Our Watershed's History

The geological history of Sugar Valley is ancient.  Long ago our continent was submerged in a shallow sea.  That sand from that sea deposited layers of sandstone that remain as the ridges around the valley. Calcium rich sea creatures became the deposits of softer limestone that is in our valley floor.  Ages later our continent and the continent that became Africa collided, in the Alleghany orogeny which created the Appalachian Mountains.  Once as tall as the Himalayas, those mountains eroded, leaving the sandstone ridges and fertile valleys of the ridge and valley section of Pennsylvania.

The soils of Sugar Valley are good for farming and also good for growing trees including the Sugar Maple tree.  North American indigenous people visited this valley to hunt and make maple syrup from the early spring sap of the Sugar Maple tree.   In the early 1800’s as settlers pushed north and west pushing out the Native Americans, immigrants from Germany settled here where they found fertile land, initially clearing the valley floor to farm.  A stage coach followed the length of the valley on its way to Bellefonte.

Near the turn of the last century lumber companies started to timber the ridges and laid a narrow gauge railroad to bring timber from the mountains to the Susquehanna Valley.  The  White Deer and Loganton Railroad served the community from 1907 to 1916.  An excursion train brought families from Union County to Tea Springs, near the headwaters of the creek, for picnics and musical entertainment at the band pavilion. The railroad also carried milk and other agricultural products to larger markets.  As the timber companies cleared mountain ground, the next wave of immigrants settled on less fertile soils.  Picnickers from the Susquehanna Valley rode the train to Tea Springs, near the headwaters of Big Fishing Creek to find relief from the summer heat.

During Prohibition, some of the brooks bringing mountain spring water toward the creek became sources of water for moonshine making.  A notorious bootlegger call Prince Farrington had a network of stills and a complex network to distribute his high quality moonshine to Williamsport and other Mid Atlantic cities. The Prince was beloved by many who benefitted from employment, got paid to store moonshine or who received gifts in kind from the savvy outlaw.

The relative isolation of Sugar Valley lessened in the 1970s with the completion of Interstate 80. Prior to Interstate 80 the valley was reached by dirt forestry roads or winding secondary roads.  With the completion of the Interstate came the Old Order Amish, who scouted Pennsylvania for an area with fertile soils and reasonable land costs and found Sugar Valley.

As the sport of fishing became a gentleman’s pastime, and the abundance of trout got out, sections of the lower reaches of our watershed were purchased by sportsmen to erect fishing camps and summer cottages along the stream.

Our Watershed's Uniqueness

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