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West Branch River

The West Branch of the Susquehanna River, with its numerous tributaries, drains the counties of Sullivan, Clinton, Tioga, Potter, Cameron, Elk, Clearfield, and Centre, as well as Lycoming, and shares a large water-shed tract with the Clarion and Allegheny rivers. After flowing from its remote sources about 150 miles, it then rolls on directly east about 40 miles through Clinton and Lycoming, along the north and steep flank of the Bald Eagle Mountain. When passing through Muncy Valley it describes a grand and graceful semicircular sweep around the end of the mountain, and then, after flowing through a gap in the Muncy Hills, moves directly south about 30 miles to the town of Northumberland, where it unites with the North Branch; and from thence the consolidated stream pursues its way onward in a southeasterly course to the Chesapeake Bay. Both the Reading and Pennsylvania Railroads enter Muncy Valley through this gap. The graphic structure of the cleft, with its picturesque and almost perpendicular escarpment of rock, on both sides of the river, is a puzzle to the geologist. The interesting and puzzling question is, How much of the breach is due to erosion, and how much may be owing to the shrinking, cracking, upheaving and settling of the crust of the earth? Water is not the only agent or pen with which the story of the earth has been written. There is also a force acting from beneath that causes fissures, faults, and dislocations of strata. Geologically speaking, the Susquehanna River is not near as old as the rock formation over which it flows. It has had no share in raising the hills and mountains, nor in causing the fractures and faults and dip of their strata. But as air and frost and rain have disintegrated the rocks and been leveling the surface, the river has been busy transporting the detritus into the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Gernerd, J. M. M., The Muncy Valley: Snap-Shots of Scenery, Geology and History, 1909, Press of the Gazette and Bulletin, Williamsport PA
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