As we start the New Year, arctic cold has transformed the Susquehanna outside our Zimmerman Center for Heritage into an icy winter wonderland. We are thankful to be inside looking out, warm with the layers of history that inhabit this 18th century stone sentinel of a building on what was once America’s frontier. It’s a great time to reflect on another successful year advancing our vision for the river as a national destination for outdoor fun and cultural discovery.

In 2017 we launched year-round weekend hours and programs at the Zimmerman Center, doubled annual visitors to almost 5,000, and welcomed over 400 local school children to learn about history, nature, and art through the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. At Columbia Crossing River Trails Center we launched new exhibits and programs, hosted the Canoemobile event for hundreds of 5th graders, and helped 23,000 visitors find their place on the river. We saw our National Heritage Area bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and celebrated with many generous friends of the river at our Annual River Experience event in Wrightsville and our first-ever Extraordinary River Party in Columbia.

More is on the way for 2018. With the National Park Service and other partners, we’ll complete important planning efforts for the John Smith Chesapeake Trail, design accessibility improvements at the Zimmerman Center, and prepare for new land and water shuttle service linking both sides of the river. We’ll continue to lead tourism development for the Susquehanna Riverlands, publish maps, websites, and social media, and improve visitor readiness. All of these efforts will enhance quality of life for residents and bring economic vitality to our communities through tourism.

This is all possible through strong, sustaining funding partnerships with the PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, National Park Service, Lancaster and York Counties, Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Columbia Borough, the Ralph H. Goodno Riverlands Fund managed by Lancaster County Conservancy, and our many generous individual and corporate donors. Thank you all so much. We’ll see you along the river – whatever the season!

Mark Platts, President