Shamokin Dam on Routes 11 & 15 just south of the confluence of the west and north branches of the Susquehanna River.Its name is derived from a ten foot tall dam that was built across the Susquehanna River in the 1800s. The dam supported steamboat ferries run by Ira T. Clement, which transported goods and people between Shamokin Dam and the city of Sunbury on the Northumberland County side of the river. These ferries operated from 1772 until the Bainbridge Street Bridge was built in 1907. The dam also provided water to the Susquehanna Division of the Pennsylvania Canal System which was constructed on the Shamokin Dam side of the river. The dam was destroyed by ice in March 1904. Pennsylvania was, for centuries, the home of many Native American tribes. During the 1600s the region was dominated by the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy, which included the Mohawks, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, the Tuscaroras, the Senecas and the Oneidas. In the 1750ís Shikellamy, of the Oneida people, came to the region. He negotiated with the white settlers on behalf of the native residents. In 1754, Chief Shikellamy negotiated with Conrad Weiser to set the Blue Mountains as the upper limit settlement in the native people's home lands. Weiser told the area's settlers they could not remain. The Six Nations Treaty of 1754 permitted settlements to move west of the Susquehanna River into lands that eventually became Shamokin Dam and Snyder County. Many natives argued they had been cheated by the treaty. Conflicts between the settlers and the native peoples resulted in deaths on both sides. Eventually, the native peoples were pushed out by the white settlers after the French and Indian War. Germans were among the first European settlers in the region. Their influence continues today in the presence of the Amish and Mennonite sects.
Shamokin Dam was founded by George Keen in 1745. At the time it was named Keensville. Most of the residents were canal workers, raftsmen, shad fishermen and eel fishermen. Restaurants and hotels provided support for the workers and travelers. A lock for the Pennsylvania Canal was located on the riverbank. Most of the local commerce at that time was revolving around transportation and supporting the canal.
In 1907 a toll bridge was completed that connected Shamokin Dam to Sunbury the county seat of Northumberland County. The cost for construction was $150,000. A full time toll collector lived in the house that straddled the bridge. A gate closed the bridge at night. A bell was posted to summon the toll worker during the night. The bridge was used by pedestrians, buggies and motor cars. The toll was 3 cents for walkers, 4 cents for bicyclists, with 15 cents for horses, buggies and motor cars.
As of the censusof 2000, there were 1,502 people, 688 households, and 436 families residing in the borough. The racial makeup of the borough was 97.94% White, 0.60% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.33% from other races. There were 688 households out of which 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% were married couples living together, 6.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.76.
U.S. Routes 11 and 15 pass through the borough. The highway is a major travel artery through the region. Flow is constant (truck and vehicle) with very heavy loads and backups on Fridays (especially in the afternoon) and holiday weekends. There is a proposed major highway bypass project called the Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway. It is meeting with funding challenges that have delayed the project for decades. This thruway will cross Monroe Township just north of Shamokin Dam. Currently Borough officials are working with the Chambers of Commerce, Congressman Tom Marino, Pennsylvania Senators John Gordner and Gene Yaw and Representatives Lynda Schlegel-Culver and Fred Keller to secure funding for the project.The Thruway project has now received Appalachian Highway Development Fund approval, due to the hard work of former Congressman Chris Carney. Current Congressman Tom Marino is working to resolved several remaining administrative details that need addressing before construction contracts can be put out for bid.