pennsylvania has 67 individual governmental units designated as counties. Counties are distinguished into different classes based on their population, ranging from the first class county of Philadelphia to eighth class counties like Cameron, Forest, Fulton, Montour, Potter and Sullivan. Greene County is designated as a sixth class county (population of 45,000 to 94,999; counties with a population of 35,000 to 44,999 can be sixth class if the board of commissioners passes an ordiance or resolution to do so.) Population changes could place a county in a different class following the decennial census. Before a county may officially change its class, however, a difference in population must appear in two consecutive censuses, and the governor must certify the change.
Greene County Physical Geography
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 578 square miles (1,497 km²), of which, 576 square miles (1,491 km²) of it is land and 2 square miles (5 km²) of it (0.36%) is water.
The watershed (click here to read more about our watershed program) which separates the waters of the Mon River from the Wheeling system, commences at a point on the Washington County line a little north and east (near the northern extremity of Morris Township), and pursues a southwesterly course cutting a small section of the eastern portion of Richhill Township, striking Jackson Township at a point near the intersection of Jackson and Center Townships.
The glacial ice cap did not reach Greene County but apparently caused a temporary damming of the northern flow of the Monongahela River creating a lake. Into this lake the contributing streams poured their clay and silt-laden waters. These alluvial sediments accumulated on the lake bottom to a thickness of 75-feet or more producing what was to become known in the geological literature as Carmichaels Formation.
Greene County is part of the Allegheny Plateau. Its elevation varies from about 500-feet to over 1,600-feet. There are numerous stream-cut valleys separated by rolling hills, ridges, and knobs that follow a northwest to southeast trend. There are many creeks and runs that makeup the Monongahela River watershed. These include the Ten Mile Creek, Muddy Creek, Whiteley Creek, and Dunkard Creek. Enslow's Creek, Fish Creek and Wheeling Creek flow westward.
It contains within these limits 389,120 square acres of surface, or about 608 square miles. The average length east to west is 32 miles and the width is about 19 miles. The terrain is hilly with the general trend of the hills from northwest to southwest. Many streams drain the slopes. The surface is drained by the Monongahela River, which unites with the Allegheny at Pittsburgh and forms the Ohio proper, and by the Wheeling River which also falls into the Ohio, and forms part of the great Mississippi.
After the northward retreat of the glacial ice cap, the lake again became the Monongahela River and the area became an attrative fertile valley. This valley undoubtedly helped draw the early settlers to the area, and to provide the sand and clay for the early glass and pottery industry.
Greene County Municipality History
County government as provided for in the county codes, may be described as a "no-executive" type. The chief governing body is the three-member board of county commissioners, but numerous other elected officials are, to a large extent, independent of the commissioners.
Unlike most other states, Pennsylvania's counties geographically overlap municipalities such as boroughs, townships and cities, but they provide a different set of services. Therefore, every Pennsylvanian is both a resident of their county and their city, borough or township at the same time.
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and towns. Greene County is made up of 26 municipalities (20 Townships and 6 Boroughs).
The largest municipality being Franklin Township with a population of 7,694 (2004 U.S. Consensus stat).
Click on any municipality from the map below for detailed information:
Townships are the oldest form of organized government in the United States, dating back to the 17th century. When the Pilgrims came to America from England, they brought the concept of townships with them, and by order of the Mayflower Compact, townships became the first political subdivision in the new world.
The 1899 legislation also was later amended to allow for a transition from second to first class township status, and these transition requirements remain the same today. To become a township of the first class, townships of the second class must have a population density of at least 300 people per square mile, and voters must approve the classification change in a referendum. However, many townships of the second class meeting the density requirement have chosen to maintain their form of government since there are few differences between the two classes of townships.
Even though townships now consist of more than 10 families, they are still governed by a few elected local residents who provide the functions necessary to protect the health and safety of the residents.
The governing body of Greene County Townships (second class townships) is composed of three supervisors who are elected at large. Two additional supervisors may be elected if approved by the voters in a referendum, and all are elected for six-year terms. Supervisors may also be employed by the municipality. Some townships have a professional manager or secretary who is hired by the board of supervisors to carry out the policies and enforce the ordinances of the board, relieving the board of routine administrative duties.
Boroughs Before the American Revolution, one borough was established in each of the three original counties. Since then, the number of boroughs has increased to 961, making them the second most common form of municipal government in Pennsylvania. Greene County has six (6) boroughs: Carmichaels, Clarksville, Jefferson, Rices Landing, and Waynesburg.
Unlike the state’s other municipalities, boroughs are not divided into classes. Borough government is described as the “weak mayor” system because the borough mayor has no power to hire employees or direct programs. He does, however, have the power to veto decisions of the borough council. And while the mayor is considered to be a “weak” executive, his responsibilities include executing and enforcing borough ordinances and regulations, representing the borough at community events and other functions, and taking charge of the police department if the borough has one. The mayor is elected for a four-year term.
The true governing body of a borough is an elected council, which normally consists of seven council members who are elected to serve four-year overlapping terms. Boroughs with a population of less than 3,000 may reduce the number of council members to three or five. The council elects one of its members as president to preside at meetings. In some boroughs, the chief administrative officer is a manager or secretary who is appointed by the council. As in townships, the manager or secretary is responsible for relieving the council of routine administrative tasks.
Greene County Timeline & Township Formation
Greene County was established when Washington County was divided into two Counties through an act of the Legislature. The southern portion became Greene County, named after General Nathanael Greene and consisted of 578 square miles. Waynesburg, the county seat, named for Major General Anthony Wayne, was laid out in 1796, and incorporated as a borough on January 29, 1816.
Colonel John Minor is considered the "Father of Greene County" because he sponsored the bill that made the division of Washington County a reality. Greene County originally consisted of five townships: Greene, Cumberland, Franklin, Morgan, and Richhill. Another division made in 1802 gave a small portion of the northwest corner of the newly formed Greene County back to Washington County. This area contained what had been designed as Finley Township.
The following chart shows the timeline for our 20 townships:
* These townships were formed after Washington County was formed in 1781.
Source of this township formation information was provided by Thomas (Tom) Headlee, Alvah J.W. Headlee, Dorothy T. Hennen, & Grace A. Glennen.
Also an assis from Crumrine's History of Washington County, PA and Caldwell's 1876 Greene County Atlas.
Carmichaels was laid out by James Carmichael, who was a scout and woodsman. He obtained the title of the land in a trade with Thomas Hughes who went to Jefferson. Carmichaels covered bridge which crosses Muddy Creek was built in 1889 and continues to be used today. Cumberland Village was built by the government during World War II to house industrial workers. The first post office in Carmichaels began operating in 1822. Prior to that time, the building was a private residence that was constructed between 1795-1804. Turkey Knob which is five miles south of Carmichaels was so named because of an abundance of wild turkeys and the area was an excellent hunting ground.
Rice's Landing occupies a narrow and level river terrace, precipitous hillslope, and level ridgetop adjacent to the Monongahela River in northeastern Greene County. Pumpkin Run, a deeply embedded tributary of the river, bisects the Rice's Landing Historic District which is composed of 63 buildings, five structures and four archaeological sites. This integrated community is dominated by vernacular buildings of one to two stories dating from the Mid-Victorian to Craftsman period. Through the small scale vernacular buildings, the preserved riverfront, and the geological setting, this district has retained its integrity as a river port from the mid-to-late 19th century and the railroad/coal era of the early 20th century.
Waynesburg is the county seat of Greene County, Pennsylvania, and located 60 miles (96 km) south by west of Pittsburgh. Waynesburg is home to Waynesburg University. Early in the twentieth century, four large gas compressing stations and a shovel factory were located in Waynesburg. In 1900, 2,544 people lived here, and in 1910, 3,545 residents were here. The population was 4,184 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Greene County GR6. it is named after General "Mad" Anthony Wayne who served with George Washington in the Revolutionary War.
Click here for details & additional information on each borough.
Plat Maps Source: 2011 Plat Book of Greene County, PA / Greene County Commissioners / Greene County 4-H Clubs / PennState Cooperative Extension / Farm & Home Publishers, LTD &
For general information, please contact the Information Services at 724-852-5399 / Toll Free: 1-888-852-5399 Greene County Office Building, 93 E. High Street, Waynesburg, PA 15370