Named in honor of William Penn, Penn Township is situated in north central Lancaster County in south central Pennsylvania and is located approximately 10 miles north of Lancaster City.
The township has about 29.4 square miles with boundaries being Chiques Creek to the west, Cornwall Mountain to the north, and man-made boundaries to the east and south of the township. There are 62.77 miles of local roads in the township.
Geography & Economics
Penn Township is geographically and economically linked to the Lancaster urbanized area, however it has a strong secondary link with Lebanon County. PA Route 72 is the primary transportation link connecting the township with the Lancaster and Lebanon metropolitan areas. The 3,592 households (2020 Census) in the township have a median income of $69,128 (2020 Census) and an average annual consumer expenditure of $41,254. The 2019 median owner-occupied housing value is estimated at $212,700. An estimated total retail sales of $166,649,473 per year and total annual sales of $5,473,960,000 per year occur in the township (2016) through the 5,368 employees and the 399 businesses here.
The township’s 2020 US Census population is 10,210. Penn Township is the second fastest growing municipality in the county at 16.2 percent, from 8,789 in 2010. For more details about the demographics of Penn Township, view the US census Geography Profile https://data.census.gov/cedsci/profile?g=0600000US4207158840 .
Most of the land in present Penn Township was separated from a larger Warwick Township in 1846, making our township 175 years old in 2021. It also appears that some parts of a larger Rapho Township, mostly in the vicinity of Mount Hope, were annexed to Penn Township during the 19th century.
Most of the first settlers in the township were of Germanic and Swiss ancestry and began settling around 1735. These early settlers located along the foot of the Furnace Hills. They slowly extended their landholding southward toward what is now White Oak (settled in 1794).
Penryn, famous for the White Oak Church, the oldest town in the township, being founded in the 1730’s. Limerock, founded by Dr. J. C. Brobst in 1880, was originally established to take advantage of the abundant limestone found in the southeast corner of the township. At that time, the quarried limestone was shipped commercially via railroad to other parts of the country.
“Newport became a center of commerce in the early 19th century, as Conestoga wagons transported farm products from as far away as Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to Newport’s docks on the Christina River, where the supplies were loaded on ships bound for Boston, New York and Philadelphia” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newport,_Delaware]. Newport Road in Penn Township may have been named for this.
For more on Pioneers and Transportation on Newport Road see https://collections.lancasterhistory.org/media/library/docs/edit_vol36no3pp101_110.pdf .
Mount Hope was an early post town with a stagecoach stop. Mount Hope also contained the Mount Hope Chemical Charcoal Works. This important industry produced some of the earliest smelting of iron ore in Lancaster County. The Village of Elm, originally called Penn, was well known for the tavern established there. Molly Plasterer’s Tavern (located where the five roads converged) was a rendezvous for iron workers when the forges and furnaces were in full blast, and a headquarters for mountaineers.
Today, southern Penn Township is a growing suburban area abutting Manheim Borough is supported by public sewer and public water systems. The large northern section of the township remains primarily agricultural with woodlands and some interspersed villages and non-farm businesses. Overall the township is strongly influenced by its proximity to both Manheim and Lititz Boroughs, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and interchange at Route 72, as well as the Lancaster urbanized area.