Discover the Lowest Point in Pennsylvania

Oldest Rivers - Susquehanna River
© Jayce Wyatt Photography/Shutterstock.com

Written by Luke Stevens

Published: May 30, 2023

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Introduction

Classified as a Middle Atlantic State, Pennsylvania is located along the Eastern Seaboard. It is often referred to as the “Keystone State” due to its central location. Pennsylvania is one of the oldest states in the US, originally founded as one of the 13 colonies. The rectangular area of the state measures around 300 miles (480 kilometers) in width and 150 miles (240 kilometers) from top to bottom. The state is famous for many incredible things, such as Hershey’s chocolate and the Liberty Bell. Pennsylvania also attracts visitors due to its incredible geographical diversity, containing mountain ranges, sprawling meadows, and endless forests. Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating state, and discover the lowest point in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania – Its Lowest Point

Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area viewed at sunset from Mount Tammany located in New Jersey

The low elevation of the Delaware River allows waterways in the state to flow downwards into the river and into the state of Delaware.

©Tetyana Ohare/Shutterstock.com

The lowest point in all of Pennsylvania is the Delaware River. This point is located in Delaware County on the southeastern edge of the state. This region of the Delaware River has an elevation at sea level, the base level for measuring elevation on Earth. In contrast, the highest point in Pennsylvania is Mount Davis, with an elevation of 3,213 feet (979 meters). Having an elevation of zero feet, this portion of the Delaware River is significantly lower than the average elevation for the state of Pennsylvania, which is 1,100 feet (335 meters).

The low elevation of the Delaware River allows waterways in the state to flow downwards into the river and into the state of Delaware. The river cuts through hills and mountains and is surrounded by lush wilderness on both sides. Aquatic animals such as Atlantic sturgeon, freshwater mussels, and American eels can be found swimming in the river.

In contrast, Mount Davis towers above the Pennsylvania wilderness, covered in lush trees and underbrush. The mountain is home to wildlife such as deer, bears, rattlesnakes, and turkeys. Mount Davis is located along the southern edge of the state in Somerset County.

History of the Delaware River

Originally called the “Lenape Wihittuck,” the Delaware River was first home to the Native American Lenape tribe. The first European to discover this river was Henry Hudson in the year 1609. Hudson was a member of the Dutch East India Trading Company. His job was to scout new routes for the transportation of goods. While his discovery of the river was unintentional, it ended up being extremely beneficial. Many Dutch and Swedish settlers set up posts along the Delaware River, making it a hub of commerce and trading.

Many people are familiar with the famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River. Washington crossed the Delaware in order to launch an attack on a garrison of Hessian Troops on December 25, 1776. Leading the Continental Army, which consisted of just 1,400 troops, Washington crossed the Delaware into Trenton, New Jersey. Washington and his men successfully surprised the Hessian troops, solidifying his status as an American hero. This famous attack occurred just 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Pennsylvania’s lowest point along the river.

Before the invention of railways in 1857, the Delaware River played a crucial role in the commerce of the northeastern United States. Many canals were constructed as offshoots of the river, leading to major cities along its banks. Now, railways and other forms of transportation carry the bulk of goods and supplies between regions. However, the Delaware River is still a key factor in the water supply of many major American cities. More than 17 million people still get their drinking water from the Delaware River basin.

Formation of the Delaware River

winter in delaware

The Delaware River Gap is one of the deepest sections of the river.

©Nate Edwards/Shutterstock.com

During the formation of the Appalachian Mountain Range, certain building episodes created structural weaknesses in the bedrock. As the mountains grew taller, gaps and valleys in between the peaks formed. Between two million to 20,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene Epoch of the Ice Ages, large icecaps in the north began to melt. As water flowed south from these icecaps it filled in the valleys and gaps in between the newly-forming Appalachian mountains.

As the water flowed past weak bedrock and rock sediment, erosion occurred. This lengthened the width and depth of the Delaware River into what it has become today. The river measures 301 miles (484 kilometers) in length, beginning in the Catskill Mountains of New York and emptying into Delaware Bay. The river is 113 feet (34 meters) at its deepest and can be as shallow as four feet (around one meter) at the edges of its banks. The widest point of the Delaware River measures around four miles (six kilometers) from one bank to the other.

The Area Surrounding the Lowest Point in Pennsylvania

The lowest point in Pennsylvania along the Delaware River is located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The county has a population of 576,830 according to the 2020 census. The town of Markus Hook is home to the lowest point in the state. Delaware County itself is fairly close to sea level, with its highest point of elevation measuring just 500 feet.

Located just 22 miles (35 kilometers) south of Philadelphia, Delaware County is a very popular day trip for Pennsylvanian and out-of-state residents. The area has plenty of historic sites recounting famous, pivotal stories from the American Revolutionary War. It is also home to famous gardens, wine trails, and numerous sports centers. Residents of the county have a median age of around 39 and earn a median household income of around 76,238 dollars. This is slightly higher than the United States median household income of 70,784 dollars. Main sources of income in Delaware County include healthcare and social assistance jobs, educational positions, retail trade, and mining.

Things to do in Pennsylvania

Downtown Philadelphia

Beautiful Philadelphia downtown skyline at sunset.

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Pennsylvania is home to two large cities: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was home to many important decisions and events that led to the formation of the country that exists today. History buffs can visit iconic sites such as the Liberty Bell as well as the Independence Hall. Aside from its historical offerings, Philadelphia has much more to offer. It is the birthplace of the famous Philly cheesesteak and has fascinating artwork ranging from ancient colonial architecture to modern murals and paintings.

Baseball fans will feel right at home in Pittsburgh attending a Pirates baseball game. Food lovers can try authentic pierogies and mouth-watering deli sandwiches, as well as numerous delectable sweet treats. Many world-class museums in Pittsburgh offer wonderful educational experiences, such as the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Science Center.

The rich history of the state of Pennsylvania extends beyond the American Revolutionary War period. The town of Gettysburg, where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address during the Civil War is located in the southernmost region of the state. The town offers 12 museums to learn more about the Civil War. It is also where some of the United States’ most pivotal moments took place.

Thrill-seekers will be at the edge of their seats at the Hershey amusement park in Hershey, Pennsylvania. For those with a sweet tooth, Hershey is also home to Hershey’s Chocolate. Visitors can attend Chocolate World to learn more about how their favorite candy is made. They can also try some fresh, irresistible Hershey’s chocolate.

Final Thoughts

Nature lovers can canoe or kayak down the Delaware River, taking in views of wildlife and the Appalachian mountains.

©Christian Hinkle/Shutterstock.com

Aside from cities, Pennsylvania is known for its amazing natural beauty. Breathtaking mountains loom over the expansive landscape, offering incredible hiking opportunities. Nature lovers can canoe or kayak down the Delaware River, taking in views of wildlife and the Appalachian mountains. While Pennsylvania is not a coastal state, it does border Lake Eerie. The town of Eerie offers sandy beaches, lakefront views, and phenomenal sunsets.

Anyone can find something fun to do in Pennsylvania, making it a great state to visit when given the chance!


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About the Author

My name is Luke, and I currently a student at the University of Southern California. I love the outdoors, learning, and writing. I am also involved in several groups focusing on the entertainment industry and business administration. My favorite animals are dogs, koala bears, and dolphins.

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