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11.03.2016

Wyalusing Rocks Overlook: Wyalusing, Susquehanna River, Bradford County, PA

Wyalusing Rocks, also known as Prayer Rocks, has lead people to it for as long as we have documented history. It was an important point in native american cultures for it was a high point overlooking a stunning horseshoe bend in the Susquehanna, and a high point from which signals from Indian tribes could be seen for miles. The place marked the intersection of the Warriors Path that lead north to Binghamton to as far as the Carolinas to the South, and the Wyalusing Path that lead to Shamokin. The Great Warrior Path would be utilized during General Sullivan's scorched earth campaign during the American Revolution against the tribes of the Finger Lakes region of New York, a human disaster of tremendous proportions. All in all, this spot is extremely historic for a multitude of reasons throughout many periods of human history in North America.
Wyalusing Rocks has remained an extremely important historic spot throughout all periods of human history in North America.

A great summary of the Native American meaning of the spot comes from the following excerpt from the website of the Eastern Delaware Nations.

"Wyalusing is said to refer to "where there is an old man." The "ng" sound refers to a dwelling. The word is believed to refer to a holy or medicine man who once lived here. Early spellings of Wyalusing dating back to the 1700's include: Machachlosung, Wuihaloosing, Mockocklocking, Monmuchlooson, Machmihilusing, Ch’wilihlusing, and Wilhilusing. 

The earliest known settlers in the region were Susquhannock (also known as Andastes) Indians. Their palisaded town Gohontoto was destroyed by the Iroquois in 1650. Later, the Tuscarora, a tribe of the Iroquois Six Nations, and Monsee Delaware occupied the region, followed by Moravians from Germany who founded a mission town here in 1763. This location is marked by an Oblisk erected by members of the Moravian Historical Society in June 1871."

Two intersecting indian paths, camptown races, go to that history page of bradford county in bookmarks. Match to postcard from sullivan trail
Historic sign caption: "Warrior's Path: A great Indian Highway from Six Nations country, New York, to the Catawba country in the Carolinas. It made its way through the Allegheny Mountains by following the Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys.
The great importance of the history of this location is only exceeded by its sheer natural beauty. The autumn colors are especially stunning to take in at this overlook.  
Remember this image!
This postcard image dates back to 1921 and is part of my personal collection. This location has remained a beautiful destination in the age of the automobile, with the historic and scenic Route 6/Grand Army of the Republic Highway, one of the first coast-to-coast highway networks and the longest continuous road in the United States, running through the location of the site. In the early times of the age of the automobile, the route was designated as Sullivan Trail, in commemoration of the devastating military campaign that wiped out tribes in the Finger Lakes region. The Sullivan Trail name still remains in certain areas, though this northern section of the highway no longer carries that designation.

Additionally, it is pretty likely that horse races from nearby Camptown to Wyalusing were likely the inspiration for Camptown Races, Stephen Foster's famed and troubling minstrel song that has lived on with countless different adaptations since, including in Looney Toons episodes and many different things within pop culture. 
This route has been noted for its beauty and seemingly secluded nature. In the famous On the Road, by famous beat writer Jack Kerouac, protagonist Sal Paradise asked about hitchhiking through Pennsylvania on Route 6, but was told to take the "Pittsburgh route," aka the PA Turnpike, for it would "have more traffic" that would he would be able to catch a ride with. 
The old Lehigh Valley Railroad, running riverside on the Susquehanna. This line ran from New York City through New Jersey to the Lehigh Valley, up to the Finger Lakes Region, and to Buffalo. It was a core artery for coal deliveries and the movement of goods from places that were once key industrial areas.
Wyalusing Rocks is a formation of flat lying sandstones and siltstones that perched atop a high cliff above a horseshoe bend in the Susquehanna. They create an overlook platform of sorts that provide a stunning view. 
The stones are alternate with red and green colors and are part of the Catskill Formation
To me, I personify the little trees that grow out of formations like this with having great determination. I have no idea of what the age of this tree is, but tree growth is stunted in habitats like this, where the soils are at a minimum.
Author Phillip Van Doren Stern, author of the original story of It's a Wonderful Life was also born in this location, something that I think is a sign of how positively inspirational this area can be.
This is another from my same set of 1921 postcards. It looks like it could be a match in reverse. I love those old concrete highways. It looks like it was the same size as the current shoulder. 

It seems that this beautiful location is a magnet for American history, both good and bad. There is something special about this place and it is well worth checking out. 

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