Forty Fort, Pennsylvania
Forty Fort Borough Hall
Location of Forty Fort in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
|• Type||Borough Council|
|• Total||1.57 sq mi (4.08 km2)|
|• Land||1.31 sq mi (3.40 km2)|
|• Water||0.26 sq mi (0.68 km2)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||3,127.95/sq mi (1,207.58/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
Forty Fort is a borough in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 4,214 at the 2010 census. Its neighbors are Wyoming (to the north), Plains Township (to the east), Kingston (to the south), and Swoyersville (to the west). The Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport and the Wyoming Seminary Lower School are both located in the borough.
In the late 1770s, forty settlers from Westmoreland County, Connecticut, established a fortress along the Susquehanna River in the area now known as Forty Fort Borough. During the American Revolutionary War, both Connecticut and Pennsylvania claimed this territory, as Connecticut laid claim to a wide swath of land to its west based on its colonial charter. These competing claims were settled by exchanges and agreements with resolution by the national government after the United States gained independence.
During the Revolutionary War, British forces arrived in the Wyoming Valley on June 30, 1778. The next day, Colonel Butler sent a surrender demand to the militia at Fort Wintermute. Terms were arranged that the defenders, after surrendering the fort with all their arms, would be released on the condition that they would not again bear arms during the war. On July 3, however, the British saw that the defenders were gathering in great numbers outside of Forty Fort. This led to the Battle of Wyoming.
The next morning, July 4, Colonel Nathan Denison agreed to surrender Forty Fort and two other posts, along with what remained of his militia. Butler paroled them on their promise to take no part in further hostilities. Non-combatants were spared and only a few inhabitants were molested after the forts capitulated. In 1900, a large stone was placed at the end of Fort Street, in Forty Fort Borough, by the Daughters of the American Revolution to mark the approximate location of Forty Fort.
In the years following the Revolutionary War, Forty Fort became home to both the Nathan Denison House (built around 1790) and the Forty Fort Meetinghouse (built in 1806–08), which is located in the borough's cemetery. Forty Fort was officially incorporated as a borough in 1887. The borough later became home to the Lower School of the Wyoming Seminary and a portion of the southern end of the Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport.
In June 1972, Hurricane Agnes caused the Susquehanna River to overflow its banks. In Forty Fort, a portion of the levee protecting the town broke. This caused millions of dollars in damage to Forty Fort and the surrounding communities. In addition to structural damage, the Forty Fort Cemetery was heavily affected when over 2,000 caskets were washed away. Recovered bodies were eventually buried in a mass grave with a monument marking the 1972 flood's damage. In September 2011, the borough’s levee system was once again put to the test when Tropical Storm Lee caused severe flooding throughout the Wyoming Valley. However, this time the levee held and the town was preserved from the catastrophe it witnessed in 1972.
US 11 in Forty Fort (circa 1940)
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2), of which 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.7 km2) of it, or 16.58%, is water. Forty Fort hugs the western bank of the Susquehanna River just north of Wilkes-Barre. Its neighbors are Wyoming (to the north), Plains Township (to the east), Kingston (to the south), and Swoyersville (to the west). Forty Fort is built on a floodplain and is protected by a levee system. In the 1972 flood, the levee broke and the neighboring Susquehanna River flooded much of the town. During the 2011 flood, the levee system was once again put to the test. However, this time it held and the borough was preserved.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,579 people, 1,989 households, and 1,261 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,418.3 people per square mile (1,319.4/km2). There were 2,098 housing units at an average density of 1,566.2 per square mile (604.5/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 98.47% White, 0.50% African American, 0.07% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 0.17% from other races, and 0.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.52% of the population.
There were 1,989 households, out of which 25.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.6% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the borough the population was spread out, with 20.5% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.9 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $40,306, and the median income for a family was $50,667. Males had a median income of $36,696 versus $29,199 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $20,558. About 5.4% of families and 6.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.7% of those under age 18 and 3.2% of those age 65 or over.
Forty Fort has a mayor/council form of government. The borough's council consists of seven elected members. Elections are split every two years (where almost half the council is up for election). At first, the mayor and three council seats are up for election. Two years later, the other four council seats are up for election. This cycle repeats itself. The council acts as the legislative branch, which is the most powerful branch of the Forty Fort government.
The mayor is elected at-large to a four-year term. He or she is primarily responsible for the public safety of the borough. One function of the office is to serve as spokesperson for the community and to represent the borough at various civic and social events. The mayor also reviews each ordinance enacted by the borough council; he or she can sign it, veto it, or permit it to become law without signature. The mayor also has the authority to break a tie vote on borough council. Other various functions of the office include performing wedding ceremonies and administering oaths.
The current mayor is Andy Tuzinski. In 2000, he was elected to borough council and served two terms. He also served as the president of the borough council from 2000 to 2005. He was elected mayor in 2013 and assumed office in 2014.
Forty Fort is part of the Wyoming Valley West School District. There are three schools located in Forty Fort:
- Dana Street Elementary Center, a public elementary school, part of the Wyoming Valley West School District
- Wyoming Seminary Lower School, a private school suited for pre-K to 8th grade
- Apple Tree Nursery and Primary School, a private school
U.S. Route 11 (Wyoming Avenue) runs from Wyoming, through Forty Fort, and into Kingston. PA 309 runs through the southern end of Forty Fort. The borough is also home to the southern edge of the Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley Airport, a public facility serving mainly general aviation aircraft. The rest of the airport is located in Wyoming.
- "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Mar 24, 2019.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Forty Fort borough, Pennsylvania". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
- Moyer, Armond; Moyer, Winifred (1958). The origins of unusual place-names. Keystone Pub. Associates. p. 52.
- Graymont, p. 172
- Pearce, Annals of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1860)
- Smith, History of Wyoming Valley (Kingston, Pa., 1906)
- "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Forty Fort borough, Pennsylvania". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
- "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 26 April 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Forty Fort Mayor". Forty Fort Borough.