Northwest Lancaster County River Trail
By Bob Shank
Owner of Shank’s Tavern
I own Shank’s Tavern on Front Street in Marietta, which is nestled along a 2-mile portion of the Susquehanna River adjacent to the Northwest River Trail. The historic tavern was built in 1814, and has been in my family since 1930.
I’m sure I speak for all the business owners along Front Street by saying there is no doubt the opening of the trail has brought a multitude of people–young and old–to Marietta. Lots of walkers, joggers, cyclists, hikers, kayakers, boaters, and history buffs have come to explore our town. For the past few years we have been closed on Sundays, but we’ve decided to reopen on Sundays due to the amount of trail users coming through town looking for a place to eat.
River towns along the Susquehanna like Marietta, Columbia, and Wrightsville are rich in Lancaster County history. Iron furnaces played a huge part in the economy (and landscape) of the 1800s. The Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal carried barges loaded with lumber and ore, along with passengers. You could take a canal boat from Shank’s Tavern and go to Baltimore. During the Civil War, Union troops burned the bridges to stop the advancing Confederates. To this day, bridge foundations and the furnace ruins are still there and can be viewed when traveling the trail.
Thankfully, the Northwest River Trail is bringing much-welcomed interest and vitality back to our historic little town of Marietta.