Johnsonburg Borough: Oldest Borough in Elk County

November 22nd, 2023

One hundred and twenty-four miles from Pittsburgh, and 115 miles from Buffalo, NY, the borough of Johnsonburg sits proudly along the Clarion River. Paper mills were, and still are, an important part of Johnsonburg’s growth.

The town was first settled in 1810 and named in honor of pioneer settler David Johnson. In 1890, the U.S. Postal Service wanted to rename Johnsonburg as “Quay”, to honor Matthew Quay, a U.S. Senator, but the effort failed. The borough was incorporated in 1891.

Johnsonburg’s commercial district was named a national historic district in 1999. It includes 32 contributing buildings and encompasses the historic central business district, including a majority of brick structures, most of which were built between the 1890s and 1930s. The most notable structure is the Anderson Brick Block, built in the 1980s and locals know it as "the Brick Block" or "the Block,” 12 storefront brick structures behind a cantilevered sandstone arcade on the first story and a series of apartments above.

According to, paper from the mill originally was used for the Saturday Evening Post during the days that artist Normal Rockwell would create its covers. In later years, it would produce the paper used for the books in the Harry Potter series. Due to its rich paper production heritage, the town’s nickname is “The Paper City”.

As found on, Domtar Paper Mill has a working trout hatchery on site and tours can be scheduled. Visitors will find great camping and endless outdoor activities at nearby Bendigo State Park, East Branch Lake, Twin Lakes Recreation Area, and Allegheny National Forest.

Many events and activities are held throughout the year, the town is decorated for the holidays, and businesses and organizations are promoted.