The Susquehanna River is 464 miles (747 km) long and is the longest river on the US East Coast. With its watershed, it is the 16th-largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United States without commercial boat traffic today. In the Canal Era, navigation improvements were made to enhance the river for barge shipping of bulk goods by water on the Pennsylvania Canal.
History the river has played an important role throughout American history. In the 18th century, William Penn’s negotiations with the Lenape led to settlements in the lands between the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers and, in late colonial times, anthracite coal was transported. During the American Revolution, an expedition came downriver from its headwaters; the upper portion navigable by damming the river’s source at Lake Otsego, allowing the lake’s level to rise and then destroying the dam and flooding the river for miles downstream.
Bridges Ferries Canals and Dams prior to the Port Deposit Bridge opening in 1818, the river formed a barrier between the northern and southern states. The earliest dams were constructed to support ferry operations in low water. Its many rapids meant that commercial traffic could only navigate down the river in the high waters of the spring thaws. Two different canal systems were constructed on the lower Susquehanna to bypass the rapids. The Port Deposit Canal was completed in 1802, followed by the larger Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal. Later, bridges replaced ferries, and railroads replaced canals.
Today 200 Bridges and Two Ferries cross the Susquehanna. Canals are preserved as Historic Parks
Harrisburg, the Capital of Pennsylvania, was inhabited by Native Americans as early as 3000 BC. Known as Peixtin, the area was an important trading post for Native American traders, as trails leading from the Delaware to the Ohio Rivers, and from the Potomac to the Upper Susquehanna intersected there.
You should know that the famed 2200 mile Appalachian Trail curves through the Hershey Harrisburg Region for 28 miles; Broad Street Market in Harrisburg is the nation’s oldest continually operating market; in Hershey, the streets are lined with Hershey’s Kisses®! Chocolate Avenue’s street lamps are shaped like the famous candies; the Rockville Bridge in Harrisburg is the longest stone masonry arch railroad bridge in the world with 48 arches measuring 70 feet each spanning the Susquehanna River.
City Island is a 63-acre tourism and recreational destination containing archeological treasures of the Susquehannocks and Iroquois tribes which established seasonal settlements here. The island was a stopping off-point for Union soldiers during the Civil War; they crossed over it by way of the Camelback Bridge to defend Harrisburg from the threat of invasion by the Confederate Army. Today, City Island is a tourist and sports venue for the Harrisburg Senators Baseball Stadium, the City Islanders Soccer Stadium, the Pride of the Susquehanna, City Island Railroad, and the City Island Stables.
Millersburg Borough nestled along the Susquehanna River, is quaint community radiating out from a Victorian Market Square Park featuring a Gazebo dating back to 1891. Millersburg evolved along with the introduction new forms of transportation; travel back to the 17th century and visit the Wiconisco Canal in MYO Park and a restored 1898 passenger rail station on West Center Street. The National Historic Register’s Millersburg Ferry System traces its roots to 1817.
Pride of the Susquehanna River Boat is one of the last remaining authentic paddle-wheel riverboats in America. Since her construction and launch in 1988, “The Pride” has carried almost a million passengers who have enjoyed themed cruises and River School Educational Trips.