by Stephanie Smith
May 26, 2017
The Susquehanna River flows past Chickies Rock County Park in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, at sunset on May 16. Visitors to the roughly 400-acre park can take a short, half-mile hike to Chickies Rock, an overlook that towers 100 feet above the river and offers extensive views both upstream and downstream.
Chickies Rock is named after Chiques Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna that flows through the park. Despite their different spellings, the names “Chickies” and “Chiques” are pronounced the same, refer to the same area and are both found on roads, buildings and natural features throughout the region (at times causing confusion for non-locals).
The names are believed to come from a Susquehannock word meaning “place of crayfish,” which French and English settlers spelled as chiquesalunga or chickiswalungo. French explorers are believed to have arrived first, using the Chiques spelling; later, English settlers would use the Chickies spelling.
Manmade features like roads and buildings have tended to use the Chiques spelling, following in the footsteps of Chiques Church of the Brethren, which was founded in 1856. Natural areas like Chickies Rock, on the other hand, tend to use the alternate spelling. Until recently, Chiques Creek and its tributary, Little Chiques Creek, used the Chickies spelling as well. But in 2002, the Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance petitioned the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Board on Geographic Names to change the creek’s official spelling, citing their belief that the Chiques spelling predates Chickies.
No matter how you spell it, the park and surrounding area offer plenty of recreational opportunities for visitors. In addition to the Chickies Rock overlook, the area provides numerous trails and is home to a collection of historical features, including remnants of iron furnaces, rolling mills and trolley lines. The park also provides access to the Northwest Lancaster River Trail, a fourteen-mile paved trail that follows the Susquehanna River.
Learn more about Chickies Rock County Park.