“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Milton in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

West Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail

West Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, August 22, 2015
1. West Branch Susquehanna River Water Trail Marker
Inscription. A journey down the West Branch tells the tale of lumbering in Pennsylvania, from the early lumber mills to today's sustainable forests. As you float downstream you will see the legacy of lumber; the "rafting points" used by river pilots to navigate the dangerous waters, abandoned railroads, and miles of renewable forest, If you listen carefully enough you may hear elk bugle, bald eagles screech, or the ghosts of log drivers and rafters calling to each other.

To safely assist you in your journey, consult the West Branch Susquehanna River Trail Map and Guide book. The Guide includes safety and route information, along with detailed maps showing the historic rafting points, natural resources, and recreational opportunities in each of the sections. The Guide is available from the Lumber Heritage Region at

For more recreation and visitor information contact the local county tourism offices:
Indiana County - -1-877-7INDIANA
Clearfield County - - 1-866-GOWILDS
Clinton County - 1-888-358-5466
Lycoming County - - 1-800-358-9900

Remember, rivers are unpredictable and can change at any time. Follow all water safety precautions and wear a personal flotation

West Branch Susquehanna River image. Click for full size.
By Beverly Pfingsten, August 22, 2015
2. West Branch Susquehanna River
devise at all times.

Pioneers of Logging
In the 1750s the first small scale lumbering began in Pennsylvania. These sawmills operated seasonally and supplied local neds, but also shipped wood down rivers and streams as lumber rafts.

Spars and Sticks
In the 1830s, sawmills along the West Branch were supplied by logs or "sticks", that were cut and floated downriver - either as part of a raft or as scattered logs in a "drive" that would be captured by a boom placed across the river. The straightest stock were used as masts, or "spars", in the Chesapeake Bay shipbuilding industry.

Bark Peelers and Lumber Barons
From 1864 to 1941 the logging railroad was the principal means of hauling timber. The railroads hauled mostly hemlock, which was used for leather tanning and lumber. Because of the efficiency of the railroads, Pennsylvania's forests were nearly cleared by the 1930s.

Forest Conservation
Decades of clearing forests eventually eroded soil, which increased sediments in the West Branch and downstream to the Chesapeake Bay. Efforts were made to control wildfires, erosion and the depletion of forest resources. The PA Bureau of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps had the largest roles in restoring and protecting the state's forests.

Second Forest and a Sustainable Approach
After World War II, Pennsylvania's "new" hardwood forests replaced the white pine and hemlock forests, and sustainable forestry practices emerged. Sustainable management keeps land in forest use, fosters cleaner rivers and more wildlife, and makes Pennsylvania the nation's leading producer of hardwoods, while over half of the state (17 million acres) remains forested.
Location. 40° 56.503′ N, 76° 51.918′ W. Marker is near Milton, Pennsylvania, in Northumberland County. Marker can be reached from Pennsylvania Route 405. Touch for map. Marker is .1 mile from PA 405 at a public boat landing. Marker is in this post office area: Milton PA 17847, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bucknell University (approx. 1.4 miles away); Robert Lowry (approx. 1.4 miles away); Underground Railroad (approx. 1 miles away); Ludwig Derr (approx. 1.6 miles away); General Tasker H. Bliss (approx. 1.8 miles away); Union County (approx. 1.8 miles away); a different marker also named Bucknell University (approx. 1.8 miles away); Lewisburg Cross-Cut Canal (approx. 1.9 miles away).
Categories. EnvironmentHorticulture & ForestryIndustry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels

Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 24, 2015, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 151 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 24, 2015, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.
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