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The West Branch Susquehanna River was a travel route for settlers to the interior of Pennsylvania. In 1833, the West Branch Division of the Pennsylvania Canal opened from Northumberland to Lock Haven, passing through the current state park. By the late 1800s, logging became the main industry of the area. At this time it was not uncommon in the spring to find the river jammed bank-to-bank with timber floating to mills downstream. The initial land for the park was purchased for flood control. Susquehanna State Park was created through the joint efforts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Williamsport. The park occupies the floodplain between the river and the flood control levy. The park is the only riverfront recreational area constructed by the former Department of Forests and Waters, a precursor to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The park opened to the public in 1961.

Susquehanna State Park is home to the Hiawatha Paddlewheel Riverboat. The Hiawatha offers cruises along the Susquehanna from May through October. Visitors can also enjoy picnics along the river, boating, and fishing.