Rivers: Know Your Rivers

Remember, what we do upstream effects everyone and everything downstream.

Conhocton River (aka Cohocton River): The 58.5-mile-long river is a tributary to the Chemung River. Cohocton is an Iroquois name (pronounced “Ga-ha-to"), meaning "log floating in the water." The Cohocton River headwaters are in Livingston County, New York, 15 miles north of Dansville in Tabor Corners.  It flows southeast through rural Steuben County, winding through a valley cut through the Allegheny Plateau, to Painted Post, a journey of about 55 miles. The river has a 474.3-square-mile watershed that is largely undeveloped, with 61.9 percent being forested, 35.8 percent agriculture, and only 1.5 percent urban.

Tioga River: The headwaters are in the mountains of western Bradford County, Pennsylvania. The Tioga River flows through the Tioga State Forest and then runs north, cutting a path through four mountain ranges, flowing past Blossburg and Mansfield and then into the Tioga Reservoir, has a lake surface area of 498 acres. North of Tioga, it receives Crooked Creek from the west, one mile north of the New York state line, and then receives Canisteo ("Pickeral"or "head of water”) Creek from the west, 10 miles south of Corning.
The convergence of the Cohocton, Canisteo and Tioga Rivers was referred to as "Concanoga" or the land of three rivers by the Native Americans.

Chemung River's name comes from the Iroquois word meaning "big horn" or " horn in the water.” The Lenape people called the river "Cononogue" which had a similar meaning. The Chemung River, originating in Painted Post, travels east-southeast through Corning, Big Flats, Elmira, Lowman, and Waverley, to Tioga Point in Pennsylvania. At Tioga Point the Chemung River joins the east branch of the Susquehanna River, a journey of approximately 45 miles.

Most of the Chemung Valley is cut into Devonian age shale, sandstone, and limestone. The hilltops have been rounded off by the passing of glaciers. Some of the northern tributaries that previously flowed north to the Genesee River Basin now flow south to the Chemung River Basin because of terminal moraines deposited by the glaciers.

The average flow of water of the Chemung River, measured at Chemung, N.Y. is 2,623 cubic feet per second with a minimum of 113 cubic feet per second and a maximum of 65,400 cubic feet per second.

The river has been subjected to heavy flooding, the worst episode occurring in 1972, with Hurricane Agnes and 20 inches of rain. Elmira lost all four of its downtown bridges (Madison, Lake, Main and Walnut streets) as well as the Erie Railroad Bridge. The Lowman Crossover and White Wagon bridges were also washed out. The White Wagon Bridge was never rebuilt, leaving Chemung County Route 56 split in two sections. In the last decade, there has been renewed interest in the development of the recreational resources of the Chemung River Basin.

Cowanesque River is a 41.4-mile-long tributary of the Tioga River in Potter and Tioga counties, Pa., and Steuben County NY. It joins the Tioga River soon after crossing from Pennsylvania into New York, near the borough of Lawrenceville, Pa.

The Cowanesque River name comes from an Iroquois word, Go-wan-is-que, meaning "briary or thorn bushy", or from, Ka-hwe-nes-ka ("on the long island"). In Tioga County, the Cowanesque Dam was constructed in 1980 by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The dam created Cowanesque Lake, which helps prevent flooding within the valley. The 1,085-acre lake also facilitates various forms of recreation; the Tompkins Recreation Area and Campground is located along the lake's north shore, and the south shore hosts two day-use areas.
Canisteo River is a 61-mile-long tributary of the Tioga River in western New York. It rises in the hills of northern Allegany County, near Dansville. It flows east into northern Steuben County, then generally southeast past Hornell and Canisteo. It joins the Tioga from the west in southeastern Steuben County, approximately 10 miles (16 km) north of the Pennsylvania state line and five miles (8 km) southwest of Corning. The name of the river comes from an Iroquois word  meaning either "pickerel" or "head of water."
In the 19th century the river valley was the site of an early timber industry. Logs were floated down the river after being cut. As on other rivers in the Susquehanna basin, transportation on the Canisteo before the middle of the19th century was often accomplished by arks up to 75 feet long. The headwaters of the Canisteo were the farthest navigable headwaters of ark navigation in the Susquehanna watershed.

Susquehanna River: It is one of the oldest existing rivers in the world and a major river in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. At 444 miles long, it is the longest river on the East Coast. It’s watershed is the 16th largest river in the U.S., and the longest river in the early 21st-century continental United States without commercial boat traffic.
Susquehanna comes from the Len'api (or Delaware Indian) term Sisa'we'hak'hanna, meaning Oyster River. Oyster beds were widespread in the bay near the mouth of the river, which the Lenape farmed, leaving large piles of old oyster shells.
The Susquehanna River forms from two main branches: the North Branch, which begins at Otsego Lake in Cooperstown N.Y., and is regarded by federal mapmakers as the main branch or headwaters, and the West Branch, which rises in Athens, Pa., and joins the main branch near Northumberland in central Pennsylvania.

The river watershed drains 27,500 square miles of land, including nearly half of the land area of Pennsylvania. The watershed includes portions of the Allegheny Plateau region of the Appalachian Mountains, cutting through a succession of water gaps in a broad zigzag course to flow across the rural heartland of southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland in the lateral near-parallel array of mountain ridges. The river empties into the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay at Perryville and Havre de Grace, MD, providing half of the bay's freshwater inflow.
Both branches and the lower Susquehanna were part of important regional transportation corridors. The river was extensively used for muscle-powered ferries, boats, and canal boat shipping of bulk goods in the brief decades before the Pennsylvania canal system was eclipsed by the coming of age of steam-powered railways.

“One of the natural laws is that you’ve got to keep things pure. Especially the water. Keeping the water pure is one of the first laws of life. If you destroy the water you destroy life.” -Oren Lyons, Onondaga Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Haudenosaunee