Regional Heritage & History

The rich history of Columbia & Montour counties is filled with stories that span generations. From the first settlers and local Native American tribes to the golden days of industry and the onward march of community progress, the memories contained within our counties have helped shape the region into the cultural gem that it is today.

The river towns of Danville, Bloomsburg, and Berwick all contain Historical Societies that exist to preserve the area’s important past for future generations. History lovers will delight in spending a day browsing the extensive and educational collections of historical documents, records, and files. Other visitors will seek to trace genealogies, read up on archived newspaper articles, or study old photos. Several area museums and historical homes provide insight into early life in the counties, and make for a great rainy day activity. Intrepid visitors in search of a history lesson might spend a day or weekend traversing the back roads in hopes of discovering some of the county’s historical treasures for themselves.

At 444 miles, the mighty Susquehanna is one of the longest rivers on the east coast. It derives its name from one of the area’s early Native American inhabitants – the warlike Susquehannock tribe. The Susquehanna River is also one of the oldest rivers in the world. Its origins trace back over 300 million years to the Paleozoic Era – pre-dating even the Appalachian Mountain range. The North Branch of the river flows directly through both Columbia & Montour counties. The Susquehanna River plays an important role in the past, present, and future of our counties, and provides countless recreation opportunities for visitors.

photo courtesy of the Berwick Historical Society

Danville’s heritage includes a documented role in the westward expansion of America and indelible ties to the growth of the railroad industry. For more than a century, the town of Bloomsburg has held the distinction of being the only incorporated town in Pennsylvania. In the heart of the Fishing Creek Valley, Benton’s past is deeply rooted in rural successes. One of the first settlers in the area built up an iconic whiskey brand, and lumber and tanning industries drove community growth during the mid-1800s. Berwick’s story centers around its reputation in industry, most notably the production of over 15,000 tanks at the American Car and Foundry for the World War II effort.

For more information and in-depth stories about the main towns in Columbia & Montour counties, visit our individual Benton Area, Berwick Area, Bloomsburg Area, and Danville Area pages.

We are excited to be able to share our counties’ stories, and look forward to helping you explore our local history! Stop at our Welcome Center to get your journey started. Be sure to pick up our historical town walking tour brochures and our classic covered bridge driving tour.

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