Three River Rise

[as always, please click on photos to enhance image]

Two of the six major watershed divides in North America meet at a point near my home. The St. Lawrence and the Eastern Continental divides lock together on a hill near Gold, Pennsylvania. This 2502-foot hill in Potter County (occasionally referred to as “Headwaters Mountain”) has a triple watershed divide. The hill gives rise to three of my favorite trout streams: the Genesee River, the Allegheny River, and Pine Creek.

The Genesee River flows northward from the hill (oddly enough) into New York State and empties into Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence seaway. The Allegheny River flows westerly from the hill for 325 miles to merge with the Monongahela in Pittsburgh, thus forming the big Ohio. The Allegheny-Ohio merges with the Mississippi and bottoms out in the Gulf of Mexico. Pine Creek has a southerly flow from the hill to mingle with the West Branch Susquehanna and, later, the Chesapeake Bay. Pine Creek, 87 miles long, has been referred to as “the biggest creek in the U.S.”          

The headwaters of these streams form the only triple divide point east of the Mississippi. The only other triple divide point in America, as far as I’m aware, is located in Glacier National Park. Each of the rivers forming on the hill near Gold, PA has a beauty all its own.  New York’s Genesee has Letchworth State Park, the “Grand Canyon of the East.” Pine Creek has an equally impressive canyon  southwest of Wellsboro. The Allegheny River has a stretch of “wild and scenic water.” It’s a great area for a trout-bumming, rivertop-rambling person to explore.

Over the years I’ve watched these rivers rise in my thoughts and care. As the new year develops I’ll revisit them and share the miles with you.

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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5 Responses to Three River Rise

  1. AK says:

    Thanks for the beautiful photography and interpretive musings, which offer an effective way to alert people to the value of protecting the rivers that begin in the triple divide headwaters region. Thanks also for your work with the local Trout Unlimited chapter in working to protect the upper Genesee River. Probably you know of the Genesee River Wilds Project and the plans described on its website for the Triple Divide Trail System. But if not, you and your readers will appreciate that these efforts will add further protections to the streams in your photos.

  2. Thanks A. K., and yes the Wilds Project sounds like a great idea to get more people involved with an appreciation of this unique area and to work for its protection.

  3. Floyd B. Johnson says:

    Mr. Franklin,
    Thanks for posting the piece on the triple point divide. I am with you on that place being very special. Several years ago I visited it and noticed a large tower I was told collecting data for a possible wind farm. Also at the time the large parcel that contains the actual triple point was for sale.
    Did wind mills ever get placed there?
    Did someone buy the land?

    Floyd Johnson

  4. T.S. says:

    Hey Walt,
    Great Photos of these watersheds; my parents have lived in Genesee, well, all their lives and I have spent much time with my brother fishing in these streams, particularly the west branch of the Genesee. Thanks again Walt!

  5. T.S.,
    Great to hear from someone who knows these waters on a first-hand basis. Hope to meet you on the stream someday. Did you see my photo of last week’s brookie caught/released on the W. Branch Gen?

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