In 1785, the word “Emporium” was carved into a tree at a land surveyor’s camp at the mouth of the Portage River. Five years would pass until the word first appeared on a map. Emporium’s first settler would have to wait until 1810.
Its population continued to grow at a very slow rate until Cameron County was established in 1860, and Emporium was chosen as the county seat. Its sudden growth led to its incorporation as a borough in 1864.
Emporium lies at an altitude of 1,031 feet, yet it rests in a valley of the Allegheny Mountain range in north central Pennsylvania. This location protects the borough from severe weather conditions, while giving a home to bountiful game.
Emporium’s best-known road is the Bucktail Trail, or State Route 120. It was headquarters for Pennsylvania's renowned Bucktail Regiment during the Civil War. Lumbering was the main industry until dynamite factories took over for a while around World War I. It was the home of Sylvania, which employed so many women during World War II that a national magazine dubbed Emporium “Girls Town, USA.” Since Sylvania’s closing, powdered metal plants and a variety of small industries have taken its place. Lumbering has made a come-back and is an integral part of the local economy.
The town is well known to hunters and fishermen who converge here for trout season and again in the fall for small game, wild turkey, deer, and bear. Every July, Emporium has the distinction of playing host for the annual Pennsylvania Little League Senior Division Championships.