Tulpehocken Creek (Pennsylvania)
An important transportation route in the early United States, the creek drains a limestone hill country area of Berks County south of the Appalachian Mountains and is considered one of the finest trout streams in southeastern Pennsylvania. The valley of the creek was known in colonial times as the Tulpehocken, stretching west of Reading. It was inhabited by the Lenape and was a destination for early German-speaking settlers. The name comes from a Lenape word Tulpewikaki, meaning "land of turtles." Coincidentally, it also literally means "tulip squatting" in German. It is a designated Pennsylvania Scenic River.
Tulpehocken Creek rises in western Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, and flows generally east, in a winding course, through Myerstown, entering Berks County, passing north of Womelsdorf. At Womelsdorf it turns abruptly north, then flows southeast, through the Blue Marsh Lake reservoir and joins the Schuylkill at Reading.
In the 1720s, the creek valley was a destination for early Swiss and Palatine settlers, who used the creek for extensive milling operations. In the 19th century, it provided an important early transportation route with the building in 1828 of the Union Canal along the river, connecting from its headwaters to those of Quittapahilla Creek in Lebanon County. The canal, first surveyed in the 1790s provided the first water route between the Susquehanna River and the Delaware River, allowing large shipments of coal to Philadelphia.
The creek is impounded for flood control above Reading by the earthen Blue Marsh Dam (see Blue Marsh State Park) completed in 1979 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to form the Blue Marsh Lake reservoir. The bottom-release design of the dam allows for the discharge of a cold water at a constant temperature, resulting in an ideal habitat for rainbow trout and brown trout, which are stocked annually in the stream.
- U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 1, 2011
- U.S. Geological Survey: PA stream gaging stations
- Tulpehocken Creek History
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Blue Marsh Lake origins
- Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Reports, Hatch Chart, and Fly Fishing Info