The Teays River // was a major preglacial river that drained much of the present Ohio River watershed, but took a more northerly downstream course. Traces of the Teays across northern Ohio and Indiana are represented by a network of river valleys. These valleys were carved in the late Cenozoic[clarification needed] and eventually developed into the present-day Ohio River. The largest still existing contributor to the former Teays River is the Kanawha River in West Virginia, which is itself an extension of the New River.
Course and fate
The Teays River was a north- and northwest-flowing river existing prior to the Pleistocene Ice Ages – before 2.5 million years ago. The Teays flowed through southwest West Virginia, between Kentucky and Ohio, and northwest across Ohio (see illustration). The Teays then flowed under what is present-day Lafayette, Indiana and just north of Champaign, Illinois, and likely was coincident with the lower present-day Illinois River.
The Teays River was dissected and largely wiped away by advancing glaciers and their meltwater. These glaciers were the massive continental ice sheets that began to cover large parts of Ohio and other states downstream (west) of Ohio between 2.5 and 3 million years ago. Their presence caused lakes (Glacial Lake Tight, Glacial Lake Monongahela, etc.) to form along the Teays and associated rivers. Overflow of these lakes into nearby, lower valleys caused large floods and new rivers to form. These new rivers – formed about 2 million years ago – included the present-day Ohio and Scioto Rivers, which are associated with the most direct evidence of the Teays.
Visual remains of the Teays River today include large valleys containing only small streams (such as the mile-wide valley from Huntington to St. Albans in West Virginia and the valley extending north from Wheelersburg in Ohio). These valleys can be seen on aerial and satellite images. However, short segments of some such valleys are still occupied by the Ohio and Scioto Rivers. The Scioto flows through the valley in the opposite direction (south) to that taken by the Teays (north).
The present Ohio-Mississippi river system contains some distinctive relict fish populations descended from Jurassic Period fishes of the Teays, such as the primitive bowfin (Amia calva) and various gars (Lepisosteus spp).
The Teays River was discovered and named for the village of Teays, West Virginia by geologist William G. Tight (1865–1910). The small community is in the "riverless" Teays Valley that used to be the bottom of the Teays River.
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- Sullivan, Walter (1983-11-29). "A Great Lost River Gets Its Due". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-19. "[William G. Tight] called it the Teays (pronounced taze) River, for a village in West Virginia."
- Ohio DNR: Geofacts: THE TEAYS RIVER
- Wright, G. Frederick (1894), "The Cincinnati Ice Dam", The Popular Science Monthly, June issue, pp. 184–198.