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Allegheny River
Freeport bridge.jpg
The Allegheny River, looking upstream at Freeport, Pennsylvania
Country United States
State Pennsylvania, New York
Physical characteristics
Main source Allegany Township, Potter County, near Coudersport, Pennsylvania at the corner of Ben Green and Cobb Hill Rd
2,450 feet (750 m)
41°52′22″N 77°52′30″W / 41.8728449°N 77.874998°W / 41.8728449; -77.874998
River mouth Ohio River at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
712 feet (217 m)
40°26′36″N 80°00′54″W / 40.4434025°N 80.0150536°W / 40.4434025; -80.0150536
Length 325 miles (523 km)
Basin features
Progression Allegheny River → Ohio RiverMississippi RiverGulf of Mexico
Basin size 11,580 square miles (30,000 km2)
Type: Recreational
Designated: April 20, 1992

The Allegheny River ( AL-ə-GAY-nee) is a 325-mile (523 km) long headwater stream of the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania and New York, United States. The Allegheny River runs from its headwaters just below the middle of Pennsylvania's northern border northwesterly into New York then in a zigzag southwesterly across the border and through Western Pennsylvania to join the Monongahela River at the Forks of the Ohio on the "Point" of Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Allegheny River is, by volume, the main headstream of both the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Historically, the Allegheny was considered to be the upper Ohio River by both Native Americans and European settlers.

The shallow river has been made navigable upstream from Pittsburgh to East Brady by a series of locks and dams constructed in the early 20th century. A 24-mile long portion of the upper river in Warren and McKean counties of Pennsylvania and Cattaraugus County in New York is the Allegheny Reservoir also known as Lake Kinzua, created by the erection of the Kinzua Dam in 1965 for flood control.

The name of the river comes from one of a number of Delaware Indian phrases which are homophones of the English name, with varying translations.


Allegheny River Bend
Much of the Allegheny River's course is through hilly woodlands.

The Allegheny River rises in north central Pennsylvania, on Cobb Hill in Alleghany Township in north central Potter County, 8 miles (16 km) south of the New York border and a few miles northwest of the eastern triple divide. The stream flows south and passes under Pennsylvania Route 49 11 miles northeast of Coudersport where a historical marker that declares the start of the river is located. Cobb Hill is about a mile north. The stream flows southwest paralleling Route 49 to Coudersport. It continues west to Port Allegany then turns north into western New York, looping westward across southern Cattaraugus County for approximately 30 miles (48 km), past Portville, Olean, Allegany and Salamanca and flowing through Seneca Indian Nation lands close to the northern boundary of Allegany State Park before re-entering northwestern Pennsylvania within the Allegheny Reservoir just east of the Warren-McKean county line, approx. 10 miles (32 km) northeast of Warren.

It flows in a broad zigzag course generally southwest across Western Pennsylvania; first flowing southwest past Warren, Tidioute, Tionesta, Oil City, and Franklin, forming much of the northwestern boundary of Allegheny National Forest. South of Franklin it turns southeast across Clarion County in a meandering course, then turns again southwest across Armstrong County, flowing past Kittanning, Ford City, Clinton, and Freeport.

USACE Lock and Dam 2 Allegheny
The Highland Park Bridge crosses the Allegheny River at Aspinwall, Pennsylvania, just above Allegheny River Lock and Dam No. 2.

The river enters both Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, the Pittsburgh suburbs, and the City of Pittsburgh from the northeast. It passes the North Side, downtown Pittsburgh, and Point State Park. The Allegheny joins with the Monongahela River at the "Point" in downtown Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River.


Headwater Stream (1)
The headwaters of the Allegheny River are in this meadow in Potter County
The Allegheny River drainage basin covers parts of New York and Pennsylvania in the United States.

The river is approximately 325 miles (523 km) long, running through the U.S. states of New York and Pennsylvania. It drains a rural dissected plateau of 11,580 square miles (30,000 km2) in the northern Allegheny Plateau, providing the northeastern most drainage in the watershed of the Mississippi River. Its tributaries reach to within 8 miles (13 km) of Lake Erie in southwestern New York.

Water from the Allegheny River eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

The Allegheny Valley has been one of the most productive areas of fossil fuel extraction in United States history, with its extensive deposits of coal, petroleum, and natural gas.


In its upper reaches, the Allegheny River is joined from the south by Potato Creek 1.7 miles (2.7 km) downstream of Coryville, Pennsylvania and from the north by Olean Creek at Olean, New York. Tunungwant "Tuna" Creek joins the river from the south in Carrollton, New York (flowing north from Bradford, Pennsylvania); the Great Valley Creek and Little Valley Creek join the river from the north at Salamanca, New York before becoming the Allegheny Reservoir.

After re-entering Pennsylvania, the river is joined from the east by Kinzua Creek 10 miles (16 km) upstream of Warren; from the north by Conewango Creek at Warren; from the west by Brokenstraw Creek; from the east by East Hickory Creek at East Hickory; from the east by Tionesta Creek at Tionesta; from the north by Oil Creek at Oil City; from the west by French Creek at Franklin; from the east by the Clarion River, a principal tributary, at Parker; from the east by Crooked Creek southeast of Kittanning; and from the east by the Kiskiminetas River, another principal tributary, at Schenley. Buffalo Creek enters at Freeport, Chartiers Run enters at Lower Burrell, Bull Creek enters at Tarentum, Pucketa Creek enters near New Kensington, Riddle Run enters at Springdale, and Girtys Run enters at Millvale. Many additional streams enter or join with the Allegheny River along its course.

Locks, dams and bridges

Allegheny Islands State Park, C.W. Bill Young Lock and Dam
The eastern part of Allegheny Islands State Park and the C. W. Bill Young Lock and Dam (No. 3) on the Allegheny River

Several locks were built in the early 20th century to make the Allegheny River navigable for 72 miles upstream from Pittsburgh to East Brady.

The Allegheny River has eight locks and fixed-crest dams numbered two through nine: Allegheny River Lock and Dam No. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 which form corresponding reservoirs.

The river is also impounded by the Kinzua Dam in northwestern Pennsylvania, resulting in the Allegheny Reservoir also known as Kinzua Lake and Lake Perfidy among the Seneca. The Seneca Pumped Storage Generating Station is associated with Kinzua Dam.

Numerous bridges and tunnels span the river throughout its course. The Allegheny River Tunnel, utilized by Pittsburgh Light Rail, went into service in 2012.

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