Susquehanna State Park: A place for history buffs and nature lovers alike

Sitting along the Susquehanna River valley, across the river from Port Deposit and between the Conowingo Dam and Millard E Tydings Memorial Bridge, sits a state park rich in Maryland history.

Susquehanna State Park assistant park director Robb Bailey says the history of the park is similar to that of other river valley state parks, with one noticeable difference.

"The mill still functions with the same machinery it turned 200 years ago," he said.

Susquehanna State Park trail map.

The Rock Run Grist Mill gives visitors a tangible impression of what life would have been like hundreds of years ago. In the 1800s, the mill produced wheat that would have been sent throughout the mid-Atlantic and even to the Caribbean. 

In the 19th century, the grist mill would have been considered a factory. Now, the mill operates as a museum. For two hours on the weekends in the summer, the mill grinds corn kernels into meal and feed. 

Fast Facts:

  • 70 site campground is open from April to October, including six electric sites and six camper cabins. Camping is especially popular in September and October
  • Home to magnificent white oak tree featured in Tuck Everlasting
  • 15 miles of trails, most of which are multi-use for hikers, bikers and horseback riders
  • Stepping Stone Farm Museum exhibits antique farm implements, wood-wrights shop and restored farm house
  • In the summer of 2015, Petroglyphs from the Conowingo Dam were moved from Druid Hill Park to Susquehanna State Park

Though the park encompasses just 2,700 acres, Bailey said they pack a lot into the park. 

 

"There's no shortage of things to do here," he said. "It's a very popular place for hiking, for mountain biking, for bird watching, boating, hunting, river recreation, sightseeing, and we even have archery course."

 

Most of the trails, with the exception of the historic trail is multi-use and open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders. 

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The Rock Run area of the park is where history buffs will want to tour. In addition to the Rock Run Grist Mill, the Carter-Archer Mansion is a historic mansion open for tours in the spring, summer and fall. The Archer family owned the mansion in the 1800s. James Archer was an officer in the Civil War, in fact he was the highest ranking confederate officer to be captured during the war.

The Jersey Toll House was once the collection point for travelers crossing the Susquehanna. The bridge was the only one that crossed the river south of the Mason Dixon from 1817-1855, making the toll house a very popular place. 

The Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal remnants are also visible from the park. In the 1830s, the canal connected Havre de Grace with Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. Bailey said most of the canal is underwater now because of hydroelectric plants and dams. The canal operated until 1890. 

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