Field Trip: Kinzua Reflections

tree bricks allegheny reservoir lost tribe trees

This past weekend included a field trip. With another birthday coming up way too quickly, I wanted to slow down and reflect on how I can make more everyday connections with the land.

The area around Kinzua (KEN-zoo-uh) dam is riddled with controversy.  Namely, a treaty was violated in the 1960s to flood the LAST piece of Native American (Seneca) land in Pennsylvania in order to protect downstream Pittsburgh from having downtown [banks are the only thing I found quantified] flooded at its lower elevation.

The village was evacuated and any buildings and trees were left to become engulfed in the rising water as the Allegheny River continued to flood the area formerly known as the Cornplanter tract into what is now known as Allegheny Reservoir.  Chief Guyasuta, who had worked with George Washington to establish the treaty 200 years prior in Pittsburgh’s Highland Park (not where the current memorial statue is erected), was buried in the mountains above the flooded tract. We spent several hours hiking around there and identifying rare and native plants.

With  our global climate changing, the water levels are receding and the stumps of trees and brick foundations are easily seen near the Red bridge campground where we stayed overnight.  The reflection of the living trees with their fall colors reads like a memory.  

And then, there’s the bridge that used to carry freight trains from mountain top to mountain top above the river, that was blown down in a 2003 tornado.  It is compelling that nature is so powerful and vulnerable at the same time.

My interest in this topic is not exhausted and my research is not comprehensive, but I used my visit along with past stewardship projects, library and online resources to shape this perspective.

#kinzuadam #kinzuabridge #nativeamerican #alleghenyreservoir #pittsburghflood