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Aliquippa, the county's most populous borough, seemingly grew overnight from the merger of three small villages, each with a history of its own.
While a relatively new community compared to others in the county, Aliquippa's traditions go back to the very beginning of colonial habitation in Beaver County. In the years before the Revolution, two Indian traders, successively, chose the fertile fields across the river from the old Indian village of Logstown to make a home. Alexander McKee, the first resident, built a cabin around 1769, but evidently did not stay too long. In 1771, John Gibson surveyed 300 acres, built a cabin, and planted crops, becoming the first colonial farmer in the county, although the same land along the river had been farmed by the Indians for many years.
Logstown, the Delaware Indian village, was across the river in Baden, but somehow the name was transferred to the stream on the west side of the Ohio. In turn, the small village near the stream mouth became known as Logstown Bottom.
The Reverend Andrew McDonald lived here when he became pastor of White Oak Flats Church in 1810. White Oak Flats was a large level area in the hills west of Logstown, and the site of an early Presbyterian Church, which for a long time was known by the same name. (It was later called Mt. Carmel.)
The Flats were bisected by Brodhead's Road in 1778, when the supply trail from Pittsburgh to Fort McIntosh (Beaver) was cut through the wilderness. Later, a road from the fertile Raccoon Creek valley to the Ohio River intersected the military trail, and a village grew up at the crossroads. In time the village became known as New Sheffield.
In 1877, while the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad was laying track through Logstown Bottom, a post office was established in the village. A new name, Woodlawn, was suggested by Mattie McDonald and adopted. The P. & L.E. built an amusement area north of Woodlawn, and named it Aliquippa Park. Soon an adjacent village had its own station, called Aliquippa. A shovel factory and other manufacturers located here and a townsite was laid out, incorporated in 1894 as Aliquippa Borough.
In the next decade or so, Aliquippa developed into a fair sized industrial town, while Woodlawn village, a few miles to the south, languished as a rural community, although the Woodlawn Academy and a Presbyterian church had been established near the station.
Everything changed, however, in 1906, when construction began for the huge Aliquippa works of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company. Old Logstown disappeared while a new business district was constructed in the valley and plans of houses sprung up on every surrounding hill.
In 1926, Woodlawn, already the largest community in Beaver County, annexed New Sheffield from Hopewell Township, along with the land in between. In 1928, a merger was effected by a referendum of the voters with Aliquippa Borough, and the new borough retained the name of the smaller partner to better identify with the name of the steel works. (There is no historical evidence connecting the Indian Queen Aliquippa with the location of the borough. This was one of several Indian names selected arbitrarily by the P. & L.E. Railroad in 1878 for stations along the route. Others were Shannopin, now South Heights, and Monaca.)
Aliquippa's leaders were perplexed by the problems created by the automobile and the mobility it gave to people. The younger generations have chosen to build homes in neighboring suburban townships. The Franklin Avenue business district declined as shoppers found it more convenient to drive to the outlying shopping centers than to cope with traffic and parking problems downtown.
The old borough of Aliquippa became known as West Aliquippa (the second time it was named by the railroad.) In the 1960's J. & L. filled in Crow's Island, on the river side of town, and constructed a huge new steel producing facility there. The old town seems destined to be completely swallowed up by the mill, as many houses and buildings have been demolished.
New Sheffield has become the center of the community as many churches and businesses have relocated there, and also contains the borough's only elementary school.
In the last 15 years. most of the J. & L. Steel works has been shut down or demolished in along the Ohio in Aliquippa. The commissioners of Beaver County plan to use a large portion of that site to relocate the county jail. The Franklin Avenue business district is basically non-existent today. Its main purpose now is a throughway for Aliquippa residents to route 51, leading to Ambridge, South Heights, or Monaca.