$10

Lumbering and Rafting in the Susquehanna River Basin

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Columbia Crossing River Trails Center

41 Walnut Street

Columbia, PA 17512

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Lumbering and Rafting in the Susquehanna River Basin

This presentation by Steve Runkle of the Susquehanna River Basin Association chronicles logging, river transportation of lumber, and lumber milling from colonial times through the 19th Century. Take an imaginary 346-mile trip on a timber raft from Cherry Tree down the Susquehanna River all the way to tidewater at Port Deposit, Maryland. The last part of this voyage is on the historically treacherous lower Susquehanna River. The logging, log boom and drives, logging railroad, lumber milling, and tanning industry portion of the presentation focuses on the West Branch Susquehanna River watershed above Williamsport. Here were the richest timber resources of the Susquehanna Basin. The wanton harvest of these virgin timberlands made Williamsport the “Lumber Capital of the World” during the middle of the 19th Century. It also brought with it labor exploitation, environmental devastation, and catastrophic flooding. Through conservation and sustainable forestry management, the damages of the 19th Century have now been healed. In this presentation, get to know the “wood hicks”, rivermen, log drivers, boom rats, and industrialists that made the early “lumber boom” happen.

Steve is a retired Hydraulic Engineer and Engineering Supervisor formerly with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. He also has served as an independent contractor with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission in the field of water resources engineering. Steve’s engineering career spanned over 36 years.Steve has a keen interest in local history, the Revolutionary and Civil War, area canals, coal mining, lumbering and lumber rafting, and Indian tribes that once lived in the Susquehanna Basin. He is here as a volunteer with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s Public Information and Outreach Program to discuss today’s topic.

This lecture is part of the River Crossings lecture series by Susquehanna Heritage, the organization that manages the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center. Other topics explored in subsequent lectures include ferries, canals as well as the famous burning of the bridge during the Civil War. The series was designed to complement the exhibit River Crossings, which explores how people have arrives at or departed from Columbia by water. From dugout canoes to the Wright’s Ferry bridge, the exhibit’s panels, maps, and images explore the lower Susquehanna’s rich history. Each lecture will about an hour and dive more deeply into the history of river transportation. Doors will open at 6:00 pm allowing attendees to explore the exhibit and enjoy light refreshments before the lecture begins at 6:30 pm.

The cost for each unique presentation is $10 per/person. Seating is limited so advanced registration is required. Proceeds benefit the operations and programs of the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center.

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Columbia Crossing River Trails Center

41 Walnut Street

Columbia, PA 17512

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