The Songhua River (Chinese pinyin: Sōnghuā Jiāng) is the largest tributary of the Heilong River. It ranks the fifth longest river in China, runs about 1,897 kilometers long and covers a drainage area of 545,600 square kilometers. The source of the river is a crater lake called Heavenly Lake with an elevation of 2,189 meters at the top of the Changbai Mountain, which borders North Korea in China’s Jilin Province. The water falls down from the Heavenly Lake and forms a waterfall, as if the water rushes down from heaven. Hence the local Manchu inhabitant called it "Songga-liwula" (means Heavenly Lake). It is considered that its Chinese name "Songhua" is from its Manchurian pronunciation - "Songga-liwula".
The river is 4 meters in depth and 1 kilometer in width on average in Harbin reach. Songhua River has more than 900 branches in large and small size. The river is frozen over from November to April the next year.
As the largest branch of the Heilong River, Songhua River winding through Harbin for 117 kilometers and served as an important artery for the development of the city. In the 17th century, under the reign of Emperor Kangxi, naval ships were stationed along these areas, and resisted the invading Russian enemy successfully. After that, in 1689, Sino-Russian Treaty of Nerchinsk was signed. That is the first border agreement between the Qing government and the imperial Russian government. On June 6th, 1898, a Russia warship taken on the engineers and surveyors to made a topographic map for building the China-East Railway. There landing point is where the Flood Control Monument located now. From then on, the river became busy and lots of material needed for build the railway were transported through this River and then, a modern city was erected at the south bank of Songhua River.
Three big bridges have been built over the river, and one of them connected the south bank of Harbin and Sun Island was built in 1983 and opened to traffic in 1986. This bridge approach or the leading bridge on the south bank of the Songhua River was designed to have two circles. So the whole bridge was like a scissors and the bridge approach is like the scissors’ handle.
The Songhua River in winter is no less bustling than a summer bathing beach. It's frozen hard with ice nearly one meter thick, turning it into a huge playground for all kinds of ice sports. You can go swimming, skating and ice sailing, or ride in ice junks or horse-drawn sleighs.