Online voting remains open until Jan. 22 for the 2021 Pennsylvania River of the Year, and the Endless Mountain Heritage Region’s Cain Chamberlin is encouraging everyone to cast a vote for the Tunkhannock Creek.
“We have nominated the Tunkhannock the past two years, and this is the first time we’ve been able to get it in as a finalist,” he said. “We are very excited about that.”
The Tunkhannock is home to a number of festivals and other events typically each year, something Chamberlin feels provides a valuable resource when it comes to raising awareness.
“We would like to team up with some of these local businesses and organizations to hose some nice events that bring more attention to the watershed,” he said. “This would include some benefit paddles along the Tunkhannock for groups such as Countryside Conservancy which strives to protect our resources. We’d also like to team up with Patriots Cove on the Bowmans Creek which is a tributary of the Tunkhannock, and hold an event where veterans and first responders who have been injured in the line of duty can come out and enjoy the creek for all its splendor.”
The other four finalists for the 2021 River of the Year include the Lehigh River in eastern Pennsylvania along with the Shenango River, Buffalo Creek and Loyalhanna Creek in the Ohio River watershed along the western portion of the state.
The Tunkhannock Creek is a 42-mile tributary of the Susquehanna River that begins in Jackson Township, Susquehanna County, and flows to Tunkhannock Borough in Wyoming County, where it empties into the Susquehanna’s North Branch.
The Tunkhannock Creek has 17 different tributaries, giving merit to the English translation of the Lenni-Lenape word “Tunkhannock” that has often been said to be, “meeting of the waters.” A number of tourist attractions and lodging facilities are situated along the creek including the Shadowbrook Inn & Resort, Lazy Brook Park, Cozy Creek Campground, Shady Rest Campground, and, most notably, the historic and picturesque 2,400-foot long Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct, locally known as the Nicholson Bridge. This 240-foot tall concrete deck arch bridge on the Norfolk Southern Railway Sunbury Line was once considered the largest concrete structure in the world when its construction was completed by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W) in 1915.
When Tunkhannock Creek is at its normal water flow levels, it is widely utilized for outdoor recreational activities like fishing, swimming and paddling as well as the backdrop for a number of creek side events like bluegrass festivals, wine festivals, community picnics and competitive running events.
Since the start of voting three weeks ago, there have been a few social media posts from residents along the creek that have expressed apprehension about voting for the Tunkhannock for fear that the additional attention it would receive from winning may lead to some negative impacts.
Chamberlin suggests the benefits would far outweigh any potential concerns.
“The most important thing to realize is that if we get this designation, the $10,000 check will help toward all our conservation efforts. If people really care about the creek, they would certainly want those conservation efforts to move forward,” he said. “Getting this, sure, would bring more attention to the creek and some increased recreation, but I think it’s important to realize that the more that people use it and the more people are aware of it, the better off it’s going to be.
“We have all these incredible organizations like the conservation district and Countryside Conservancy working hard to preserve this stream and make it as sustainable as possible. We certainly don’t want a bunch of foreign objects getting out into the creek and polluting. We don’t want it jumping the berm and eroding away. We want to maintain that beauty that it has. So, this is a great way to ensure that it has a sustainable future.”
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.