Wyalusing Borough History
Wyalusing is situated where Wyalusing Creek enters the Susquehanna River and is built upon a low hill nestled between Browntown Mountain and the renowned Wyalusing Rocks above the Susquehanna River. The river enabled the first explorers and settlers the earliest means of transportation through the Endless Mountains region so named for the many hills and ridgetops remaining from the heavily dissected peneplain.
The area was populated entirely by Native American Indians prior to the coming of European settlers. At that time, the Wyalusing Plains were occupied by a tribe of the Susquehannocks, known as the Andastes; a name given them by the French explorers. Prior to 1750, a settlement known as the Gahontato, opposite Sugar Run, was inhabited by the Tehotachsee; named by the Iroquois. This small tribe was completely exterminated by the Cayugas in wars waged before the introduction of firearms. With the coming of firearms and iron utensils, the Iroquois nation flourished and subjugated the entire region.
In 1752, Paupanhunk, a Minsi or Monsey Chieftain of the Delaware tribe, established a settlement with about 20 families. The village was built upon the ashes of a previously destroyed settlement and was named M’chwihilusing; meaning “home of the honorable warrior”, from which the anglicized “Wyalusing” was obtained. In 1760, Charles Frederick Post spent a night at M’chwihilusing, and introduced Christianity, at the request of the Indians. In 1763, the Moravian apostle, David Zeisberger and Quaker Evangelist, John Woolman preached to Paupanhunk’s people. In 1765, Zeisberger returned and assisted by John Jacob Schmick, established a Moravian mission named Friedenshutten. Within two years, the mission grew and remained until the outbreak of the American Revolution when the Paupanhunk relocated to Lock Haven.
The first permanent settlement thereafter occurred in 1774 by Connecticut settlers, claiming lands granted or leased through the Susquehanna Company. During the Revolutionary War, white settlers in the town sought refuge at Fort Wyoming. In 1778, Wyalusing was burned to the ground by Indians sympathizing with the British.
Through the 1800’s, Wyalusing served as a hub for the shipment of logs down the Susquehanna River and grew as a commercial center for the surrounding farms. The Welles Mill Company was established along the Wyalusing Creek in 1820, and was a prime reason settlers came to reside in the town and farm the surrounding countryside. The present town is comprised of farmlands once owned by the Gaylord family.
Wyalusing became a shipping center on the North Branch Canal that followed the Susquehanna River through this region and crossed the Wyalusing Creek by way of an aqueduct. During the mid-1880’s, a railroad was built though this area and Wyalusing became a main shipping point for livestock, grain, lumber, and flagstone. The town’s business section, built between 1840 and the early 1900’s, has escaped serious fires that swept other towns in this area. As a result, the charming, old store fronts still exist today as they were more than a century ago.
Wyalusing was incorporated as a Borough in 1887; the same year as “The Wyalusing Rocket”, the local newspaper that still operates today. In the mid-1920’s, Wyalusing became a main shipping center for a vast dairy industry that had grown in the region surrounding the town.
Today, Wyalusing is a commercial social, recreational, education and spiritual hub for a diversified area. Its business district contains some fine shops that provide goods and services to those who shop in town on a daily basis. The town supports a junior-senior high school and an elementary school that covers Laceyville, New Albany, Camptown and the Wyalusing area.
Wyalusing’s most dominant feature is the natural beauty in which the town is set including the Wyalusing Rocks overlook, one mile west of the Borough on State Route 6 that is of particular interest to tourists and residents alike. In short, Wyalusing has a well-defined downtown, convenient location, bountiful natural resources, streets lined with nicely-maintained homes, and perhaps more importantly, residents who enjoy living here and who want to maintain and improve the quality of life.