For much of its history, Williamsport produced a wide variety of manufactured goods, like sewing machines, bicycles and automobile engines. One plant still manufactures airplane engines, and Shop-Vac vacuums are made here. As manufacturing became more automated, fewer factory jobs were available and the town population declined.
It's going through a renaissance, however, according to Bill Hodrick of Prudential Hodrick Realty, fueled by natural gas development. Williamsport is right in the Marcellus Shale formation, a huge reservoir of the fuel that's starting to be tapped.
Williamsport is most famous for being the home of the Little League World Series. It's an appropriate location to host an event that's American as apple pie even though it attracts teams from all over the world. "That's the core of our family culture," said Hodrick.
The city's previous prosperity has left a legacy of beautiful old homes, pushed lower in price in part by the drop in population. Beautiful 4,000 square foot homes on two acres can be had for less than a half million dollars. Well kept homes in the historical district are even better buys.
Hodrick said there has been "upward pressure on prices" as the power companies have moved in to develop the gas fields.
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