by Caitlin Finnerty
January 10, 2012
A few miles outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania, stands the 240-foot-tall Tunkhannock Viaduct, a railroad bridge that held the record for the largest concrete bridge in the United States for more than half a century. Today, the structure still draws ooos and ahhs from passersby. But many of them don’t pay mind to the creek that runs below the bridge.
(Image courtesy jasonb42882/Flickr)
That waterway is Tunkhannock Creek, a 40-mile-long tributary of the North Branch Susquehanna River that runs parallel to Pennsylvania Route 92 in Wyoming and Monroe counties. Like many of the streams and rivers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, "Tunkhannock" has Native American origins. The Lenni-Lenape translations include "wilderness stream" and "meeting of the waters."
Although the industrial coal towns the creek bypasses may not fit a typical expectation of "wilderness," there are places where the Tunkhannock seems relatively remote. The creek is even becoming a whitewater rafting destination. Classified as a Class I-III by American Whitewater, Tunkhannock Creek offers the perfect experience for beginners.
If fishing is your thing, you'll want to check out the creek's East Branch (in Herrick Township) and South Branch (in Scott Township).
Rumors of a swimming hole on the creek near Factoryville sound like trip back in time. But be careful – we're not convinced this recreation area is on public property.
Hikers can sneak views of the creek on Choke Creek Trail, a 6-mile trek through blueberry bushes and the Lackawanna State Forest. The nearby Endless Mountain region is overflowing with recreational opportunities.
(Image courtesy katecav/Flickr)
The health of Tunkhannock Creek, however, remains questionable. Efforts to manage polluted stormwater runoff are attempting to keep up with the effects of sprawling development throughout the South Branch's 100-square-mile watershed.
More to see around Tunkhannock Creek:
- Endless Mountain Nature Center offers nature walks and preschool programs
- The Endless Mountain region is home to numerous waterfalls, some located along beautiful hiking trails
- The Countryside Conservancy has formed a South Branch of Tunkhannock Association to raise awareness in the community about the creek’s health. The Tobyhanna Creek/Tunkhannock Creek Watershed Association also works to protect this local waterway.