Portersville is a small borough located in Butler County, Pennsylvania, situated along U.S. Route 19 and just on the border with Lawrence County. The area, within Muddy Creek Township, was first settled by Robert Stewart in about 1796 and a small settlement sprouted up. In 1825 Stewart’s son, also Robert Stewart, surveyed the land and laid out a lots to begin the town of Stewartsville. A collection of shops, stores, factories, churches, a hotel, and other establishments were built in the coming years.
A post office was founded in the town in 1826 and according to popularly accepted historical accounts the settlement’s name was changed to Portersville in honor of Pennsylvania Governor David R. Porter (1788-1867). That fact can’t be entirely accurate though. Perhaps the name change came later or Porter was honored for his military and political stature in 1826, because he did not ascend to the governorship until 1839.
In December 1844 the town was incorporated as an independent borough with Dr. John Cowden elected as the first Burgess. The small borough remained quaint and had a population of 190 in 1890. In late 1906 the Western Allegheny Railroad (WARR), a steam-powered shortline railway that mainly carried coal but also provided passenger service, was opened for business. This gave Portersville an economic boast as the WARR linked up with other major railways near New Castle. The WARR established a train station and yard facilities just north of the town, which was generally known as Portersville Station from then on. The train station closed by the 1940’s, but some portions of the railway were in operation well in the mid-1990’s.
Portersville was a fixture in the regional news headlines beginning in the mid-1950’s. In 1955 Interstate 79 was authorized and a stretch would be built just to the east of town, once again providing easy transportation in and out of area. In 1958, after a period of study, it was decided to dam the Muddy Creek just near the former Portersville train station to create 3,200-acre lake as part of a new state park. Today, Portersville, with a population of about 300, is a stopover for folks headed to the recreational waters of Lake Arthur, which opened as part of Moraine State Park in May 1970.