Pennsylvania has 95 bodies of water; of those, five have helped to contribute to much of the state's commercial success. The state transformed from a farming state to one of great industry and trade due to its waterways. Most of Pennsylvania's bodies of water run through national parks and draw in tourists who fish, canoe, kayak and camp along the banks.
Lake Erie sits at the top left corner of Pennsylvania. Lake Erie is one of the smaller lakes of the Great Lakes, but is still the 11th largest lake in the world. It is 9,922 square miles in surface area and over 200 feet deep. The fertile soils around Lake Erie make good farming territory and the area is the most densely populated of the five Great Lake basins, according to the Great Lakes Information Network. The lake provides commerce, transportation, manufacturing, fishing, power production, recreation and agriculture to Pennsylvania.
The Delaware River
The Delaware River forms a boundary between Pennsylvania and New York, and between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The river was voted Pennsylvania’s 2011 River of the Year. “Its waters serve the needs of more than 15 million people from four different states, including more than 5 million Pennsylvanians. It boasts the largest freshwater port in the world, as well as threatened and endangered species, and a thriving tourism industry," said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary John Quigley in a DelewareRiver.net article.
Ohio River and Allegheny River
The Ohio and Allegheny rivers are also important rivers for commerce in Pennsylvania. The Ohio River is formed by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers at Point State Park in Pittsburgh. The Allegheny River zigzags across most of Pennsylvania, which became important for trade and commerce within the major cities of the state. During the 1800s, the Ohio River was used to transport crops down to Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, according to Ohio History Central.
The Susquehanna River is the longest river in the continental United States without commercial boat traffic. The river cuts directly through Pennsylvania to the Chesapeake Bay and then the Atlantic Ocean. The river is still used for recreational boating and fishing, but became one of the nation's most endangered rivers in 2005 due to pollution from farmland runoff, the state's coal business, sewer pollution and dam construction, according to American Rivers.