Listed as a navigable river on maps as early as the 1700’s, the Swatara is part of the history of Pennsylvania. The banks of the Swatara have been home to frontier forts and underground railroad stops. Remnants of the 1791 Union Canal stretch 77 miles from Reading to Middletown along the Swatara, linking the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays through the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Rivers. The north portal of the canal has been restored, preserving the oldest hand dug tunnel in the US for future visitors. The Swatara Creek has served as a provider of food, water, transportation, energy, and recreation for generations of inhabitants. Conservation needs include protecting riparian buffers and floodplain protection. During Tropical Storm Lee, the Swatara rose to unprecedented levels, and many people lost their homes.
With 25 years of experience, the Swatara Creek Watershed Association has a history of delivering on promises. The organization has a track record of successful river cleanups, river stakeholder convening, and public education events. The Swatara Creek Watershed Association has been instrumental in the creation and promotion of the Swatara Water Trail.
If selected for River of the Year, the Swatara Creek Watershed Association will organize a diverse series of events to highlight the creek. These include the annual sojourn, additional paddling opportunities, an art show highlighting the creek, and events associated with Lebanon County’s 200th anniversary and the role that the Swatara has played in history.