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Susquehanna River

Susquehanna River

Overview
The Susquehanna River is a river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 located in the northeastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. At 464 miles (746.7 km) long, it is the longest river on the American east coast
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

 that drains into the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, and with its watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United States without commercial boat traffic. It flows through three states: New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

. It forms from two main branches, with the "North Branch", which rises in upstate New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, regarded by federal mapmakers as the main branch.
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Encyclopedia
The Susquehanna River is a river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 located in the northeastern United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. At 464 miles (746.7 km) long, it is the longest river on the American east coast
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

 that drains into the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, and with its watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United States without commercial boat traffic. It flows through three states: New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

. It forms from two main branches, with the "North Branch", which rises in upstate New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, regarded by federal mapmakers as the main branch. The shorter West Branch
West Branch Susquehanna River
The West Branch Susquehanna River is one of the two principal branches, along with the North Branch, of the Susquehanna River in the northeastern United States. The North Branch, which rises in upstate New York, is generally regarded as the extension of the main branch, with the shorter West Branch...

, which rises in western Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, joins the main stem near Northumberland
Northumberland, Pennsylvania
Northumberland is a borough in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 3,714 at the 2000 census.-History:Northumberland was founded in 1772. The land that became Northumberland was purchased from the Iroquois in the first Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768, and the...

 in central Pennsylvania.

The river drains 27500 square miles (71,224.7 km²), including nearly half of the land area of Pennsylvania. The drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 (watershed) includes portions of the Allegheny Plateau
Allegheny Plateau
The Allegheny Plateau is a large dissected plateau area in western and central New York, northern and western Pennsylvania, northern and western West Virginia, and eastern Ohio...

 region of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

, cutting through water gap
Water gap
A water gap is an opening or notch which flowing water has carved through a mountain range. Water gaps often offer a practical route for road and rail transport to cross mountain ridges.- Geology :...

s in the lateral mountain ridges in a broad zigzag
Zigzag
A zigzag is a pattern made up of small corners at variable angles, though constant within the zigzag, tracing a path between two parallel lines; it can be described as both jagged and fairly regular....

 course to flow across the rural heartland of southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland. The river empties into the northern end of Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

, providing half of the Bay's freshwater inflow. Chesapeake Bay is in fact the ria
Ria
A ria is a coastal inlet formed by the partial submergence of an unglaciated river valley. It is a drowned river valley that remains open to the sea. Typically, rias have a dendritic, treelike outline although they can be straight and without significant branches. This pattern is inherited from the...

 of the Susquehanna.

Course


Rising as the outlet of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York
Cooperstown, New York
Cooperstown is a village in Otsego County, New York, USA. It is located in the Town of Otsego. The population was estimated to be 1,852 at the 2010 census.The Village of Cooperstown is the county seat of Otsego County, New York...

, the north branch of the river runs west-southwest through dairy country, receiving the Unadilla River
Unadilla River
The Unadilla River in New York State flows from south of Utica to the village of Sidney, where it flows into the Susquehanna River, which eventually empties into the Chesapeake Bay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean....

 at Sidney
Sidney (village), New York
Sidney is a village in Delaware County, New York, USA. The population was 4,068 at the 2000 census.The Village of Sidney is in west part of the Town of Sidney.-History:The village was named for Admiral Sir Sidney Smith.-Geography:...

 and the Chenango
Chenango River
The Chenango River is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in central New York in the United States. It drains a dissected plateau area in upstate New York at the northern end of the Susquehanna watershed....

 in downtown Binghamton
Binghamton, New York
Binghamton is a city in the Southern Tier of New York in the United States. It is near the Pennsylvania border, in a bowl-shaped valley at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers...

. At Athens Township
Athens Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania
Athens Township is a township in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 5,058 at the 2000 census.-Geography:According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it is water.Athens Township is bordered by New...

 (just south of Waverly, New York
Waverly, Tioga County, New York
----Waverly is the largest village in Tioga County, New York, United States. It is located southeast of Elmira in the Southern Tier region. This village was incorporated as the southwest part of the town of Barton in 1854...

) in northern Pennsylvania, just across the New York state line, it receives the Chemung
Chemung River
The Chemung River is a tributary of the Susquehanna River, approximately long, in south central New York and northern Pennsylvania in the United States. It drains a mountainous region of the northern Allegheny Plateau in the Southern Tier of New York...

 from the northwest and makes a right angle curve between Sayre and Towanda
Towanda, Pennsylvania
Towanda is a borough in and the county seat of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, United States, northwest of Wilkes Barre, on the Susquehanna River. The name means "burial ground" in the Algonquian language...

 to cut through the Endless Mountains
Endless Mountains
The Endless Mountains are a chain of mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania. The Endless Mountains region includes Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Northern Wayne, and Wyoming Counties.-History and geography:...

 in the Allegheny Plateau. It receives the Lackawanna River
Lackawanna River
The Lackawanna River is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania in the United States. It flows through a region of the northern Pocono Mountains that was once a center of anthracite coal mining in the United States...

 southwest of Scranton
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Scranton is a city in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, United States. It is the county seat of Lackawanna County and the largest principal city in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area. Scranton had a population of 76,089 in 2010, according to the U.S...

 and turns sharply to the southwest, flowing through the former anthracite industrial heartland in the mountain ridges of northeastern Pennsylvania, past Wilkes-Barre
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Wilkes-Barre is a city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, the county seat of Luzerne County. It is at the center of the Wyoming Valley area and is one of the principal cities in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area, which had a population of 563,631 as of the 2010 Census...

, Nanticoke
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
Nanticoke is a city in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 10,465 at the 2010 census.-History:The name Nanticoke was derived from Nantego, the Indian tidewater people who moved here when their Maryland lands were spoiled for hunting by the colonial settlement in...

, Berwick
Berwick, Pennsylvania
Berwick is a borough in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, 22.6 miles southwest of Wilkes Barre. Berwick is one of two principal cities of the Bloomsburg–Berwick Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers Columbia and Montour counties and had a combined population of 82,387...

, Bloomsburg
Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
Bloomsburg is a town in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, 40 miles southwest of Wilkes Barre along the Susquehanna River. In 1900, the population of Bloomsburg stood at 6,170; in 1910, 7,413; in 1940, 9,799, and in 1990, 12,439. The population was 14,855 at the 2010 census...

, and Danville
Danville, Pennsylvania
Danville is a borough in Montour County, Pennsylvania, USA, of which it is the county seat, on the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. Danville was home to 8,042 people in 1900, 7,517 people in 1910, and 7,122 people in 1940. The population was 4,897 at the 2000 census...

. It receives the smaller West Branch from the northwest at Northumberland, just above Sunbury
Sunbury, Pennsylvania
Sunbury is a city in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, United States. The city is located on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, just downstream of the confluence of its main and West branches. The population was 9,905 at the 2010 census...

.


Downstream from the confluence of its branches it flows south past Selinsgrove
Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
Selinsgrove is a borough in Snyder County, Pennsylvania, United States. It was founded in 1787 by Captain Anthony Selin, who fought with Washington in the Revolutionary War....

, where it is joined by its Penns Creek
Penns Creek
Penns Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania in the United States. Originally named "John Penn's Creek" after William Penn's younger brother, it was renamed Penns Creek in 1802 by an Act of Assembly...

 tributary, and cuts through a water gap at the western end of Mahantongo
Mahantongo
"Mahantongo" is a Lenape word, translated "where we had plenty of meat to eat" or "good hunting grounds." The name is shared by a creek, a valley, and a mountain in central Pennsylvania, and is a common street name in the area...

 Mountain. It receives the Juniata River
Juniata River
The Juniata River is a tributary of the Susquehanna River, approximately long, in central Pennsylvania in the United States. The river is considered scenic along much of its route, having a broad and shallow course passing through several mountain ridges and steeply-lined water gaps...

 from the northwest at Duncannon
Duncannon, Pennsylvania
Duncannon is a borough in Perry County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 1,508 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area. The center of population of Pennsylvania is located in Duncannon. It is named after the coastal town of...

, then passes through its last water gap through Blue Mountain
Blue Mountain (Pennsylvania)
Blue Mountain is a ridge that forms the eastern edge of the Appalachian mountain range in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It cuts across the eastern half of the state from New Jersey to Maryland, providing a distinct boundary between a number of Pennsylvania's geographical and cultural regions...

, just northwest of Harrisburg
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 49,528, making it the ninth largest city in Pennsylvania...

. It passes downtown Harrisburg (where it is nearly a mile wide), the largest city on the lower river, and flows southeast across South Central Pennsylvania
South Central Pennsylvania
South Central Pennsylvania is a region of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania that includes the fourteen counties of Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder, and York....

 forming the border between York
York County, Pennsylvania
York County is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of 2010, the population was 434,972. It is in the Susquehanna Valley, a large fertile agricultural region in South Central Pennsylvania....

 and Lancaster
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Lancaster County, known as the Garden Spot of America or Pennsylvania Dutch Country, is a county located in the southeastern part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in the United States. As of 2010 the population was 519,445. Lancaster County forms the Lancaster Metropolitan Statistical Area, the...

 counties, as well as receiving Swatara Creek
Swatara Creek
Swatara Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in east central Pennsylvania in the United States. "Swatara" is an Indian word meaning "Where we feed on eels."...

 from the northeast. It crosses into northern Maryland approximately 30 miles (48.3 km) northeast of Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 and is joined by Octoraro Creek
Octoraro Creek
Octoraro Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River, joining it above the Susquehanna's mouth at Chesapeake Bay. The Octoraro rises as an East and West Branch in Pennsylvania. The East Branch and Octoraro Creek form the southern half of the border between Lancaster and Chester counties until...

. The river enters the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Havre de Grace is a city in Harford County, Maryland, United States. Located at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of the Chesapeake Bay, Havre de Grace is named after the port city of Le Havre, France, which was first named Le Havre de Grâce, meaning in French "Harbor of Grace." As...

, where Concord Point Light
Concord Point Light
Concord Point Light is a lighthouse in Havre de Grace, Maryland, overlooking the point where the Susquehanna River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, an area of increasing navigational traffic at the time it was constructed in 1827. It was built by John Donahoo who built many lighthouses in Maryland...

 was built in 1827 to accommodate the increasing navigational traffic.

Geology


The river is far older than the mountain ridges through which it turns, most of which were formed in uplift events of the early Cenozoic
Cenozoic
The Cenozoic era is the current and most recent of the three Phanerozoic geological eras and covers the period from 65.5 mya to the present. The era began in the wake of the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous that saw the demise of the last non-avian dinosaurs and...

 era. Like the Hudson
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

, Delaware
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

 and Potomac
Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...

 rivers, the basin was well established in the flat plains that existed
Geology of the Appalachians
The geology of the Appalachians dates back to more than 480 million years ago. A look at rocks exposed in today's Appalachian Mountains reveals elongate belts of folded and thrust faulted marine sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks and slivers of ancient ocean floor - strong evidence that these rocks...

 during the Mesozoic
Mesozoic
The Mesozoic era is an interval of geological time from about 250 million years ago to about 65 million years ago. It is often referred to as the age of reptiles because reptiles, namely dinosaurs, were the dominant terrestrial and marine vertebrates of the time...

 era.

Pollution



The environmental group American Rivers named the Susquehanna "America's Most Endangered River for 2005" because of the excessive pollution
Water pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies . Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds....

 it receives. Most of the pollution in the river is caused by excess animal manure
Manure
Manure is organic matter used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are trapped by bacteria in the soil...

 from farming, agricultural runoff
Surface runoff
Surface runoff is the water flow that occurs when soil is infiltrated to full capacity and excess water from rain, meltwater, or other sources flows over the land. This is a major component of the water cycle. Runoff that occurs on surfaces before reaching a channel is also called a nonpoint source...

, urban and suburban stormwater runoff
Urban runoff
Urban runoff is surface runoff of rainwater created by urbanization. This runoff is a major source of water pollution in many parts of the United States and other urban communities worldwide.-Overview:...

, and raw or inadequately treated sewage
Sanitary sewer overflow
Sanitary sewer overflow is a condition whereby untreated sewage is discharged into the environment prior to reaching treatment facilities thereby escaping wastewater treatment. When caused by rainfall it is also known as wet weather overflow. It is primarily meaningful in developed countries,...

. In 2003 the river contributed 44% of the nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

, 21% of the phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

, and 21% of the sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 flowing into Chesapeake Bay. It was designated as one of the American Heritage Rivers
American Heritage Rivers
American Heritage Rivers are designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to receive special attention to further three objectives: natural resource and environmental protection, economic revitalization, and historic and cultural preservation.The American Heritage Rivers...

 in 1997. The designation provides for technical assistance from federal agencies to state and local governments working in the Susquehanna watershed.

Etymology


Before the arrival of the English colonists, the vicinity of this river in present day Maryland and Pennsylvania was the territory of the Susquehannock
Susquehannock
The Susquehannock people were Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans who lived in areas adjacent to the Susquehanna River and its tributaries from the southern part of what is now New York, through Pennsylvania, to the mouth of the Susquehanna in Maryland at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay...

 tribe. This tribal name is an exonym, reported by John Smith
John Smith of Jamestown
Captain John Smith Admiral of New England was an English soldier, explorer, and author. He was knighted for his services to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania and friend Mózes Székely...

 on his 1612 map, with the spelling "Sasquesahanough". It is understood to have come from a neighboring tribe, the Powhatan
Powhatan
The Powhatan is the name of a Virginia Indian confederation of tribes. It is estimated that there were about 14,000–21,000 of these native Powhatan people in eastern Virginia when the English settled Jamestown in 1607...

 of tidewater Virginia, which was an Algonquian speaking
Algonquian languages
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

 tribe. However, some scholars have suggested the possibility that it comes from a different Algonquian language. The meaning of the name is unknown; competing claims were reviewed in the early 1900's. Nowadays, there is an erroneous local legend that the name of the river comes from an Indian phrase meaning "mile wide, foot deep".

History


In the 1670s the Conestoga succumbed to Iroquois conquest
Beaver Wars
The Beaver Wars, also sometimes called the Iroquois Wars or the French and Iroquois Wars, commonly refers to a series of conflicts fought in the mid-17th century in eastern North America...

 and assimilation. In the aftermath, the Iroquois resettled some of the semi-tributary Lenape
Lenape
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...

 in this area, as it was near the western boundary of the Lenape's former territory, known as Lenapehoking
Lenapehoking
Lenapehoking is a term for the lands historically inhabited by the Native American people known as the Lenape in what is now the Northeastern United States...

.

The river has played an important role throughout the history of the United States
History of the United States
The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The...

. In the 18th century, William Penn
William Penn
William Penn was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early champion of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful...

, the founder of the Pennsylvania Colony
Province of Pennsylvania
The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in British America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II...

, negotiated with the Lenape to allow white settlement in the colony between the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

 and the Susquehanna. In late colonial times, the river became an increasingly important transportation corridor with the discovery of anthracite coal
Anthracite coal
Anthracite is a hard, compact variety of mineral coal that has a high luster...

 by Necho Allen in its upper reaches in the mountains. In 1790, Colonel Timothy Matlack
Timothy Matlack
Timothy Matlack was a merchant, surveyor, architect, statesman, and patriot in the American Revolution. A delegate from Pennsylvania to the Second Continental Congress in 1780, he emerged during the Revolutionary period as one of Pennsylvania's most provocative and influential political...

, Samuel Maclay
Samuel Maclay
Samuel Maclay was an American surveyor, farmer, and politician from Union County, Pennsylvania. He served in the state legislature and represented Pennsylvania in both the U.S. House and the United States Senate.-Biography:...

 and John Adlum
John Adlum
John Adlum was a pioneering American viticulturalist, a surveyor and an associate judge.-Background:He was born in York, Pennsylvania. He was a soldier and then a major in the American Provisional Army during the American Revolutionary War. He would later be promoted to Brigadier General in the...

 were commissioned by the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania comprised the executive branch of the Pennsylvania State government between 1777 and 1790...

 to survey the headwaters of the river and explore a route for a passageway to connect the West Branch
West Branch Susquehanna River
The West Branch Susquehanna River is one of the two principal branches, along with the North Branch, of the Susquehanna River in the northeastern United States. The North Branch, which rises in upstate New York, is generally regarded as the extension of the main branch, with the shorter West Branch...

 with the waters of the Allegheny River
Allegheny River
The Allegheny River is a principal tributary of the Ohio River; it is located in the Eastern United States. The Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River at the "Point" of Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

. In 1792, the Union Canal
Union Canal (Pennsylvania)
The Union Canal was a towpath canal that existed in southeastern Pennsylvania in the United States during the 19th century. First proposed in 1690 to connect Philadelphia with the Susquehanna River, it ran approximately 75 mi from Middletown on the Susquehanna below Harrisburg to Reading on...

 was proposed linking the Susquehanna and the Delaware along Swatara Creek
Swatara Creek
Swatara Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River in east central Pennsylvania in the United States. "Swatara" is an Indian word meaning "Where we feed on eels."...

 and Tulpehocken Creek
Tulpehocken Creek (Pennsylvania)
Tulpehocken Creek is a tributary of the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pennsylvania in the United States.An important transportation route in the early United States, the creek drains a limestone hill country area of Berks County south of the Appalachian Mountains and is considered one of the...

. In the 19th century, many industrial centers grew up along the river.
In 1779 General James Clinton
James Clinton
James Clinton was an American Revolutionary War soldier who obtained the rank of major general.He was born in Ulster County in the colony of New York, in a location now part of Orange County, New York...

 led an expedition down the Susquehanna after making the upper portion navigable by damming up the river's source at Otsego Lake, allowing the lake's level to rise and then destroying the dam and flooding the river for miles downstream. This event is described by James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century. He is best remembered as a novelist who wrote numerous sea-stories and the historical novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales, featuring frontiersman Natty Bumppo...

 in the introduction to his novel The Pioneers. At Athens, Pennsylvania
Athens, Pennsylvania
Athens is a borough in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, two miles south of the N. Y. State line on the Susquehanna and Chemung rivers. Population in 1900, 3,749; and in 1910, 3,796. The population was 3,415 at the 2000 census...

, then known as Tioga or "Tioga Point", Clinton met up with General John Sullivan
John Sullivan
John Sullivan was the third son of Irish immigrants, a United States general in the Revolutionary War, a delegate in the Continental Congress and a United States federal judge....

's forces, who had marched from Easton, Pennsylvania
Easton, Pennsylvania
Easton is a city in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 26,800 as of the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Northampton County....

. Together on August 29, they defeated the Tories
Loyalist (American Revolution)
Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. At the time they were often called Tories, Royalists, or King's Men. They were opposed by the Patriots, those who supported the revolution...

 and Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 at the Battle of Newtown
Battle of Newtown
The Battle of Newtown , also known as the Battle of Chemung, was the only major battle of the Sullivan Expedition, an armed offensive led by General John Sullivan that was ordered by the Continental Congress to end the threat of the Iroquois who had sided with the British in the American...

 (near today's city of Elmira, New York
Elmira, New York
Elmira is a city in Chemung County, New York, USA. It is the principal city of the 'Elmira, New York Metropolitan Statistical Area' which encompasses Chemung County, New York. The population was 29,200 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Chemung County.The City of Elmira is located in...

). This became known as the "Sullivan-Clinton Campaign" or the "Sullivan Expedition
Sullivan Expedition
The Sullivan Expedition, also known as the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition, was an American campaign led by Major General John Sullivan and Brigadier General James Clinton against Loyalists and the four nations of the Iroquois who had sided with the British in the American Revolutionary War.The...

".

Conflicting land claims by Pennsylvania and Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 to the Wyoming Valley
Wyoming Valley
Wyoming Valley is a region of northeastern Pennsylvania. As a metropolitan area, it is also known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, after its principal cities, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre....

 along the Susquehanna led to the founding of Westmoreland County, Connecticut
Westmoreland County, Connecticut
Westmoreland County, Connecticut was a county established by the State of Connecticut in the present day area of Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, until it was ceded to Pennsylvania in 1784, of which it now forms the northeastern corner. It briefly seceded to become the State of Westmoreland...

, and the Pennamite Wars, which eventually led to the territory being ceded to Pennsylvania.

The Susquehanna River holds importance for members of the Latter Day Saint movement
Latter Day Saint movement
The Latter Day Saint movement is a group of independent churches tracing their origin to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 14 million members...

 as the location where Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery
Oliver Cowdery
Oliver H. P. Cowdery was, with Joseph Smith, Jr., an important participant in the formative period of the Latter Day Saint movement between 1829 and 1836, becoming one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon's golden plates, one of the first Latter Day Saint apostles, and the Second Elder of...

 received the priesthood from heavenly beings and the place in which the first Latter Day Saint baptisms occurred. Smith and Cowdery said that they were visited on May 15, 1829, by the resurrected John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

 and given the Aaronic priesthood; following his visit, Smith and Cowdery baptized each other in the river. Later that year, they said they were also visited near the river by the apostles Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, James and John
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

. Both events took place in unspecified locations near the river's shore in either Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania
Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 42,238 people, 16,529 households, and 11,785 families residing in the county. The population density was 51 people per square mile . There were 21,829 housing units at an average density of 26 per square mile...

, or Broome County, New York
Broome County, New York
Broome County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 200,600. It was named in honor of John Broome, who was lieutenant governor in 1806 when Broome County was established. Its county seat is Binghamton, which is also its major city. The current...

.

During the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

's 1863 Gettysburg Campaign
Gettysburg Campaign
The Gettysburg Campaign was a series of battles fought in June and July 1863, during the American Civil War. After his victory in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia moved north for offensive operations in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The...

, the commander of the Department of the Susquehanna
Department of the Susquehanna
The Department of the Susquehanna was a military department created by the United States War Department during the Gettysburg Campaign of the American Civil War...

, Union
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Darius N. Couch
Darius N. Couch
Darius Nash Couch was an American soldier, businessman, and naturalist. He served as a career U.S. Army officer during the Mexican-American War, the Second Seminole War, and as a general officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War.During the Civil War, Couch fought notably in the...

, resolved that Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

's Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 would not cross the Susquehanna. He positioned militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 units under Maj. Granville Haller to protect key bridges in Harrisburg and Wrightsville
Wrightsville, Pennsylvania
Wrightsville is a borough in York County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 2,310 at the 2010 census. Wrightsville borough has a police department, historic society, and a volunteer fire company.- History :According to a plaque at Samuel S...

, as well as nearby fords. Confederate forces approached the river at several locations in Cumberland
Cumberland County, Pennsylvania
Cumberland County is a county located in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and is one of three counties comprising the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2010, the population was 235,406.-History:...

 and York
York County, Pennsylvania
York County is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of 2010, the population was 434,972. It is in the Susquehanna Valley, a large fertile agricultural region in South Central Pennsylvania....

 counties but were recalled on June 29 when Lee chose to concentrate his army to the west.

In 1972, the remnants of Hurricane Agnes
Hurricane Agnes
Hurricane Agnes was the first tropical storm and first hurricane of the 1972 Atlantic hurricane season. A rare June hurricane, it made landfall on the Florida Panhandle before moving northeastward and ravaging the Mid-Atlantic region as a tropical storm...

 stalled over the New York-Pennsylvania border, dropping as much as 20 inches (50.8 cm) of rain on the hilly lands. Much of that precipitation was received into the Susquehanna from its western tributaries, and the valley suffered disastrous flooding. Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Wilkes-Barre is a city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, the county seat of Luzerne County. It is at the center of the Wyoming Valley area and is one of the principal cities in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area, which had a population of 563,631 as of the 2010 Census...

, was among the hardest hit communities. Chesapeake Bay received so much fresh water that it killed much of the marine life.
In June 2006, portions of the river system were affected by the Mid-Atlantic Flood of June 2006, a flood caused by a stalled jet stream-driven storm system. The worst affected area was Binghamton, New York
Binghamton, New York
Binghamton is a city in the Southern Tier of New York in the United States. It is near the Pennsylvania border, in a bowl-shaped valley at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers...

, where record setting flood levels forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Boating


The Susquehanna River has long been associated with boating because of the many migratory fish that are caught there. Many tourists and locals of Pennsylvania use the Susquehanna in the summer for recreation purposes such as kayaking, canoeing, and motor-boating. Canoe races are held on various sections of the river every year like the amateur race held in Oneonta, New York
Oneonta, New York
Oneonta is a city in southern Otsego County, New York, USA. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, had a population of 13,901. Its nickname is "City of the Hills." While the word "oneonta" is of undetermined origin, it is popularly believed to mean "place of open rocks" in the Iroquois language...

.

Rowing


Rowing on the Susquehanna River has a long history. Starting in 1874, rowers from Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania
Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania
Shamokin Dam is a small borough in Snyder County, Pennsylvania, United States. The name is derived from a dam that was built across the Susquehanna River in the 19th century. The dam supported steamboat ferries run by Ira T. Clement, which transported goods and people between Shamokin Dam and the...

 raced men from Sunbury
Sunbury, Pennsylvania
Sunbury is a city in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, United States. The city is located on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, just downstream of the confluence of its main and West branches. The population was 9,905 at the 2010 census...

. The General Clinton Canoe Regatta is the world's longest flat-water race and takes place each year in Bainbridge, New York
Bainbridge, New York
Bainbridge, New York, the name of a village and a town in Chenango County, New York, USA may refer to:* Bainbridge, New York* Bainbridge , New York, a village in the town- See also :...

 on Memorial Day
Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War...

 weekend. Binghamton University Crew, and Hiawatha Island Boat Club are also located on the river, in the Southern Tier
Southern Tier
The Southern Tier is a geographical term that refers to the counties of New York State west of the Catskill Mountains along the northern border of Pennsylvania. It is a loosely defined term that generally includes the counties that border Pennsylvania west of Delaware County inclusive...

 of New York.

Bridges, ferries, canals and dams


The Susquehanna River has played an important role in the transportation history of the United States
Transportation in the United States
Transportation in the United States is facilitated by road, air, rail, and water networks. The vast majority of passenger travel occurs by automobile for shorter distances, and airplane for longer distances...

. Prior to the 1818 opening of the Port Deposit Bridge
Port Deposit Bridge
The Port Deposit Bridge was the earliest bridge crossing of the Susquehanna River below Columbia, Pennsylvania, providing the first reliable link between the northern and southern United States. The bridge was also the fifth and last of Theodore Burr's Susquehanna crossings...

, the river formed a barrier between the northern and southern states, crossable only by ferry
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

. The earliest dams were constructed to support ferry operations in low water. The presence of many rapids in the river meant that while commercial traffic could navigate down the river in the spring thaws, nothing could move up. This led to the construction of two different canal systems on the lower Susquehanna; the first was the Susquehanna Canal, also called the Conowingo Canal or the Port Deposit Canal, completed in 1802 by a Maryland company known as the Proprietors of the Susquehanna Canal; the second was the much longer and more successful Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal
Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal
The Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal between Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, and Havre de Grace, Maryland, at the head of Chesapeake Bay, provided an interstate shipping alternative to 19th-century arks, rafts, and boats plying the difficult waters of the lower Susquehanna River...

. The canals required additional dams to provide canal water and navigation pools. As the industrial age progressed, bridges replaced ferries, and railroads replaced canals, often built right on top of the canal right of way along the river. Many canal remnants can be seen in Havre de Grace, Maryland
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Havre de Grace is a city in Harford County, Maryland, United States. Located at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of the Chesapeake Bay, Havre de Grace is named after the port city of Le Havre, France, which was first named Le Havre de Grâce, meaning in French "Harbor of Grace." As...

, along US Route 15 in Pennsylvania, and in upstate New York at various locations. These latter remnants are parts of the upstream divisions of the Pennsylvania Canal
Pennsylvania Canal
Pennsylvania Canal refers generally to a complex system of canals, dams, locks, tow paths, aqueducts, and other infrastructure including, in some cases, railroads in Pennsylvania...

, of privately funded canals, and of canals in the New York system.

Today, there are over two hundred bridges crossing the Susquehanna. The sole remaining ferry, the Millersburg Ferry
Millersburg Ferry
Joseph Kramer, son of David Kramer, was granted by the Act of March 21, 1866 P.L. 358, the right to operate the ferry at his own expense. Part of the act stipulated that Kramer build and maintain landings on both shores of the river....

 at Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Millersburg is a borough in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 2,562 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

, is a seasonal tourist attraction. The canals are gone or are part of historical parks, and dams are related to power generation or recreation. Perhaps the most famous of the bridges, the Rockville Bridge
Rockville Bridge
The Rockville Bridge, at the time of its completion in 1902, was, and still remains, the longest stone masonry arch railroad viaduct in the world. Constructed between 1900 - 1902 by the Pennsylvania Railroad, it has forty-eight 70-foot spans, for a total length of 3,820 feet .The bridge crosses...

, crosses the river from Harrisburg
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 49,528, making it the ninth largest city in Pennsylvania...

 to Marysville, Pennsylvania
Marysville, Pennsylvania
Marysville is a borough in Perry County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 2,425 in July 2008. It is part of the Harrisburg–Carlisle Metropolitan Statistical Area....

. The Rockville Bridge, when constructed, was the longest stone masonry arch bridge
Arch bridge
An arch bridge is a bridge with abutments at each end shaped as a curved arch. Arch bridges work by transferring the weight of the bridge and its loads partially into a horizontal thrust restrained by the abutments at either side...

 in the world. It was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad
Pennsylvania Railroad
The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American Class I railroad, founded in 1846. Commonly referred to as the "Pennsy", the PRR was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania....

 in the early 20th century, replacing an earlier iron bridge.

See also

  • City Island (Pennsylvania)
    City Island (Pennsylvania)
    City Island is a mile-long island in the Susquehanna River between Harrisburg and Wormleysburg, Pennsylvania in the United States. It is used mainly for leisure and sports activities...

  • Garrett Island (Maryland)
    Garrett Island (Maryland)
    Garrett Island is an island located in Cecil County, Maryland, from the mouth of the Susquehanna River, directly west of Perryville and north of Havre de Grace. It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The island is crossed by the CSX...

  • Geography of Pennsylvania
    Geography of Pennsylvania
    The Geography of Pennsylvania varies from sea level marine estuary to mountainous plateau, is significant for its natural resources and ports, and is notable for its role in the history of the United States.- Major features :...

  • List of Maryland rivers
  • List of New York rivers
  • List of Pennsylvania rivers
  • McCormick Island
    McCormick Island
    McCormick Island is a island, located in the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It's one of the larger islands that makes up the Sheets Island Archipelago in the Susquehanna River. Other islands surrounding are Sheets Island, and Governor’s Mansion Island. It is directly south of the I-81 bridge,...

  • Spades Wharf Island
    Spades Wharf Island
    Spades Wharf Island is an a small island in the Susquehanna River in Highspire, Pennsylvania, Near the Harrisburg International Airport, the island itself is part of the Pennsylvania State Game Lands and is known for its small shape.-External links:*...


External links