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Lower Paxton Township, Pennsylvania

Lower Paxton Township, Pennsylvania

Map of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania highlighting Lower Paxton Township
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Dauphin
Settled 1717
Incorporated 1729
 • Total 28.1 sq mi (73 km2)
Population (2000)
 • Total 44,424
 • Density 1,580.9/sq mi (610.4/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 717

Lower Paxton Township is a township in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States. The township was incorporated in 1767 from Paxton Township. The population was 44,424 at the 2000 census.


In 1729 the Paxtang Township was established within Lancaster County. The spelling "Paxtang" is from the original Indian name "Peshtank," which meant "standing water."[1] Today we use the word Paxton instead of Paxtang. The word “Paxton” was actually brought over by the Scottish settlers and means “town or area of Peace”.

On March 4, 1785, the boundaries of Paxtang Township also became the borders of the County of Dauphin, formed from Lancaster County. The word “Dauphin” was from the French name given to the Prince of France whose country the area government wanted to honor for its assistance in the Revolutionary War. About two years later in August of 1787 the legislature began to splinter Paxtang Township, first into: Upper Paxtang, Middle Paxtang and Lower Paxtang.[2]

In the years after Dauphin County was established, the township was slowly divided. Hanover Township was cut off the east in 1736 and Upper Paxton Township was cut off the north in 1767. What remained in 1767 was then renamed Lower Paxton Township. The divisions continued. Harrisburg Borough (now the City of Harrisburg) was formed in 1791 and Swatara Township was created in 1799. In 1878 more land was cut of the north and became Middle Paxton Township.

Lower Paxtang Township embraced the areas now known as Lower Swatara, Swatara, Lower Paxton, Derry and Susquehanna Townships. Lower Paxton has remained the same area since Susquehanna Township was formed from it on May 1, 1815.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 28.1 square miles (72.8 km²), all of it land.

Unincorporated communities and census designated places in Lower Paxton Township.


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 44,424 people, 18,584 households, and 12,153 families residing in the township. The population density was 1,580.9 people per square mile (610.4/km²). There were 19,606 housing units at an average density of 697.7/sq mi (269.4/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 86.51% White, 8.28% African American, 0.10% Native American, 2.69% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.04% from other races, and 1.35% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.37% of the population.

There were 18,584 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.2% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the township the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $49,566, and the median income for a family was $61,017. Males had a median income of $41,147 versus $30,837 for females. The per capita income for the township was $26,116. About 3.2% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.0% of those under age 18 and 2.5% of those age 65 or over.


In 2002 the Department of Environmental Protection mandated that the township eliminate sewer overflows in the Paxton Creek Basin by 2012. Overflows happen when extra water goes out manholes during heavy storms. The project involves the replacement of 42 miles (68 km) of asbestos cement pipes in the Paxton Creek basin, which drains the western half of the township. The $67 million plan will be paid for by residents' sewer bills which will double over the next 20 years.[4]

Ongoing pollution and soil erosion in the region continue to degrade the water quality and the environment locally as well as regionally. Farming, wastewater treatment facilities and industrial spills are cited as contributing factors to loss of water quality. It also contributes to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay. Controlling the wastewater discharges alone is expected to cost local taxpayers along the Susquehanna River billions of dollars.[5]

Plans for a greenways project are moving forward. Part of the comprehensive plan developed in 2004, the greenway will connect via trails several neighborhoods to five schools, two parks and the Lower Paxton Township Municipal Building. The cost of the multiyear project is estimated at $14 million.[6]

In 2006, the Foundation for Enhancing Communities conducted an extensive study. They identified five critical lissues for Dauphin County which include access to health care, transportation to jobs, substance abuse, job training/workforce development and affordable housing.[7]


Local waterways have been significantly impacted by development. The Paxton Creek watershed, which drains much of the area surrounding Harrisburg, has experienced substantial change in land uses during the past several decades. Development is encroaching on some of Paxton Creek’s headwaters. This has affected water levels and flow patterns, and caused significant erosion, sedimentation, and flooding. This 27-square-mile (70 km2) watershed now produces over twice the nutrients and 10 times the yields of suspended sediments that are released by typical forested basins, according to the Paxton Creek Watershed and Education Association.[8]


Children in the township attend public school the Central Dauphin School District.


External links

  • Lower Paxton Township

Coordinates: 40°20′00″N 76°47′59″W / 40.33333°N 76.79972°W / 40.33333; -76.79972

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