You are also welcome to join SWA on interactive sites:
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It's all about Clean Water. Post your pictures of our events, water conservation, floods, pollution.
Share your memories about the Swatara.... Our projects and areas of
interest include the
Bordner Cabin, Eagle Scout Projects, PA Conservation Corps,
Swatara State Park, Swatara River, Swatara Sojourn, Swatara
Water Trail, Tenaska, Swatara Watershed Park, and
Planning a Swatara
Updated Map swatara_watertrail
Public access points about every
For comparison, when the
Harpers gauge at our
launch @ 1929 Blacks Bridge Road, Annville reads the following
5.5’, & the
Road to site #1 is almost covered, not accessible
and partly flooded;
7’ our ramp is covered to
the top gravel border;
9’ the swell puts water onto sites 1-4 & site 8;
10.56', only sites 26-35 do not flood.
National Weather Service provides forecasts for Harper's
and Hershey gauges. Check the gauge nearest your start point. Reschedule
if experienced, but water is rising between
3.5' & 4' or below .4'. Kayaks may float a bit
lower. Beginners should reschedule at 2.2' deep.
|Use caution at dams: With groups, avoid
low-head dam in Jonestown. Uneven portage on left bank, which disappears
into tree line in high water. Hershey dam portage is also
on the left. Long, but flat, mowed route. Take out at
feeder stream on left before warning sign.|
|U-Tow Canoes Available
Canoe Use agreement:
CANOE USE CONTRACT.pdf
Seasonal Primitive Camping
Fishing, hiking, picnicking
Visit the Bordner Cabin in Swatara
Bordner Cabin Drive
thru Swatara State Park 9AM-3PM the 2nd Fri & Sat monthly & 4th Fri & Sat
Mar, Apr, Sep & Oct.
Most recent Newsletter:
2017 Swatara News .pub.pdf
About the Swatara Watershed
Rivers Conservation Plan
Swatara on Great Nonprofits:
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Last Updated: Monday, December 06, 2004 - 12:21:43 PM EST
Book shares Swatara
For The Daily News
LICKDALE -- Contributors to "Envisioning an Environmental Legacy for the
Swatara," an oral history project, gathered yesterday at Twin Grove Park to
sign copies of the new 182-page book.
A project of the Swatara Creek Watershed Association, the book features
articles on the American eel, history of the Swatara Creek region, mining,
agriculture, recreation and Hurricane Agnes, and abstracts from interviews
with 65 contributors who share their memories of the area. The book includes
photos, maps and recipes for preparing eels.
The project began as a suggestion of Cannon Valley Institute, West
Virginia, which provided camcorders, recorders and training for 12
interviewers and photographers, who sought out area residents and former
residents who had something to tell about life along the Swatara Creek and
its tributaries, said county Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, president of the
watershed association and editor of the book.
The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network also sponsored the project. The book,
which cost $16,000 to print, is dedicated to the sponsors and to Fort
Indiantown Gap for its technical assistance.
DVDs of complete interviews will be placed in the historical societies in
Lebanon, Pine Grove and Derry Township, Litz said.
Among the contributors of oral data was Raymond J. Swingholm, Annville,
who described a day in the 1930s when he set out from Hebron in South
Lebanon, where he resided at the time, to follow the Quittapahilla Creek to
Valley Glenn, where it empties into the Swatara Creek.
The Swatara Creek runs about 100 miles as it drains parts of Schuylkill,
Lebanon, Berks and Dauphin counties on the way to the Susquehanna River at
Middletown. Its main tributaries are the Quittapahilla, Little Swatara and
In Craig Morgan's interview, the Pine Grove resident explains the effect
of cattle and dairy farms on the creek and steps that have been taken to
improve its banks.
Verna Miller, Jonestown, recalled the events associated with a store she
and her husband, Harold, ran for 35 years at the west end of Fort Indiantown
And James Logan, Lebanon, recalled swimming in the Swatara and expressed
his continuing interest in seeking wild flowers and birds in Swatara State
Litz said the book will be offered as an incentive to increase membership
in the watershed association. An annual $20 membership will get the
applicant an unsigned book. Those signing up for life membership at $200
will get a signed book, a compact disc of the book for reading on computers
and a compact disc containing an abbreviated version of the book for
listening. Gordon Weise, a newscaster with WLBR, will record the book, she
Litz said that eventually the book will find its way into the hands of
every elected official in the region with the hope that it will be used as a
planning tool. Copies also will be placed in local libraries.
The watershed association, which currently has more than 100 members, is
dedicated to clean water through education, conservation and good
stewardship of the environment.
The Daily News (Editorial 12/12/04)
Oh, if the Swatara Creek could speak, what stories it could tell
of animals great and small; native Americans living by its flowing
waters; the coming of the pioneers and the first Pennsylvania Dutch
settlers to live beside it; the ascendance of industry; the years of
coal mining, the Union Canal and local rail traffic; the sad decades
of polluted illness; and, more recently and more happily, decades of
work by dedicated individuals to undo some of the harm earlier done.
The Swattie can't speak, but there are many who can speak for it,
and they have done so with great nostalgia and great love for the
waterway that flows down through Swatara Gap and meanders across the
The project is EELS Envisioning an Environmental Legacy for the
Swatara and it is an overview of the watershed and, in great part,
an oral history with dozens of folks who have a connection with the
Swattie. It was organized by the Swatara Creek Watershed
Association, headed by Jo Ellen Litz, and it is a multimedia
First, there is the oversize softcover book, decorated with the
pictures of many local folks who were interviewed as part of the
companion oral-history project. Those oral histories were videotaped
and will provide a lasting testament of memory on behalf of the
waterway in the years to come.
Among those interviewed: State Sen. David J. Brightbill, who has
been an ardent supporter of the development of Swatara State Park
and in particular of construction of a long-long-long-awaited dam.
He retells a favorite story: How he and his father built a boat in
the basement of their home in the late 1960s with the intent of
sailing it on Swatara Lake. He's still awaiting his chance to ply
the waters, but the story is a good one, well-received whenever it's
Phil Feather, Annville attorney and former Lebanon County
Commissioner, talks of his "Swataree Safari," a three-hour innertube
float on the creek from Harpers to Blacks Bridge that's been held on
the Saturday after the Fourth of July for 20 years.
Ray Swingholm of Annville recalls catching eels but not eating
them and mudpuppies (foot-and-a-half-long salamanders) in the
Swattie in the 1930s.
Evelyn Isele of Jonestown does Swingholm one better, recalling
both catching and eating the freshwater eels.
The book is a fascinating look at what the Swatara Creek and its
watershed have meant to so many people for so many years. It is a
credit to the watershed association that it chose to undertake this
project, and we and all those who come after us should be grateful
that so many voices with such vast knowledge of the creek were still
here to be heard.
We recognize that there are many voices and many memories of the
Swattie that have been lost forever. While it may not do justice to
single out just one stilled voice, we do so in honor of Franklin
Meiser, who long held a vision for the improvement of the watershed
and who maintained that doing simple things like building
impoundments and letting the Swattie's water wash over a limestone
field would do great things toward restoration of the creek. His
voice is not included in this project, though his work lives on in
the memories of many who did speak for the project.
Thanks again to the watershed
association for the loving craft by which they brought this project
To join the association, send a check for $20 made payable to SWA to
2302 Guilford St., Lebanon, PA 17046. For mailing of an EELS book, add $4
shipping and handling, for a total of $24. More information is available at
Return to the SWA home page