Area & Links

Small town graciousness, recreational abundance

The central Susquehanna Valley blends rustic charm and small-town graciousness with unusual cultural and educational abundance.


The center for government and commerce in Columbia County is Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania's only incorporated town. Laid out in 1802, the community grew rapidly throughout the nineteenth century as the center of a flourishing local iron industry. Dozens of Bloomsburg's downtown homes and shops were renovated in the 1980s as part of the national Main Street Program. Today, most of Bloomsburg's downtown area is designated as a National Historic District.

Following the Susquehanna River 12 miles upstream, you come upon the borough of Berwick, known throughout the nation for turning out powerhouse high school football teams. Berwick was the first community laid out in Columbia County. Surveyed and mapped in 1786, the community prospered throughout the nineteenth century through trade and industry.

Even older than Berwick is the nearby borough of Danville, the county seat for Montour County and the smallest county in the Commonwealth. Danville originated in 1774, when the first cabin was built on the north side of the Susquehanna.

Today, Danville is a community whose downtown is being transformed by the addition of small shops and boutiques. It is noted as the site of Geisinger Medical Center and headquarters for the Geisinger health care system, one of the nation's most respected health care organizations.

The commitment of residents in this Valley to their heritage is reflected nowhere more vividly than in the preservation of some two dozen covered bridges in the region (more than in any other similar-sized area in the country). Many of these bridges remain in daily use today.

Covered bridges and historic districts are just part of the central Susquehanna Valley's story. Today, because of the region's proximity to the major markets of the East Coast, and because it sits along major interstate transportation links, a number of businesses have been attracted to the region's industrial parks and distribution centers. Bloomsburg has become the region's commercial hub for shopping, fine dining and entertainment.


Diversity of activities

Whether it's outdoor sports or more cerebral activities, you'll find a rich and diverse menu of recreational activities close to home.

You can enjoy funnel cakes, pierogies and smoked sausage at the Bloomsburg Fair, the state's oldest (and largest) agricultural exposition, which attracts more than 600,000 people each September. Or take in the action of a frontier-style rodeo in nearby Benton. You can also visit a local farm for apple cider or an old-fashioned hayride.

How about playing a round of golf on one of the area's fine courses, and then taking in a performance at the renowned Alvina Krause Theatre, home of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE). BTE is one of the few professional repertory companies in the nation located outside a major metropolitan area.

Maybe the kids want to visit Knoebel's Groves, one of Pennsylvania's premier family amusement parks. Or hike along the trails at Rickett's Glen State Park, where white water cascades down Red Rock Mountain and a spectacular gorge sparkles with 22 waterfalls.

Just a bit further to the east, you'll find the attractions of the Poconos whose resorts offer ski trails that challenge the beginner and the expert alike. In summer, hiking trails and water slides transform the romantic ambiance of the chalets into family recreation centers.


Educational and cultural opportunities

Nearby Colleges and Universities
institution / driving time (minutes)
Bucknell University 40
King's College 45
Lock Haven University 75
Lycoming College 45
Luzerne Community College 45
Pennsylvania College of Technology 45
Pennsylvania State University (Hazleton) 35
Pennsylvania State University (MAIN) 90
Susquehanna University 40
University of Scranton 60
Wilkes University 45

Bloomsburg University (one of the 14 schools in the Commonwealth's University System) enrolls about 7,500 graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of academic programs. Situated on a 173-acre campus, the university sponsors an annual Celebrity Artists Series as well as faculty recitals, art exhibits, concerts and lectures, many of which take place in the 1,900 seat Haas Auditorium or one of the smaller performance centers on the campus.

Within an hours drive are more than a dozen colleges and universities, each with its own artists' series and educational programs.