Franklin, PA (population 7,200) is the county seat of Venango County. Venango is an Indian word for ‘Beautiful River Runs Through It’ and the Allegheny River which runs from Oil City to Franklin and then on down to Pittsburg, is certainly a beauty.
Franklin, also called the Victorian City, was an important French fort. A young British officer named George Washington was sent to the town in 1753 to warn the French that they were trespassing on land claimed by Great Britain.
Their downtown is one of the loveliest I’ve seen in my travels with all of its old two and three story brick buildings still intact and largely occupied on the main floor. Efforts are under way to redevelop the upper floors with apartments and condos, something that I view as critical to long term success in any downtown.
The community did a downtown study and blueprint on its future in 2004, revamping parking and beginning the redevelopment of upper floors. A 498 seat, early-1900s theater has been redone and the town puts on 7 festivals each year. The largest is the annual Applefest held the first weekend of October each year, with over 100,000 annual visitors to the town. Other festivals are Franklin on Ice (ice sculptures); May Garden Mart; 4th of July; Music Festival and Taste of Franklin; DeBence Antique Music World; Rock in River and Light-up Night. That first festival, Applefest, started 25 years ago as a pie baking contest and has grown ever since. The Rock in River Festival includes the PA Stone Skipping Competition. Last year’s winner, Russ Byers, set a Guinness Book of World’s Records last year with 51 skips!
The town also features noon concerts in the summer and a patio series of musical groups on Friday evenings.
Franklin is a wonderfully charming town with a bright future.