Kinzua Dam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kinzua Dam
Allegheny National Forest PA Kinzua Dam1.jpg
Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River
Official name Kinzua Dam
Location Allegheny National Forest
Glade Township / Mead Township, Warren County, PA, USA
Coordinates 41°50′16.01″N 79°0′10.82″W / 41.8377806°N 79.0030056°W / 41.8377806; -79.0030056Coordinates: 41°50′16.01″N 79°0′10.82″W / 41.8377806°N 79.0030056°W / 41.8377806; -79.0030056
Construction began 1960
Opening date 1965
Operator(s) Army Corps of Engineers
Dam and spillways
Impounds Allegheny River
Height 179 feet (55 m)
Length 1,897 feet (578 m)
Width (base) 1,245 feet (379 m)
Creates Allegheny Reservoir
Total capacity 1,300,000 acre feet (1.6 km3)
Active capacity 573,000 acre feet (0.707 km3)

The Kinzua Dam, in the Allegheny National Forest in Warren County, Pennsylvania, is one of the largest dams in the United States east of the Mississippi River.[not verified in body]

The dam is located 6 miles (10 km) east of Warren, Pennsylvania, along Route 59, within the 500,000-acre (200,000 ha) Allegheny National Forest. A boat marina and beach are located within the dam boundaries. In addition to providing flood control and power generation, the dam created Pennsylvania's deepest lake, the Allegheny Reservoir, also known as Kinzua Lake.[citation needed]


Authorized by the Flood Control Acts of 1936 and 1938, actual construction on the dam was begun by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1960 and completed in 1965. The main purpose of the dam is flood control on the Allegheny River. Kinzua controls drainage on a watershed of 2,180 square miles (5,650 km2), an area twice the size of the state of Rhode Island. Side benefits derived from the dam include drought control, hydroelectric power production, and recreation.[1][2][3]

Engineering data[edit]

  • Length of dam: 1,877 feet (572 m)
  • Maximum height of dam: 179 feet (55 m)
  • Earthfill: 3,000,000 cubic yards (2,300,000 m³)
  • Concrete: 500,000 cubic yards (380,000 m³)
  • Penstocks (pipes through dam): Eight 5’-8” x 10’ discharge sluices and two hydroelectric penstocks, 15 feet (4.6 m) in diameter
  • Hydroelectric generating capacity: 400 megawatts
  • Construction Costs: $108,000,000


The total cost of construction was approximately $108 million. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, Kinzua more than paid for itself in 1972 when tropical storm Agnes dumped continual heavy rains on the watershed, bringing the reservoir to within three feet of its maximum storage capacity. Downstream flood damages of an estimated $247 million were avoided. The dam at Kinzua has prevented an estimated $1 billion in flood damages since becoming operational.[1]

Seneca Pumped Storage Generating Station[edit]

Seneca Pumped Storage Generating Station on the left, looking down river

Immediately above the downstream side of the dam is the Seneca Pumped Storage Generating Station, a hydroelectric power plant using pumped storage to accommodate peak electrical load by storing potential energy in water pumped into an upper reservoir by using base load electricity, then reclaiming that energy when it is needed by allowing the water to fall back down and drive generators along the way.


The Allegheny Reservoir and surrounding area have been opened up for a variety of recreational activities such as camping, hiking, snowmobiling and boating along the reservoir. The US Forest Service created four highly developed reservoir campgrounds, along with five primitive (boat to or hike only) camping areas. Several scenic overlooks with miles of hiking trails and information centers were also constructed along the reservoir.[4] Much of Allegheny National Recreation Area surrounds Allegheny Lake.[5] In addition, the Seneca Nation maintains a fully developed campground on their reservation at the northern end of the reservoir in New York.[1]


Native Americans[edit]

Construction of the dam condemned 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) of the Allegheny Reservation granted in the Treaty of Canandaigua (signed by President Washington),[6] forcing relocation of 600 Seneca. In 1961, citing the immediate need for flood control, President John F. Kennedy denied a request by the Seneca to halt construction.[7] The Seneca lost a 1964 appeal over the relocation of a four-lane highway through the remaining portion of the reservation.[8]

A Pennsylvania land grant to the Seneca leader Cornplanter was also condemned. His descendants had already moved to Salamanca, New York, near the northern shore of the Allegheny Reservoir.[9]

In 1964, the American country singer Johnny Cash recorded the song "As Long as the Grass Shall Grow" (composed by the Native American folk singer Peter La Farge) about the Senecas' plight; the Seneca nation's owned-and-operated radio station, WGWE, plays the song at least once a week in remembrance, as does WPIG, the local country music station. The folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie also mentions the Kinzua Dam in her songs "Now That the Buffalo's Gone" (recorded in 1964) and "My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying" (recorded in 1966).[10]

Elimination of Corydon and Kinzua[edit]

The construction of the dam and the filling of the Allegheny Reservoir also necessitated the elimination of the small village of Corydon (1960 population: 165), which was located at the confluence of Willow Creek with the Allegheny River, the small village of Kinzua (1960 population: 458), which was located at the confluence of Kinzua Creek with the Allegheny River, and the hamlet of Onoville (in South Valley, New York, 1960 population unknown), and the hamlet of Quaker Bridge, located at the western edge of Allegany State Park on New York State Route 280. All residents were forced out through eminent domain and required to relocate.[11] The town of Elko, New York was also evacuated and its incorporation revoked in 1965; its territory is now part of Allegany State Park.

The creation of the dam also forced the displacement of Camp Olmsted, owned by the Chief Cornplanter Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The campsite had been located on bottomland along the Allegheny River but dam construction forced it to be moved up the hillside.

Filmmaker Paul Lamont is currently producing a documentary, "Lake of Betrayal: The Story of Kinzua Dam" interviewing descendants of Native Americans forced from the homes razed during the construction of the dam. [12]


  1. ^ a b c U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Kinzua Dam and Allegheny Reservoir
  2. ^ Indiana University of Pennsylvania - Libraries - Congressman John P. Saylor
  3. ^ Rhode Island QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau
  4. ^ Allegheny National Forest - About Us - Forest Facts
  5. ^ "Special Places". Allegheny National Forest. U.S. Forest Service. 
  6. ^ Seneca Nation of Indians v. United States, 262 F. 2d 27 (1958), retrieved February 3, 2011
  7. ^ Kennedy, John F. (August 9, 1961), "Letter to the President of the Seneca Nation of Indians Concerning the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River", retrieved February 3, 2011
  8. ^ Seneca Nation of Indians v. United States, 338 F. 2d 55 (1964), retrieved February 3, 2011
  9. ^ "Chief Cornplanter", Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, retrieved February 3, 2011
  10. ^ Bilharz, Joy A. (2002). The Allegany Senecas and Kinzua Dam: Forced Relocation Through Two Generations. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-8032-6203-4. 
  11. ^ Hoover, William E. (2005). Kinzua: From Cornplanter to the Corps. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-595-38116-6. 
  12. ^ "Vision Maker Media Announces Public Media Content Fund Awards"; July 17, 2013


  • Weist, Katherine, 2001. "For the Public Good: Native Americans, Hydroelectric Dams, and the Iron Triangle," in Trusteeship in Change: Toward Tribal Autonomy in Resource Management, eds. R. L. Clow and I. Sutton (Boulder: University Press of Colorado), pp. 55–72.

External links[edit]