Allegheny River is a principal tributary of the Ohio
River; it is located in the Eastern United States. The Allegheny River joins with the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River
at the "Point" of Point State
Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
river is approximately long, running through
the U.S. states of New York and Pennsylvania.
Allegheny River watershed
It drains a rural dissected plateau
of in the northern
, providing the
northeastern most drainage in the watershed of the Mississippi River
. Its tributaries reach
to within of Lake
Erie in southwestern New York.
of the river has been one of the
most productive areas of energy extraction in U.S. history; with
extensive deposits of coal
, and natural
The word Allegheny
comes from the Lenape
. Although it
is usually translated as "fine river", the meaning is not
definitively known. There is a Lenape legend of a tribe called
"Allegewi" who used to live along the river.
The following account of the naming of the Allegheny River was
given by Moravian missionary David Zeisberger in 1780: All this
land and region, stretching as far as the creeks and waters that
flow into the Alleghene the Delawares called Alligewinenk, which
means "a land into which they came from distant parts." The river
itself, however, is called Alligewi Sipo. The whites have made
Alleghene out of this, the Six Nations calling the river the
Other Indians, such as the Iroquois
considered the Allegheny and Ohio rivers as the same, as is
suggested by a New York State road sign on Interstate 86
that refers to the
Allegheny river secondarily as O Hi Yo
. In New York, areas
around the river are often named with the alternate spelling
Allegany in reference to the river; for example, the
Allegany and Allegany State Park.
Allegheny rises in north central Pennsylvania, in central Potter
County, approximately 10 miles (16 km) south of
the New York border. It flows west past Coudersport then turns north into western New York State,
looping westward across southern Cattaraugus
County for approximately 30 miles (48 km), past
Portville, Olean, St. Bonaventure University and
Salamanca and flowing through
Seneca Indian Nation lands close to the northern boundary of
Park before re-entering northwestern Pennsylvania
approximately 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Jamestown, New
in a broad zigzag course generally southward across Western Pennsylvania; first flowing
southwest past Warren, Tidioute, Tionesta, Oil
City, and Franklin, forming much of the northwestern boundary of
National Forest. South of Franklin it turns southeast across
County in a meandering course, then
turns again southwest across Armstrong
County, flowing past Kittanning, Ford City, Clinton and Freeport.
enters Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh suburbs, and the City of Pittsburgh from the
northeast. It passes Sligo, Karns, and Natrona in Harrison Township; Metcalf, Braeburn, Lower
Burrell, and New Kensington in Westmoreland County; Brackenridge, Tarentum, Creighton, Clyde,
Springdale, Harmarville, Blawnox, Fox Chapel, Sharpsburg, Etna,
Millvale, Lawrenceville, Highland Park, The North Side, Downtown
Pittsburgh, Point State Park and joins with the Monongahela River at "The Point" in
Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to form the Ohio River.
from the Allegheny River eventually flows into the Gulf of
Mexico via the Ohio River and the Mississippi River.
Much of the Allegheny River's course
is through hilly woodlands.
upper reaches, the Allegheny is joined from the south by Potato Creek in McKean
County, Pennsylvania and from the north by Olean Creek at Olean, New
York. The Great Valley Creek and Little
Valley Creek join the river from the north in Salamanca, New York before becoming the
re-entering Pennsylvania, the river is joined from the east by
Kinzua Creek upstream of Warren; from
the north by Conewango Creek at
Warren; from the west by Brokenstraw Creek; from
the north by Oil Creek
at Oil City; from the west by French
Creek at Franklin; from the east by the Clarion River in Parker, one of its principal tributaries, in eastern
Clarion County; from the east by Crooked Creek southeast of
Kittanning; and from the east by the Kiskiminetas River, another principal
tributary, at Schenley. Buffalo Creek
enters at Lower Burrell, Bull Creek
enters at Tarentum,
enters near New
Kensington, and Riddle Run
Springdale. Many other creeks, runs, and streams enter or join with
the Allegheny River.
In the 16th century, control of the river valley passed
back-and-forth between Algonquian
and the Iroquois
time of the arrival of the French in the
early 18th century, the Shawnee were once again in control and
formed an alliance with the French against the incursion of
British settlement across the Allegheny Mountains.
over the expansion of British settlement into the Allegheny Valley
and the surrounding Ohio Country
primary cause of the French and
in the 1750s
. During the war,
the village of Kittaning
principal Shawnee settlement on the river, was completely destroyed
reprisal raids from Central Pennsylvania.
Nevertheless, the British, after gaining control of the area in the
1763 Treaty of Paris
the area closed to white settlement, in part to repair and maintain
relations with the Native Americans. The pressure to open the river
valley and the surrounding area to settlement is considered by
historians to be one of the root causes of the American Revolutionary War
During the 19th century, the river became a principal means of
navigation in the upper Ohio valley, especially for the transport
of coal. Although the building of the railroads
lessened the importance of the river somewhat, the lower river
(navigable as far as East Brady, Pennsylvania through locks) has continued to serve
as route of commercial transportation until the present day.
the first U.S. petroleum was drilled north of the river at Titusville.
the underlying premises of the Genesee Valley Canal was its connection
to the river, opening a trade route from Rochester, New York to the west.
The advent of the
railroads destroyed any interest that Pennsylvania might have had
in participating by improving navigation on the river.
the completion of the federally-sponsored Kinzua Dam for flood-control in
northwestern Pennsylvania east of Warren created the long Allegheny Reservoir, part of which is
included in the Allegheny National Recreation
The dam flooded parts of lands deeded
"forever" to the Seneca Nation
by the 1794 Treaty
, and to lands given to Cornplanter
and his descendants. The event is
described in the Johnny Cash
Long as the Grass Shall Grow" from the 1964 album Bitter Tears:
Ballads of the American Indian
, which focuses on the
history of and problems facing Native Americans in the United
The construction of the dam and the filling of the Allegheny
Reservoir also necessitated the elimination of the small town of
, which was located at
the confluence of Willow Creek with the Allegheny River; and the
small town of Kinzua
, which was
located at the confluence of Kinzua Creek with the Allegheny River.
All residents of both towns were forced to move.
Many prominent individuals opposed the construction of the dam at
that time because of the damage it would do to Seneca lands,
including Pennsylvania Congressman John
P. Saylor of
Johnstown, and Howard
Zahniser, executive director of The Wilderness Society and native of
Tionesta – a small town located on the Allegheny River
several miles downstream from Warren.
During the campaign
for the 1960
United States presidential election
, John F. Kennedy
assured the Seneca Nation
that he would oppose the dam if elected. However, he failed to
follow through on his pledge upon becoming president.
In 1992, of the Allegheny was designated Wild and Scenic
. This designation
comprises three segments of the river located in Warren, Forest, and Venango Counties.
In 2008, Katie Spotz
became the first
person to swim the entire of the Allegheny River; she was
accompanied by safety kayaker, James Hendershott. The team began at
the river's source in Raymond, Pennsylvania on July 22 and finished
at the "Point" in Downtown Pittsburgh on August 21.
Cities and towns along the river
- New York
Notes and references
- Zeisberger, David: David Zeisberger's History of the
Northern American Indians in 18th Century Ohio, New York and
Pennsylvania, p. 33. Wennawoods Publishing, 1999, ISBN
- Allegheny Wild and Scenic River – Allegheny
- The Allegheny River: Watershed of the Nation, by Jim
Schafer and Mike Sajna (Pennsylvania State University Press;
October 1992) ISBN 978-0271008363