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Licking River (Ohio) facts for kids

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Licking River
Licking River ohio.jpg
Country US
Physical characteristics
Main source Newark in Licking County
800 ft (240 m)
River mouth Muskingum River in Zanesville
680 ft (210 m)
Basin features
Basin size 779 sq mi (2,020 km2)
Map of the Muskingum River watershed showing the Licking River
Geography of Ohio - DPLA - aaba7b3295ff6973b6fd1e23e33cde14 (page 133) (cropped) (cropped)
Historic view of the Licking River from "Geography of Ohio," 1923

The Licking River is a tributary of the Muskingum River, about 40 mi (65 km) long, in central Ohio in the United States. Via the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.


The Licking River is formed at Newark in Licking County by the confluence of its north and south forks including many other small fishable streams.

  • The North Fork Licking River, about 35 mi (55 km) long, rises in southwestern Morrow County and initially flows generally east-southeastwardly through Knox County, past Centerburg, into Licking County, where at Utica it turns southwardly and flows past St. Louisville. In Licking County, the North Fork collects the Otter Fork Licking River, which rises in Knox County and flows past Hartford; the Lake Fork Licking River; and the Clear Fork Licking River. The Lake and Clear forks both flow for their entire lengths in Licking County.
  • The South Fork Licking River, about 30 mi (50 km) long, rises in southwestern Licking County and initially flows southeastwardly past Pataskala and Kirkersville and briefly enters Fairfield County, where it turns northeastwardly back into Licking County and flows past Heath.

From Newark, the Licking River flows generally eastwardly through the Black Hand Gorge State Nature Preserve into Muskingum County, where it turns southeastwardly. It joins the Muskingum River at Zanesville; the confluence of the two rivers is spanned by a Y-shaped bridge.

Upstream of Zanesville, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam causes the river to form Dillon Lake, along which an Ohio state park is located.

Flow rate

River Location Time period Annual mean discharge
North Fork Licking River USGS stream gauge in Newark Water years 2011-2019 324.3 cu ft/s (9.18 m3/s)
South Fork Licking River USGS stream gauge in Heath Water years 2011-2019 263.9 cu ft/s (7.47 m3/s)
Raccoon Creek (tributary of South Fork) USGS stream gauge in Newark Water years 2011-2019 166.1 cu ft/s (4.70 m3/s)
Licking River USGS stream gauge near Dillon Falls Water years 1985-1991 922.2 cu ft/s (26.11 m3/s)
Licking River mouth (Zanesville) 976.9 cu ft/s (27.66 m3/s) (estimate)

Johnny Appleseed

Jonathan Chapman (1775-1843), aka Johnny Appleseed, planted his first apple orchard near Licking Creek. He took a load of apple seed from Pennsylvania cider presses into the Territory of Ohio in 1801, according to a Harper magazine article written in November 1871, "Johnny Appleseed - A Pioneer Hero" by W.D. Haley (pp. 830–836).

Long, long after, When settlers put up beam and rafter, They asked of the birds, "Who gave this fruit? Who watched this fence till the seeds took root? Who gave these boughs?" They asked the sky, And there was no reply. But the robin might have said, "To the farthest west he has followed the sun, His life and his empire just begun." Self-scourged, like a monk, with a throne for wages, Stripped, like the iron-souled Hindu sages, Draped like a statue, in strings like a scarecrow, His helmet-hat an old tin pan, But worn in the love of the heart of man, More sane than the helm of Tamerlane! Hairy Ainu, wild man of Borneo, Robinson Crusoe - Johnny Appleseed!

And the robin might have said, "Sowing he goes to the far new West, With the apple, the sun of his burning breast- The apple allied to the thorn, Child of the rose."

Variant names

According to the Geographic Names Information System, the Licking River has also been known as:

  • Licking Creek
  • Nepepenime Sepe
  • Pataskala Creek
  • Pataskala River
  • Salt Lick Creek
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