Andrew Boggs, and his wife, Jane Johnston Boggs, purchased the land in the valley at the confluence of the Conemaugh, Loyalhanna, and Kiskiminetas Rivers. The land had been owned by Jane's brother, William Johnston who was the area's first leading producer of salt obtained from local salt wells. In 1816, Andrew Boggs divided the land into lot size plots, sold the plots to pioneer settlers, and named the settlement "Saltsburgh" in recognition of the prosperous salt industry.
The discovery of salt in the Conemaugh valley near the end of the 18th century is attributed to a Mrs. Deemer who noted the formation of salt crystals at the bottom of a kettle she used to boil water from a nearby stream. Following this discovery, the drilling of salt wells became an industry that required the drilling of deep wells to access the "salt water" trapped beneath the surface of the ground. During the early 1830's, the salt industry in the area peaked and approximately four million pounds of salt were produced.
On September 10, 1864, the first train came into Saltsburg by way of the high bridge over the Kiskiminetas River. The original track led to Saltsburg's first railroad station which still stands along Point Street and currently serves as the Borough's office building. Later, in 1882, the railroad track was relocated onto the canal bed, replacing and ending canal travel with faster trains with greater hauling capacity. A new railroad station was built along Washington Street adjacent to the relocated track. Today, neither that station nor the railroad tracks remain. Approximately 20 years after the 1936 flood, the Conemaugh Dam was built to prevent future flooding of the area and that necessitated the relocation of the railroad line to a location outside of Saltsburg.
Saltsburg was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 and has a designated downtown historic district, 1 of only 11 total in western Pennsylvania. The district includes over one hundred notable examples of Federal and Late Victorian styles of architecture. Most of these buildings were built between the 1830's and 1880's.
Photo from first Andrew Boggs Day 2019
The PA Mainline Canal was constructed in 1829 to shorten the time for transporting raw materials, manufactured goods, and passengers across Pennsylvania from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and back. The 104 mile Western Division of the Canal ran through the town of Saltsburg connecting Johnstown with Pittsburgh. For over thirty years, the use of the Canal contributed greatly to the success of the salt industry and to the overall growing prosperity of Saltsburg. Today, the Saltsburg Canal Park preserves the original canal pathway through the town and serves as the site of many community events including the Canal Days Celebration during the first weekend in June.
Saltsburg's first railroad station is now the site of Saltsburg's Borough's Office
Now, Saltsburg serves as an access point, or hub, for two popular hiking/biking trails: the West Penn Trail and the Westmoreland Heritage Trail. The 15-mile West Penn Trail follows the original path of the Pennsylvania Mainline Canal and the early Pennsylvania Railroad through Saltsburg, continuing along the Conemaugh River toward the nearby communities of White Station and Tunnelton and eventually leading to Conemaugh Dam and the outskirts of Blairsville. In the future, trail planners hope to extend the short portion of the trail leaving Saltsburg and going in the opposite direction along the Kiskiminetas River with the goal of reaching the towns of Avonmore and Apollo. This trail, recognized as a National Recreation Trail, is part of the Trans-Allegheny Trail System. It is also an important link on the Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Mainline Canal Greenway.
The Westmoreland Heritage Trail branches off from the West Penn Trail (WPT) taking users out of Saltsburg and Indiana County into Westmoreland County via a rehabilitated railroad bridge that crosses over the Conemaugh River, part of the natural county boundary line. Hikers and Bikers can extend their travels on this pleasant, level trail toward the local destinations of Slickville, Delmont, and Murrysville.
With the Conemaugh River and the Loyalhanna Creek converging into the Kiskiminetas River along the banks of Saltsburg borough, water recreation is becoming more popular. Kayak and Canoe rental businesses provide boats for those who enjoy riding the current downstream from Conemaugh Dam to Saltsburg and beyond. In addition, fishermen can cast their lines and engage in another type of outdoor recreation.
Stained glass by Saltsburg resident Joseph (Joe) Gozelynczyk