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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Susque-whatta? (Plus a New Reader Contest!) (for the Week of April 20, 2008)

April 20, 2008

Q. Dear Twig: "Susquehanna." Now that's a beautiful word.

A. Your question? Is that a question? Bueller? ... Bueller?

All right. Yes. Yes, it is. It is a beautiful word. A smooth-flowing, cool-sounding, vowel-impacted word. Susquehanna. "Suss-kwih-HAN-uh." Sweet. The name of a major river that runs through the northeast United States. Also of an Indian tribe. Plus a county, township, state park and university. To name just a few.

"Susquehanna," writes the Susquehanna (Whoop! There's another!) Greenway Partnership of Pennsylvania, "is thought to be an Indian word meaning The Long, Crooked River." Which makes it a spot-on name. The Susquehanna River runs nearly 500 miles. And it does it, yep, in a squiggly way.

Readers: What's your own favorite word? Make it a noun. Write a haiku about why you like it. Send them to me at Be one of the first 10 (starting .... NOW!) and win a free copy of my book, Hairy Blenny. I'll share the best!



P.S. Geologists call the Susquehanna one of the oldest rivers in the world!


According to a Maryland Department of Natural Resources Web site, "Captain John Smith [the guy Pocahontas kept out of trouble] first explored the Susquehanna River in 1608. It impressed him favorably. ... During his journey, Smith met and described the native Susquehannocks, for whom the river is named."

Of interest, too, or maybe instead boring to you ("Class? Class? Cl- ... Wake up!!!" Far out ...), is that Smith spelled the tribe "Sasquesahannocks" in his writings and the river "Sasquesahanough" on a map he did.

(OK. Enough Susquehanna. Now write down and e-mail those words and haikus! Oo! Hey! Dibs on "Monongahela"!)

About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College — is a weekly feature for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at, to and for a 4th-grade reading level.

For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691,, (330) 263-3776.

Online at

Kurt Knebusch