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The Susquehanna River (;
Lenape The Lenape (, , or Lenape ), also called the Leni Lenape, Lenni Lenape and Delaware people, are an indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands include Native American tribes The term ...
: Siskëwahane) is a major
river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of wate ...

river
located in the
Mid-AtlanticMid-Atlantic or Mid Atlantic can refer to: *The middle of the Atlantic Ocean *Mid-Atlantic English, a mix between British English and American English *Mid-Atlantic Region (Little League World Series), one of the United States geographic divisions of ...
region of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, overlapping between the lower
Northeast The points of the compass are an evenly spaced set of horizontal directions (or azimuth An azimuth (; from ar, اَلسُّمُوت, as-sumūt, the directions) is an angular measurement In Euclidean geometry Euclidean geometry is a ma ...
and the
Upland South The Upland South or Upper South is a cultural and geographic subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the ...
. At long, it is the longest river on the
East Coast of the United States The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, the Atlantic Coast, and the Atlantic Seaboard, is the coast The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the ocean ...
. By
watershed Watershed is a hydrological term, which has been adopted in other fields in a more or less figurative sense. It may refer to: Hydrology * Drainage divide, the line that separates neighbouring drainage basins ** European watershed * Drainage basin, ...

watershed
area, it is the 16th-largest river in the United States,Susquehanna River Trail
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is an independent state agency responsible for the regulation of all fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are , , -bearing animals that lack with . Included in this d ...
, accessed March 25, 2010.
Susquehanna River
, Green Works Radio, accessed March 25, 2010.
and also the longest river in the early 21st-century
continental United States The contiguous United States or officially the conterminous United States, also known as the Lower 48, consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state ho ...
without commercial boat traffic. The Susquehanna River forms from two main branches: the North Branch, which rises in
Cooperstown, New York Cooperstown is a Administrative divisions of New York#Village, village in and county seat of Otsego County, New York, United States. Most of the village lies within the town of Otsego, New York, Otsego, but some of the eastern part is in the tow ...
, and is regarded by federal mapmakers as the main branch or headwaters, and the West Branch, which rises in western
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
and joins the main branch near
Northumberland Northumberland () is a ceremonial county The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England and informally known as ceremonial counties, are areas of England to which lord-li ...
in central Pennsylvania. The river drains , including nearly half of the land area of Pennsylvania. The
drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The drainage basin includes all the surface water from surface runoff, rain runoff, snowm ...

drainage basin
includes portions of the
Allegheny Plateau The Allegheny Plateau , in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consist ...
region of the
Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (nor ...

Appalachian Mountains
, cutting through a succession of
water gap A water gap is a gap that flowing water has carved through a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with si ...
s in a broad
zigzag A zigzag is a pattern A pattern is a regularity in the world, in human-made design, or in abstract ideas. As such, the elements of a pattern repeat in a predictable manner. A geometric pattern is a kind of pattern formed of geometric ...

zigzag
course to flow across the rural heartland of southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), 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 ...

Maryland
in the lateral near-parallel array of mountain ridges. The river empties into the northern end of the
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zo ...
at Perryville and
Havre de Grace, Maryland Havre de Grace (), abbreviated HdG, is a city in Harford County, Maryland, Harford County, Maryland, United States, situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay. It is named after the port city of Le Havre, Franc ...
, providing half of the Bay's freshwater inflow. The bay lies in the flooded valley, or ''
ria A ria (; gl, ría) is a coastal inlet An inlet is an indentation of a shoreline, usually long and narrow, such as a small bay or arm, that often leads to an enclosed body of water, body of salt water, such as a Sound (geography), sound, bay ...

ria
'', of the Susquehanna.


Geology

The Susquehanna River is one of the oldest existing rivers in the world, being dated as 320–340 Mya, older than the mountain ridges through which it flows. These ridges resulted from the
Alleghenian orogeny The Alleghanian orogeny or Appalachian orogeny is one of the geology, geological mountain-forming events that formed the Appalachian Mountains and Allegheny Mountains. The term and spelling Alleghany orogeny was originally proposed by H.P. Woodward ...
uplift events, when Africa (as part of
Gondwana Gondwana () or Gondwanaland was a supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (g ...

Gondwana
) slammed into the Northern part of
EurAmerica Laurasia () was the more northern of two large landmasses that formed part of the Pangaea Pangaea or Pangea () was a supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("s ...
. The Susquehanna basin reaches its ultimate outflow in the
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zo ...
. It was well established in the flat tidelands of eastern North America during the
Mesozoic The Mesozoic Era ( ), also called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers, is the second-to-last era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy ...
era about 252 to 66 million years ago. This is the same period when the
Hudson Hudson may refer to: People * Hudson (given name) * Hudson (surname) Places Argentina * Hudson, Buenos Aires Province, a town in Berazategui Partido Australia * Hudson, Queensland, a locality in the Cassowardy Coast Region Canada * H ...

Hudson
,
Delaware Delaware ( ) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes i ...

Delaware
and
Potomac
Potomac
rivers were established.


Course

Both branches and the lower Susquehanna were part of important regional transportation corridors. The river was extensively used for muscle-powered
ferries A ferry is a vessel used to carry passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo, across a body of water. A passenger ferry with many stops, such as in Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern It ...

ferries
,
boat A boat is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional properties. It m ...

boat
s, and
canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * ...

canal
boat shipping of bulk goods in the brief decades before the
Pennsylvania Canal System The Pennsylvania Canal (or sometimes Pennsylvania Canal system) was a complex system of transportation infrastructure improvements including canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geo ...
was eclipsed by the coming of age of
steam Steam is water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fl ...

steam
-powered
railways Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional p ...

railways
. While the railroad industry has been less prevalent since the closures and mergers of the 1950s–1960s, a wide-ranging rail transportation infrastructure still operates along the river's shores.


North Branch Susquehanna

Also called the Main Branch Susquehanna, the longer branch of the river rises at the outlet of Otsego Lake in
Cooperstown, New York Cooperstown is a Administrative divisions of New York#Village, village in and county seat of Otsego County, New York, United States. Most of the village lies within the town of Otsego, New York, Otsego, but some of the eastern part is in the tow ...
. From there, the north branch of the river runs west-southwest through rural farmland and dairy country, receiving the
Unadilla River The Unadilla River is a river in the Central New York Region of New York (state), New York State. The river begins northeast of the hamlet of Millers Mills, New York, Millers Mills and flows generally south to the village of Sidney (village), New Y ...
at Sidney. It dips south into
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...

Pennsylvania
briefly to turn sharply 90 degrees west at Susquehanna and again 90 degrees north at hooking back into
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
. It receives the Chenango in downtown
Binghamton Binghamton is a city (New York), city in, and the county seat of, Broome County, New York, Broome County, New York (state), New York, United States. It lies in the state's hilly Southern Tier region near the Pennsylvania border, in a bowl-shaped ...
. After meandering westwards, it turns south crossing the line again through the twin towns of Waverly, New York and and their large
right bank Right Bank may refer to: * Right Bank (Biscay) The right bank of the estuary of the river Nervión in Biscay, Spain is part of the Gran Bilbao, Metropolitan Area of Bilbao and is formed by the towns of Getxo, Leioa and Erandio. It includes af ...
railyard, once briefly holding the largest structure in the United States devoted to the maintenance and construction of railroad locomotives. A couple of miles south, in , it receives the from the northwest. It makes a right-angle curve between Sayre and Towanda to cut through the
Endless Mountains The Endless Mountains are a geographical, geological, and cultural region in Northeastern Pennsylvania Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) is a geographic region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristic ...
in the Allegheny Plateau of Pennsylvania. It receives the
Lackawanna River The Lackawanna River is a U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline dataThe National Map, accessed August 8, 2011 tributary of the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania in the United States. It flows th ...
southwest of
Scranton Scranton is the sixth-largest city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It is the county seat and largest city of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, Lackawanna County in Northeastern Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley. With a population of 76,328 as of th ...

Scranton
and turns sharply to the southwest, flowing through the former
anthracite Anthracite, also known as hard coal, is a hard, compact variety of coal Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as stratum, rock strata called coal seams. Coal is mostly carbon with variable amounts of other ...

anthracite
industrial heartland in the mountain ridges of northeastern Pennsylvania, past (
Greater Pittston Greater Pittston is a 65.35 sq mi (169.25 km²) region in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in reference to the area in and around Pittston, Pennsylvania, Pittston. As of 2010, the total population of Greater Pittston ...
),
Wilkes-Barre Wilkes-Barre ( or ) is a city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, Luzerne County. Located at the center of the Wyoming Valley, it had an estimated population of 44,328 in 2020. It is the seco ...
, Nanticoke, ,
Berwick Berwick may refer to: Places Antarctica *Berwick Glacier Australia *Berwick, Victoria *City of Berwick, Victoria (defunct) Canada *Berwick, New Brunswick *Berwick, Nova Scotia *Berwick, Ontario New Zealand *Berwick, New Zealand United Kingdom ...
, , and
DanvilleDanville or Dansville may refer to: ;Canada *Danville, Quebec ;United States *Danville, Alabama *Danville, Arkansas *Danville, California *Danville, Georgia *Danville, Illinois *Danville, Indiana *Danville, Iowa *Danville, Kansas *Danville, Kentuck ...

Danville
, before receiving the West Branch at Northumberland.


West Branch Susquehanna

The origin of the official West Branch is near Elmora, Pennsylvania, in northern Cambria County near the contemporary and
US Route 219 U.S. Route 219 (US 219) is a spur of U.S. Route 19, US 19. It runs for from West Seneca, New York at an interchange with Interstate 90 (I-90) to Rich Creek, Virginia, intersecting at U.S. Route 460, US 460. US 219 is found (from north to south) ...
(locally Plank Road). It travels northeasterly through the towns of
Northern Cambria Northern may refer to the following: Geography * North, a point in direction * Northern Europe, the northern part or region of Europe * Northern Highland, a region of Wisconsin, United States * Northern Range, a range of hills in Trinidad Schoo ...
,
Cherry Tree A cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus ''Prunus'', and is a fleshy drupe (stone fruit). Commercial cherries are obtained from cultivars of several species, such as the sweet ''Prunus avium'' and the sour ''Prunus cerasus''. The ...
, Burnside, Mahaffey and Curwensville (where the river is dammed to form a lake), into and through Clearfield, where it receives
Clearfield Creek Clearfield Creek is a U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline dataThe National Map, accessed August 8, 2011 tributary A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem ...
. The West Branch turns to the southeast and passes Karthaus (at Mosquito Creek), Keating (at Sinnemahoning Creek), and Lock Haven, where it receives Bald Eagle Creek. It passes Williamsport, where both Lycoming Creek and Loyalsock Creek empty into it, then turns south, passing , before joining the North Branch flowing from the northwest at Northumberland.


Main Susquehanna flow

Downstream from the confluence of its branches in Northumberland, the river flows south past , where it is joined by its Penns Creek tributary, and cuts through a
water gap A water gap is a gap that flowing water has carved through a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with si ...
at the western end of Mahantongo Mountain. It receives the
Juniata River The Juniata River () is a tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream A stream is a body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål ...
from the northwest at
Duncannon Duncannon () is a village in southwest County Wexford, Republic of Ireland, Ireland. Bordered to the west by Waterford Harbour, Waterford harbour and sitting on a rocky headland jutting into the channel is the strategically prominent Duncanno ...
, then passes through its last water gap, the Susquehanna Gap through the
Blue Mountain Ridge Blue Mountain, Blue Mountain Ridge, or the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania is a ridge of the Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America North ...
, just northwest of
Harrisburg Harrisburg ( ; Pennsylvania German language, Pennsylvania German: ''Harrisbarrig'') is the capital city of the Pennsylvania, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and the county seat of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Dauphin Count ...
. Downtown Harrisburg developed on the east side of the river, which is nearly a mile wide here. Harrisburg is the largest city located on the lower river, which flows southeast across
South Central Pennsylvania South Central Pennsylvania is a region of the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, prima ...
, forming the border between
York York is a cathedral city City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United ...
and
LancasterLancaster may refer to: Lands and titles *The County Palatine of Lancaster, a synonym for Lancashire *Duchy of Lancaster, one of only two British royal duchies *Duke of Lancaster *Earl of Lancaster *House of Lancaster, a British royal dynasty ...
counties, and receiving
Swatara Creek Swatara Creek (nicknamed the Swatty) is a U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline dataThe National Map accessed August 8, 2011 tributary of the Susquehanna River in east-central Pennsylvania in the United Stat ...
from the northeast. It crosses into northern Maryland approximately northeast of
Baltimore Baltimore ( , locally: ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city prop ...

Baltimore
and is joined by Octoraro Creek from the northeast and Deer Creek from the northwest. The river enters the northern end of the
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zo ...
at Havre de Grace.
Concord Point Light Concord Point Light is a lighthouse in Havre de Grace, Maryland, Havre de Grace, Maryland, United States, overlooking the point where the Susquehanna River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, an area of increasing navigational traffic at the time it was ...
was built here in 1827 to accommodate the increasing navigational traffic.


Etymology

"Susquehanna" comes from the Lenape (Delaware) word ''siskëwahane'' meaning "Muddy River". Alternatively, it comes from the Len'api term ''Sisa'we'hak'hanna'', which means "Oyster River." Oyster beds were widespread in the bay near the mouth of the river, which the Lenape farmed. They left oyster shell
middens A midden (also kitchen midden or shell heap) is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone A bone is a rigid tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together carr ...
at their villages. The Len'api were an Algonquian-speaking Native American people who had communities ranging from coastal Connecticut through New York and Long Island, and further south into New Jersey and Delaware in the mid-Atlantic area. Their settlements in Pennsylvania included ''Con'esto'ga'' ("Roof-place" or "town," modern Washington Boro, Lancaster County), also called ''Ka'ot'sch'ie'ra'' ("Place-crawfish," modern Chickisalunga, Lancaster County), or ''Gasch'guch'sa'' ("Great-fall-in-river," modern Conewago Falls, Lancaster County). They were called ''Minquas'' ("quite different"), or ''Sisa'we'hak'hanna'lenno'wak'' ("Oyster-river-people") by others. The ''Len'api'' also called the area ''Sisa'we'hak'hanna'unk'' ("Oyster-river-place"). Peoples of the mid-Atlantic Coast included coastal peoples who spoke
Algonquian languages The Algonquian languages ( or ; also Algonkian) are a subfamily of American indigenous languages that include most languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically simi ...
, such as the Len'api (whose bands spoke three dialects of Lenape), and
Iroquoian languages The Iroquoian languages are a language family of indigenous peoples of North America The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the inhabitants of the Americas before the arrival of the European colonization of the Americas, European settler ...

Iroquoian languages
-speaking peoples of the interior, such as the Eroni and the Five Nations of the
Iroquois League The Iroquois ( or ) or Haudenosaunee (; "People of the Longhouse") are an indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous pe ...
, or ''
Haudenosaunee The Iroquois ( or ) or Haudenosaunee (; "People of the Longhouse") are an indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous pe ...
''. The English of Pennsylvania referred to the Eroni people of Conestoga as "Susquehannocks" or "Susquehannock Indians," a name derived from the Lenape term.Zeisberger, David. ''Indian Dictionary: English, German, Iroquois—The Onondaga and Algonquin—The Delaware''. Harvard University Press, 1887. , p. 141. In addition,
John Smith of Jamestown John Smith (baptized 6 January 1580 – 21 June 1631) was an English soldier, explorer, colonial governor, Admiral of New England, and author. He played an important role in the establishment of the colony at Jamestown, Virginia, the first per ...
, Virginia, labeled their settlement as ''"Sasquesahanough"'' on his 1612 map when he explored the upper
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zo ...
area. In Virginia and other southern colonies,
Siouan Siouan or Siouan–Catawban is a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with ...
-speaking tribes constituted a third major language family, with their peoples occupying much of the middle areas of the interior. Iroquoian speakers, such as the
Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi or Anigiduwagi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands, ...

Cherokee
and
Tuscarora people The Tuscarora (in Tuscarora ''Skarù:ręˀ'', "hemp gatherers" or "Shirt-Wearing People") are a Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South ...
s, generally occupied areas to the interior near the Piedmont and foothills.


History

In 1615, the river was traversed by the French explorer Etienne Brule. In the 1670s the Conestoga, or
Susquehannock The Susquehannock people, also called the Conestoga by English settlers, are Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South A ...

Susquehannock
people, succumbed to Iroquois conquest by the powerful Five Nations of the
Iroquois League The Iroquois ( or ) or Haudenosaunee (; "People of the Longhouse") are an indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous pe ...
based in present-day New York, who wanted to control the fur trade with Europeans. The Susquehannock assimilated with the Iroquois. In the aftermath, the Iroquois resettled some of the semi-tributary
Lenape The Lenape (, , or Lenape ), also called the Leni Lenape, Lenni Lenape and Delaware people, are an indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands include Native American tribes The term ...
in this area, as it was near the western boundary of the Lenape's former territory, known as
Lenapehoking Lenapehoking is widely translated as 'homelands of the Lenape The Lenape (, , or Lenape ), also called the Leni Lenape, Lenni Lenape and Delaware people, are an indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the North ...

Lenapehoking
. The Susquehanna River has continued to play an important role throughout the
history of the United States The history of the United States began with the arrival of Native Americans in North America around 15,000 BC. Native American cultures in the United States, Numerous indigenous cultures formed, and many disappeared in the 16th century. Th ...
. In the 18th century,
William Penn William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) was an English writer A writer is a person who uses written words in different styles and techniques to communicate ideas. Writers produce different forms of literary art and creative wri ...

William Penn
, the founder of the
Pennsylvania Colony The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Colony, was a British North American colony founded by William Penn William Penn (14 October 1644 – 30 July 1718) was an English writer A writer is a person who uses writ ...
, negotiated with the Lenape to allow white settlement in the area between the
Delaware River The Delaware River is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its co ...

Delaware River
and the Susquehanna, which was part of Lenape territory. In late colonial times, the river became an increasingly important transportation corridor, used to ship
anthracite coal Anthracite, also known as hard coal, is a hard, compact variety of coal Coal is a combustible , Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , la ...
, discovered by
Necho Allen Necho may refer to: * Necho I Menkheperre Necho I (Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian cult ...
, from its upper reaches in the mountains to the markets downriver. In 1779 during the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonies, thirteen American colonies of British America in Continental Congress ...
, General
James Clinton Major General James Clinton (August 9, 1736 – September 22, 1812) was an American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initia ...
led an expedition down the Susquehanna from its headwaters. His party had made the upper portion navigable by damming the river's source at Otsego Lake, allowing the lake's level to rise, and then destroying the dam and flooding the river in order for his flotilla to travel for miles downstream.
James Fenimore Cooper James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851) was an American writer of the first half of the 19th century. His historical romances depicting colonist and Indigenous characters from the 17th to the 19th centuries created a ...

James Fenimore Cooper
described this event in the introduction to his historical novel, '' The Pioneers'' (1823). At
Athens, Pennsylvania Athens is a borough in Bradford County, Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connec ...

Athens, Pennsylvania
, then known as Tioga or "Tioga Point", Clinton met with General John Sullivan and his forces, who had marched from
Easton, Pennsylvania Easton is a city in and the county seat of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, United States. The city's population was 26,800 as of the 2010 census. Easton is located at the confluence of the Delaware River and the Lehigh River, roughly north of ...
. Together on August 29, they defeated the
Tories A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of Traditionalist conservatism, traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English cul ...
and warriors of allied Iroquois bands at the
Battle of Newtown The Battle of Newtown (August 29, 1779) was a major battle of the Sullivan Expedition Image:Sullivan Expedition Commemorative Plaque in Lodi, New York.JPG, Commemorative plaque of the Sullivan Expedition in Lodi, New York The 1779 Sullivan Expe ...
(near present-day
Elmira, New York Elmira () is the largest Administrative divisions of New York#City, city and the county seat of Chemung County, New York, Chemung County, New York (state), New York, United States. It is the principal city of the Elmira, New York, metropolitan ...
). This was part of what was known as the "Sullivan-Clinton Campaign" or the "
Sullivan Expedition The 1779 Sullivan Expedition, also known as the Sullivan-Clinton Expedition and Sullivan Campaign was a military campaign A military campaign is large-scale long-duration significant military strategy Military strategy is a set of ideas impl ...
". They swept through western New York, dominated by the
Seneca people The Seneca () ( see, Onödowáʼga:, "Great Hill People") are a group of Indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people ...
, destroying more than 40 Seneca villages, as well as the stores of crops the people had set aside for winter. Many of the Iroquois left New York and went to Canada as refugees; casualties from exposure and starvation were high that winter. Following the United States gaining independence in the Revolutionary War, in 1790 Colonel ,
Samuel Maclay Samuel Maclay (June 17, 1741October 5, 1811) was an United States, American surveyor, farmer, and politician from Union County, Pennsylvania. He served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, state legislature and represented Pennsylvania in ...
and John Adlum were commissioned by the
Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was the collective directorial executive branch of the Pennsylvania State government between 1777 and 1790. It was headed by a president and a vice president (analogous to a gover ...
to survey the headwaters of the Susquehanna river. They were to explore a route for a passage to connect the West Branch with the waters of the
Allegheny River The Allegheny River ( ) is a long headwater stream of the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania and New York (state), New York, United States. The Allegheny River runs from its headwaters just below the middle of Pennsylvania's northern border nor ...
, which flowed to Pittsburgh and the Ohio River. In 1792, the Union Canal was proposed in order to link the Susquehanna and the Delaware rivers in Pennsylvania along Swatara and Tulpehocken creeks. In the 19th century, many industrial centers developed along the Susquehanna, using its water power to drive mills and coal machinery, to cool machines, and as a waterway for the transport of raw and manufactured goods. Based on colonial charters, both Pennsylvania and
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
claimed land in the
Wyoming Valley The Wyoming Valley is a historic industrialized region of Northeastern Pennsylvania Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) is a geographic region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geogra ...
along the Susquehanna. Connecticut founded
Westmoreland CountyWestmoreland County may refer to: ;In Australia: * Westmoreland County, New South Wales * the former name of Westmoreland Land District, Tasmania, Australia ;In Canada: *Westmorland County, New Brunswick ;In the United Kingdom * The county of West ...
here and defended its claim in the Pennamite Wars. Under federal arbitration, eventually the state ceded this territory to Pennsylvania. In the 1790s English
Lake Poets The Lake Poets were a group of English poets who all lived in the Lake District of England, United Kingdom, in the first half of the nineteenth century. As a group, they followed no single "school" of thought or literary practice then known. They w ...
Robert Southey Robert Southey ( or ; 12 August 1774 – 21 March 1843) was an English poet of the Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** ...

Robert Southey
,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge Samuel Taylor Coleridge (; 21 October 177225 July 1834) was an , , and who, with his friend , was a founder of the in England and a member of the . He also shared volumes and collaborated with , , and . He wrote the poems ' and ', as well ...

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
, and
Robert Lovell Robert Lovell (1771–1796) was an English poet. Life He was born in Bristol, the son of a wealthy Quaker and probably followed some business. He estranged himself from his original circle by marrying, in 1794, Mary Fricker, a girl of much beaut ...
formulated the "Pantisocracy Plan" to marry three sisters and move to the banks of the Susquehanna River to start a socialist experiment. They made the marriages but Southey moved to
Lisbon, Portugal Lisbon (; pt, Lisboa ) is the capital and the largest city of Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political e ...

Lisbon, Portugal
to visit an uncle, and they abandoned the plan to move to the United States. In 1833 John B. Jervis began a canal system to extend the
Chenango River The Chenango River is a U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline dataThe National Map, accessed August 8, 2011 tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or ma ...

Chenango River
and connect the waters of the Susquehanna from Chenango Point to the
Erie Canal The Erie Canal is a canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a nar ...

Erie Canal
, which ran through the Mohawk Valley of New York, ultimately connecting with
Lake Erie Lake Erie (; french: Lac Érié) is the fourth largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes in North America and the eleventh-largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and theref ...

Lake Erie
through the Wood Canal. In October 1836, water from the Susquehanna was connected to the Erie Canal at
Utica, New York Utica () is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defi ...
. Water travel was the main form of transportation during that era. The Erie Canal dramatically expanded trade between communities around the Great Lakes and markets in New York and Pennsylvania. With the expansion of construction of
railroad Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional p ...

railroad
lines, canal-transport became unprofitable, as it could not compete in speed or flexibility.Chenango, Whitford. http://www.mikalac.com/tech/tra/chenango.html Boats had to climb a net height of between basins, requiring the use of more than 100 water locks, which were too expensive to be maintained under the new competition. The Susquehanna River figures in the history of the
Latter Day Saint movement The Latter Day Saint movement (also called the LDS movement, LDS restorationist movement, or Smith–Rigdon movement) is the collection of independent church groups that trace their origins to a Christianity, Christian Restorationism, Restora ...
. It holds that
Joseph Smith Joseph Smith Jr. (December 23, 1805June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism Mormonism is the religious tradition and theology of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationism, Restorationist Christian ...
and
Oliver Cowdery Oliver H. P. Cowdery (October 3, 1806 – March 3, 1850) was, with Joseph Smith Joseph Smith Jr. (December 23, 1805June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement. When he was 24, ...
received the priesthood from heavenly beings at a site along the Susquehanna and performed their first baptisms of Latter Day Saints in the North Branch of the river. Smith and Cowdery said that they were visited on May 15, 1829, by the resurrected
John the Baptist John the Baptist ''Yohanān HaMatbil''; la, Ioannes Baptista; grc-gre, Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής, ''Iōánnēs ho baptistḗs'' or , ''Iōánnēs ho baptízōn'', or , ''Iōánnēs ho pródromos'';Wetterau, Bruce. ''World history' ...

John the Baptist
and given the Aaronic priesthood. Following his visit, Smith and Cowdery baptized each other in the river. Later that year, they said they were visited near the river by the apostles
Peter Peter may refer to: People * List of people named Peter, a list of people and fictional characters with the given name * Peter (given name) ** Saint Peter (died 60s), apostle of Jesus, leader of the early Christian Church * Peter (surname), a sur ...

Peter
,
James James is a common English language surname and given name: *James (name), the typically masculine first name James * James (surname), various people with the last name James James or James City may also refer to: People * King James (disambiguati ...
and
John John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) * John (surname), including a list of people who have the name John John may also refer to: New Testament Works ...
. Both events took place in unspecified locations near the river's shore in
Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania Susquehanna County is a county A county is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interact ...
. During the
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publis ...
's 1863 , Union
Major General Major general (abbreviated MG, maj. gen. and similar) is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparent confusion of a lie ...

Major General
, commander of the
Department of the Susquehanna The Department of the Susquehanna was a military department created by the United States War Department The United States Department of War, also called the War Department (and occasionally War Office in the early years), was the United States Ca ...
, resolved that
Robert E. Lee Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) was an American Confederate general best known for his service to the Confederate States of America The Confederate States of America (CSA), commonly referred to as the Co ...

Robert E. Lee
's
Confederate Confederacy may refer to: A confederation, an association of sovereign states or communities. Examples include: * Battle of the Trench, Confederate tribes * Confederate States of America, a confederation of secessionist American states that existed ...
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, Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. It was also the primary command structure of the Depart ...
would not cross the Susquehanna. He positioned
militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-b ...
units under Maj. Granville Haller to protect key bridges in Harrisburg and Wrightsville, as well as nearby fords. Confederate forces reached the river at several locations in
Cumberland Cumberland ( ) is a historic counties of England, historic county of North West England that had an administrative function from the 12th century until 1974. It is bordered by the historic counties of Northumberland to the northeast, County Dur ...
and
York York is a cathedral city City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United ...
counties. In 1972 the remnants of
Hurricane Agnes Hurricane Agnes was the costliest hurricane to hit the United States at the time, causing an estimated $2.1 billion in damage. The hurricane's death toll was 128. The effects of Agnes were widespread, from the Caribbean to Canada, with mu ...

Hurricane Agnes
stalled over the New York-Pennsylvania border, dropping as much as 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 ( or ) is a city in the U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its wit ...
, was among the hardest-hit communities and the capital Harrisburg was flooded. The
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zo ...
received so much fresh water that it altered the ecosystem, killing much of the marine life that depended on saltwater. The Mid-Atlantic Flood of June 2006, caused by a stalled jet stream-driven storm system, affected portions of the river system. The worst affected area was
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, where record-setting flood levels forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. In September 2011 the Susquehanna River and its communities were hit by
Tropical Storm Lee The name Lee has been used for seven tropical cyclones worldwide. In the Atlantic, it replaced the name ''Hurricane Lenny, Lenny. In the Atlantic: * Tropical Storm Lee (2005), a short-lived, minimal tropical storm * Tropical Storm Lee (2011), a str ...
, which caused the worst flooding since Agnes in 1972.


Bridges, ferries, canals and dams

The Susquehanna River is important in the transportation history of the United States. Before the Port Deposit Bridge opened in 1818, the river formed a barrier between the northern and southern states, as it could be crossed only by ferry. 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 high waters of the spring thaws, nothing could move up. The Susquehanna was improved by navigations throughout the 1820s and 1830s as the Pennsylvania Canal. Together with facilities of the Allegheny Portage Railroad, loaded barges were transferred from the canal and hoisted across the ridge, mountain ridge into the Pittsburgh area with access to the Monongahela River, Monongahela,
Allegheny River The Allegheny River ( ) is a long headwater stream of the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania and New York (state), New York, United States. The Allegheny River runs from its headwaters just below the middle of Pennsylvania's northern border nor ...
s and their confluence into the Ohio River flowing southwest towards the Mississippi River. The Union Canal was completed in 1828 to connect the Schuylkill River (flowing southeast towards the
Delaware River The Delaware River is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its co ...

Delaware River
at Philadelphia) at Reading, Pennsylvania, Reading westwards to the Susquehanna River above the state capital of
Harrisburg Harrisburg ( ; Pennsylvania German language, Pennsylvania German: ''Harrisbarrig'') is the capital city of the Pennsylvania, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and the county seat of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Dauphin Count ...
. Competition from faster transport via the rail freight transport, railroad industry by the 1850s resulted in reducing the reliance on the river for transport.Paddle the Susquehanna
, accessed September 10, 2011.
Two canal systems were constructed on the lower Susquehanna to bypass the rapids. The first was the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal#Susquehanna Canal, 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. The canals required dams to provide canal water and navigation pools. As the industrial age progressed, bridges replaced ferries, and railroads replaced canals. The railroads were often constructed on top of the canal right-of-way along the river. Many canal remnants can be seen; for example, in
Havre de Grace, Maryland Havre de Grace (), abbreviated HdG, is a city in Harford County, Maryland, Harford County, Maryland, United States, situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay. It is named after the port city of Le Havre, Franc ...
, 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, of privately funded canals, and of canals in the New York system. Today 200 bridges cross the Susquehanna. The Rockville Bridge, which crosses the river from
Harrisburg Harrisburg ( ; Pennsylvania German language, Pennsylvania German: ''Harrisbarrig'') is the capital city of the Pennsylvania, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and the county seat of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Dauphin Count ...
to Marysville, Pennsylvania, is the longest stone masonry arch bridge in the world. It was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1902, replacing an earlier iron bridge. Two seasonal ferries operate across the Susquehanna. The Millersburg Ferry at Millersburg, Pennsylvania, is a practical ferry for up to four vehicles and 50 passengers, while the ''Pride of the Susquehanna'', based at Harrisburg, provides a passenger-only pleasure cruise. Most of the canals have been filled in or are partially preserved as a part of historical parks. Dams generally are used to generate power or to provide lakes for recreation.


Environmental threats

The environmental group American Rivers named the Susquehanna "America's Most Endangered River for 2005" because of the excessive water pollution, pollution it receives. Most of the pollution in the river is caused by excess animal manure from farming, agricultural surface runoff, runoff, urban runoff, urban and suburban stormwater runoff, and raw or inadequately treated sanitary sewer overflow, sewage. In 2003 the river contributed 50% of the freshwater, 44% of the nitrogen, 21% of the phosphorus, and 21% of the sediment flowing into the
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zo ...
. It was designated as one of 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. Another environmental concern is radioactivity released during the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. However, extensive radionuclide studies over a 25-year period from 1979 through 2003, confirm that the Three Mile Island accident has not resulted in any harmful radiation effects. The areas in and along a 262-km length of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania were monitored for the presence of radioactive materials. This study began two months after the 1979 Three Mile Island (TMI) partial reactor meltdown; it spanned the next 25 years. Monitoring points included stations at the PPL Susquehanna and TMI nuclear power plants. Monthly gamma measurements documented concentrations of radionuclides from natural and anthropogenic sources. During this study, various series of gamma-emitting radionuclide concentration measurements were made in many general categories of animals, plants, and other inorganic matter, both within and near the river. Sampling began in 1979 before the first start-up of the PPL Susquehanna power plant. Although all species were not continuously monitored for the entire period, an extensive database was compiled. In 1986, the ongoing measurements detected fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear accident. These data may be used in support of dose or environmental transport calculations. The remaining reactor at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station was shut down in 2019. In 2015, a smallmouth bass with a rare, cancerous tumor was caught from the river, raising renewed concerns about toxic materials and water pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency reported, "we do not have sufficient data at this time to scientifically support listing the main stem of the Susquehanna as Total maximum daily load#State inventories, impaired."


Recreation

The Susquehanna River has attracted boaters who watch or fish for its migratory species. Many tourists and local residents use the Susquehanna in the summer for recreation purposes such as kayaking, canoeing, and motor-boating. Due to the high volume of Smallmouth bass in the river, it is the host of numerous bass fishing tournaments each year and is regarded by many as one of the premier bass fishing rivers in North America. Canoe races are held annually on various sections of the river, such as the amateur race held in Oneonta, New York. Susquehanna rowing and paddling have a long history. Starting in 1874, rowers from Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania, raced men from Sunbury, Pennsylvania, Sunbury. The General Clinton Canoe Regatta, a flat-water race, takes place each year in Bainbridge, New York, on Memorial Day weekend. Binghamton University Crew and Hiawatha Island Boat Club are also located on the river, in the Southern Tier of New York.


See also


References


Further reading

*


External links


U.S. Geological Survey: PA stream gaging stations

Susquehanna River Basin Commission

American Rivers article: ''Susquehanna River "Most Endangered"''



Hiawatha Island Boat Club – Owego, NY

Binghamton University Crew – Binghamton, NY
{{Authority control Susquehanna River, Rivers of Otsego County, New York Rivers of Pennsylvania Rivers of Maryland Rivers of New York (state) American Heritage Rivers Tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay Environment of the Mid-Atlantic states Allegheny Plateau Rivers of Broome County, New York Rivers of York County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Perry County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Juniata County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Snyder County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Montour County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Columbia County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Wyoming County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Bradford County, Pennsylvania Rivers of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania Significant places in Mormonism Latter Day Saint movement in New York (state) Latter Day Saint movement in Pennsylvania