As our population grows and prosperity increases, historical landscapes and structures disappear. After visiting the venerable Dritt Mansion located at Long Level in Wrightsville, York County, I realized that people had constructed modern homes next to the Mansion which sits upon a high bluff. The Indian name for the grounds was Conejohela (at the place of the boiling kettle). The land around the Susquehanna River was sacred Indian land. Historians have related that in 1608 Captain John Smith met a band of “sixty Indian warriors that lived two days higher up than our barge could pass for the rocks…such great and well-proportioned men are seldom seen, for they seem like giants to the English, yea, to their neighbors.” He stated further that, “they were possessed with hatchets, knives, peeces of iron and brasse, and presented to my men venison, tobacco pipes three feet in length, baskets, targets, swords, beads, bowes and arrows.” Smith continues that “His hair, the one side was long and the other short close with a ridge over his crown like a cock’s combe. These he wore in a wolves skinne at his back for his quiver, his bowe in one hand and his clubbe in the other.” The article, written by the late H. C. Frey, states further that, “When Estienne Brule explored the river from its source to its mouth for the Frenchmen, De Champlain, early in the seventeenth century, he reported that the climate…was very temperate, that it snowed rarely…animals and an abundance of small game…this in measure describes the section of the country at Long Level.” Frey posits that Estienne Brule was the first European to cross the entire section of Pennsylvania. Brule ransomed from the Susquehanna Indians, Kleynties, the Dutch trader, and two comrades.
If one stands on the banks of the Susquehanna River and close your eyes, you can visualize Indian villages, canoes and traders.