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Chesapeake Bay News


Tributary Tuesday: Canisteo River (Hornell, Ny.)

In the late 1700s, European and American settlers arrived in the Canisteo watershed in southwestern New York. They cut down nearly 70 percent of the trees in the region and began farming. The Canisteo watershed remained an important region for the nineteenth century early timber industry, but excessive logging and ensuing development drained nearly all of the river’s wetlands.

A view of green trees over the Canisteo River in spring or summer.

 (Image courtesy mediafury/Flickr)

Today, many hillsides have been reforested, creating a colorful view during peak fall foliage. The few marshes that dot the valley today serve as reminders of the Canisteo of the early 18th century. The river’s beauty still entertains nature photographers, kayakers, whitewater rafters, and hikers alike.

The 61-mile long tributary of the Tioga River gets its name from a Native American word for “head of water,” an appropriate name for this Susquehanna “headwaters” stream. Rising in the hills of northern Allegany County, the Canisteo flows through a valley of steep hillsides and farmland before joining the Tioga just above the New York/Pennsylvania state line.

The Canisteo flows by mountainsides in the summertime.

(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

More from the Canisteo River:

About Caitlin Finnerty - Caitlin Finnerty is the Communications Staffer at the Chesapeake Research Consortium and Chesapeake Bay Program. Caitlin grew up digging for dinosaur bones and making mud pies in Harrisburg, Pa. Her fine arts degree landed her environmental field work jobs everywhere from Oregon to Maryland. Now settled in Baltimore, she is eagerly expecting her first child while creating an urban garden oasis on her cement patio.



Robert Varricchio says:
June 02, 2015

    The Chemung river high water flood marks in Corning NY are a frightening reminder of what can happen when a prolonged heavy rain, such as a coastal hurricane, hits the watershed of those 4 or five rivers, with the interesting Indian names, that converge just west of that city.

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