A small town, Irwin, Pennsylvania, was settled first by Mattias Cowan in 1761. However, the true founder of Irwin was Colonel John Irwin, an Ireland native and fur trader. He and his son led the construction of what is now Route 30 from Greensburg West through Irwin. The primary landmark in Irwin at this time was Fort Walthour, located in what is now North Huntingdon Square.
North Huntingdon Township was officially formed in 1773 when Westmoreland County was divided into eleven townships.
The 1800s in North Huntingdon Township were marked by the entrance of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Westmoreland Coal Company in 1852. Many immigrants settled in Irwin to work in the mines, and in 1890, building lots were established in North Irwin to start the residential community for families.
The 1900s brought much change for Irwin. For the most part, at the beginning of the 1900s, Irwin revolved around mines and small industries, but remained a largely agricultural and residential community. However, the thirties brought change for the working men in the community as the Jersey Cereal Company and the mines closed. World War I was over and the Great Depression had reached Irwin. It was a hard time for the people of Irwin, but they supported each other and kept strong as a community.
Fortunately, the business district thrived after a bypass of Route 30 was built to run right through North Huntingdon Township. The community worked hard throughout the week, and then they continued to bring more business to Irwin’s stores by taking their families to downtown Irwin on Saturday nights for their one night of relaxation. To further help business matters, a Turnpike exit was built in Irwin in 1940.
With the Turnpike exit, along came more accessible cars that kept the business district running. Drive-In movie theaters also came onto the scene, providing for a change from the Saturday nights spent in downtown Irwin. Things soon changed in the Irwin district with the Vietnam War in the sixties. Social change came with new fashion, politics, and music. The social changes were not all happy, though. Irwin lost fourteen of its men in battle during the Vietnam War.
With Woodstock ending the era of social generation, a new time was brought to Irwin. Families changed with the beginning of nuclear families. However, with the loss of family to other parts of the country, people became more dependable on their neighbors, thus strengthening an already strong Irwin community. The seventies also gave birth to latch-key children as mothers ventured into the workforce. Additionally, many community activities and leagues were developed with children and families attending more community events and going to the community pools that had been built.
From the eighties on, a new generation was born in Irwin. This generation has been forced to deal with many realities that no other generation had to deal with. However, the current generations in Irwin have much pride in their small and caring community. Despite all the societal changes, Irwin has managed to stay a strong, safe community that has just the right interdependence between residential and business areas. Irwin is a great small town that holds all the values of America, both old and new.