Monday, August 23, 2021

Kinzua Dam a Fall Destination Reviewed


Kinzua Dam a Fall Destination Reviewed
A scenic view in October from Kinzua Area

Fall will be upon us. Sunny cool days and the leaves will be turning so many beautiful colors. We live in Western New York not far from the Kinzua Dam.

Every year when the leaves are at their peak, we take the drive down I86 East, from there we take some back roads into Pennsylvania, through the Allegheny National Forest to the Kinzua Area, the ride is breathtakingly scenic.

If you are in the process of planning a fall vacation, consider the Kinzua Dam. The dam is located about 6 miles east of Warren Pennsylvania, along route 59 nestled in the 500,000 acres of the Allegheny National Forest. I’m going to include a little history and all the fun activities in the Kinzua area.

So, if you like camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, boating, or just relaxing and taking in the views it’s all here at Kinzua. If you’re the outdoors type pack your bags and get ready for some breathtaking views and fun. First here is some history of the area.

Kinzua Dam Construction and Why:

Kinzua Dam

Construction began in 1960 by the US Army Corps of Engineers and was completed in 1965. The main purpose of the dam was for flood control on the Allegheny River. Kinzua controls drainage on a watershed of 2,180 square miles.

Several side benefits from the construction of the dam include drought control, hydroelectric power production, and recreation. The dam created Pennsylvania’s deepest lake, the Allegheny Reservoir, also known as Kinzua Lake.

The cost was approximately $108 million. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, the dam paid for itself in 1972 when tropical storm Agnes’s heavy rains on the watershed brought the reservoir to within three feet of its maximum capacity.

Downstream flood damage would have been devastating at an estimated $247 million. The Kinzua Dam has saved an estimated $1 billion in flood damages since it became operational.

Recreation at Kinzua Dam:

There are many recreational activities at the Allegheny Reservoir and the surrounding area. If you’re the outdoors type, then there is something here for you. Along the reservoir, there is camping, boating, fishing, hiking, and a beach. If you’re the winter type there is snowmobiling and cross country skiing along the trails.

The US Forest Service has four reservoir campgrounds and five primitive (boat to or hike only) camping areas. Most of the recreation areas surround Allegheny Lake.

We love to go there any time of the year and soak in the beautiful scenery and walk the trails. Since we live in Western New York, which is not so far from Kinzua, it’s a nice drive, especially in the fall.

Hiking Trails and Beautiful Scenic Views

Kinzua Hiking Trails

There are many scenic overlooks at Kinzua. There are two areas that we never miss and never tire of visiting, they are Jake’s Rock and Rim Rock. The intro photo of this article was taken from Rim Rock.

The views from these overlooks are beautiful any time of the year, but we prefer to go in the fall when the views are breathtaking. We have been there many times and it’s always the same, “Beautiful”

Did You Know That Johnny Cash recorded a song about the Kinzua Dam?

As a tribute to the Seneca Nation of Indians, Johnny Cash recorded, As Long as the Grass Will Grow. The construction of the Dam forced 600 Seneca Indians to relocate because 10,000 acres of their land had to be flooded.

This land had been occupied by the Seneca Nation since the treaty of 1794. President Kennedy had been asked to halt the project but declined because of the need for flood control.

President Kennedy ordered government agencies to assist in finding land for the placement of the Seneca Nation of Indians.

If you are a fan on Johnny Cash here is the song

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  1. Sam, wow I had no idea this place existed. It's gorgeous! That walking trail and that dam photo and the intro photo are outstanding. Would love to see this in person.

  2. The Kinzua Dam Allegany area sounds like a wonderful Fall destination. Your photos of the Autumn leaves are gorgeous. I've traveled from NY to PA many times, but always from the Rochester, NY area down Route 5 & 20 toward Harrisburg, PA. So have missed the Allegheny National Forest area altogether. By your photos and descriptions it looks to be a beautiful area to visit.

    I looked up to see that the displaced Seneca Nation was relocated to Salamanca, NY located at the head of the Allegheny Reservoir. Interesting to hear the song Johnny Cash recorded about the plight of the Seneca Indians.

  3. Sam, I hadn’t heard of the Kinzua Dam before. What gorgeous photos, helpful descriptions and interesting history you have shared! I would love to visit after reading your review. My late parents owned a home in Clinton Corners, NY (not too far from Rhinebeck) as their weekend retreat when we lived in Manhattan and I remember how glorious the fall foliage was.

  4. Sam, this looks like a wonderful place for a fall excursion. Thanks also for the history. I enjoyed hearing Johnny Cash's song. Very interesting.

  5. What a beautiful place! I know my husband and I will enjoy visiting there the next time we are up New York way. It looks like a wonderful alternate travel plan for us to see something different. Plus, we love hiking.

    Johnny Cash was always a consummate storyteller. He will certainly make one stop and think. I can understand why the Seneca Indians would rename it Lake Perfidy and how they would have been angered and hurt by the dam decision.

    In our own time, we know how treaties and agreements honorably made in the past are broken or changed to reflect the more immediate needs. Logically, we all recognize there are more people on the earth, and certainly in American now than there were in 1794. Plus,while my heart goes out to the Seneca, I know it isn't just the Indians who are displaced when a local or federal government determines an area is needed for something different. Land is "force purchased" from anyone for roads, highways, railroads, government buildings, public utilities, etc.

  6. Sam, the minute that we decide that we are going somewhere, I think I will take this trip through this beautiful area. I love fall colors and the changing of the season! This could be a new way down to Florida for me! Thanks Sam for putting this on my map of places to go!

  7. Oh now I want to fly over and visit this gorgeous place! What wonderful walks and trails and we could spend many happy days here I think. Thank you for the interesting history and understanding of the area. I love your beautiful autumnal photos with the brilliant rich colours, truly lovely.


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