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Waterways

Allegany Watersheds

From the Alfred Sun, January 25, 1940.
Transcribed by Karen Meisenheimer.


From the column, "PEAKS OF ALLEGANY"

By Hubert D. Bliss
(Jan. 25, 1940)


Allegany County can rightly be called “The meeting place of the great waters.” Because the cycle that sends the water from all Allegany County rainstorm to the three remote water boundaries of the continent begins right on our own hilltops. From that beginning mighty oceans come. And only in Allegany County can a storm find such a common meeting ground, so far as the Empire State is concerned.

 

From this meeting follows the dispersal along the ever-widening distance until the raindrops from Allegany County hills find themselves mingled at last with those great waters at varying part of the compass – the Atlantic, St. Lawrence Gulf and Mexico Gulf. So the waters that had a common meeting spot back in the hills of Old Allegany link the Empire State with the eastern half of the North American continent as no other county does.

 

Watersheds provide one of the great physical features that rate Allegany County distinctly at the peak in the Empire State. Allegany is the only county in the entire state whose waters reach the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In no more emphatic way is significance given to the elevations attained by this highland county.

By the Genesee River, water flows north to Lake Ontario, thence into the St. Lawrence River and the mighty Gulf of St. Lawrence.

By tributaries of the Susquehanna River, water flows southeast into Steuben and other Southern Tier counties, across Pennsylvania and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean through Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

Also by tributaries of the Allegheny River, water flows west to the Ohio River at Pittsburgh, thence to the Mississippi and south by the Father of Waters to the Gulf of Mexico.

And Allegany County shares the distinction of contributing water to the three master water boundaries of the entire eastern half of the North American continent with one single county in the nation – our neighboring Potter County across the Pennsylvania border. Together the two counties represent the peaks of their respective states and the nation as the meeting place for the far-flung watersheds of the eastern part of the continent.

Incidentally, it can be noted that one source gives the elevation where the Allegheny River rises in Pennsylvania at 2,500 feet. So heights of 2,300 feet and somewhat upward are the higher points from which water flows to the great watersheds from Allegany County.

Of the three watersheds, however, that of the Genesee alone has river flowage through Allegany County. Others have tributary links from border points in the county.

Hence one finds creeks from the towns of Alfred, Almond and Andover on the eastern border flowing into the Canisteo River in Steuben County, from whence they reach the Susquehanna River far away in Pennsylvania. Some of these towns have creeks into the Genesee also.

In the southwestern part of the county are the towns that contribute to the Allegheny River, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Chief of these are Bolivar, Wirt, Genesee and Alma, although Wirt and Alma mark major divides from one side of which water flows into the Genesee River. Water flowing west from these towns reaches the Allegheny River near Portville, Cattaraugus County.

In the case of both the Allegheny and the Genesee Rivers, the flowage from Allegany County is into rivers that have their source in Potter County. Both rivers rise south, to southwest, of Wellsville.

Because the Genesee River alone of any river flows through Allegany County, as its major drainage basin, the importance of this river to the county is most pronounced. From the point where the Genesee River enters Allegany County on the south, just below Genesee, Pa., it traverses the entire south to north terrain of the county to emerge on the north border beyond Fillmore.

Hence it is that Allegany County associations generally are linked primarily with the Genesee Country. Within Allegany County lies the Empire State headwaters for the scenic Genesee. Sectional ties abound therein.

But the pattern that so distinctly gives Allegany County a unique peak among Empire State counties, due to the meanderings of its streams, is defined by the fact that it alone among all counties in the state sends its waters into the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Indeed Allegany County rises to its peak in this physical structure of its watersheds. Thereby it becomes the Empire State link with the three mighty water boundaries of the eastern half of the North American continent. It is the great New York State crossroads as applies to watersheds. It is the fountain of great waters.

So we may hail Allegany County as “The Watershed Peak of the Empire State.”

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