Bradford County is located in the Endless Mountains Region of Pennsylvania. The County and surrounding region has a long history of extractive industries such as coal, lumber, and hard rock mining that is well documented and remembered (Davies 1985; Conklin 1944). Many landowner families came to the area to participate in such industries in the 1800’s and some still tell stories about the mines and the camps and their relatives who labored in them. This history and the stories of lumber camps and mining ghost towns reveals important facets of the local cultural narrative relating people to the land and water resources of Bradford County.
But in 2009, the year I began conducting ethnographic field work in the County, coal and lumber were no longer the employment engine of the region. Those industries had been replaced by manufacturing and processing plants owned by international corporations such as DuPont, Global Tungsten Powders (formerly Sylvania), Lockheed-Martin, Ingersoll-Rand, Craftmaster, Procter and Gambel, and Cargill. These corporations, along with the Robert Packer and Guthrie Clinic Regional Hospital complex, had been the largest employers in Bradford County.
County revenues were another matter, however. In 2009 and ever since the coal bust in the 1930’s, agricultural revenue had been the leading source of money filling the County’s coffers. According to County officials, there were approximately $150 million in cash receipts from farming in 2010. In 2007 there were 1,457 farms, 297 of those dairy, all on approximately 267,000 acres (USDA Census of Agriculture).
Conklin, Howard E. 1944. The rural-urban economy of the Elmira-Corning Region. The Journal of Land and Public Utility Economics 20(1):3-19.
Davies, Edward J. 1985. The anthracite aristocracy: Leadership and social change in the hard coal regions of northeastern Pennsylvania, 1800-1930. Dekalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press.