Juniata River

From Academic Kids

The Juniata River is a tributary of the Susquehanna River, approximately 90 miles (145 km long), in central Pennsylvania in the United States. The river is considered especially scenic along much of its route, with a broad and shallow course passing through several mountain ridges and steeply-lined water gaps. It formed an early 18th-century frontier region in Pennsylvania and was the site of Native American attacks against white settlement during the French and Indian War. The watershed of the river encompasses an area of approximately 3400 sq mi (8700 km²), approximately one-eighth of the drainage area of the Susquehanna. Approximately two-thirds of the watershed is forested. It is the second largest tributary of the Susquehanna after the West Branch Susquehanna.



It is formed in central Huntingdon County, approximately 3 mi (5 km) southeast of Huntingdon, by the confluence of the Little Juniata River and the Rayston Branch. It flows southeast, through a gap in the Jacks Mountain ridge. On the southeast side of the ridge it receives Aughwick Creek from the south, then flows northeast, along the eastern flank of the Jacks Mountain ridge to Lewistown. From Lewistown it flows generally east, in a winding course, receiving Tuscarora Creek from the south and passing through a gap in the Tuscarora Mountain ridge. It receives Buffalo Creek northwest of Newport and joins the Susquehanna 1 miles (1.6 km) northeast of Duncannon, approximately 15 mi (24 km) northwest of Harrisburg.


The first known inhabitants of the river valley were the Onojutta-Haga Indians. The valley was later inhabited by the Lenape until a treaty negotiated by William Penn opened the land to east of the Allegheny Ridge to white settlement. In 1755-1756, as a result of Lenape anger over loss of their lands, the white settlement in the valley suffered fierce raids and abductions from Lenape and Shawnee at Kittanning on the Allegheny River. Over 3,000 white settlers were killed in the raids. The burning of Fort Granville at present-day Lewistown in 1756 prompted Pennsylvania governor John Penn to launch a reprisal against the Lenape and Shawnee led by Lt. Col. John Armstrong, who burned Kittanning in September 1756.

During the 19th century, the river was paralleled by the Great Canal, part of the canal system of Pennsylvania and a rival to the Erie Canal. The state sold the canal to the Pennsylvania Railroad, which abandoned the canal in 1889 after severe flooding.

The river is a popular destination for recreational canoeing and fly fishing, in particular for smallmouth bass and channel catfish suited to river's gentle course. The muskellunge was introduced as predatory sport fish and is now a prized catch. Attempts are underway by the state to reintroduce the once-prevalent American shad, which went into decline largely because of dams on the river.

The river cuts through several southwest-to-northeast ridges, largely of sandstone between limestone valley floors. Several of the river's tributaries, including Kishacoquillas Creek, are degraded by pollution, but the main stem of the river is considered fairly clean by regional standards. Only two towns of over 10,000 people, namely Altoona and Lewistown, lie within the watershed of the river. Steep slopes along much of the river's course have largely discouraged widespread development.

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