West Canada Creek

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West Canada Creek
Origin Hinckley Reservoir
Mouth Mohawk River
Location New York
Length 76-mile-long (122 km)

The West Canada Creek is a 76-mile-long (122 km)[1] river in upstate New York, USA. West Canada Creek drains the south part of the Adirondack Mountains and empties into the Mohawk River near the Village of Herkimer. The name "Canada" is derived from a native word for "village" (Kanata).

West Canada Creek is an important water way in Oneida County and Herkimer County.

A dam north of Prospect in Oneida County helps form the artificial lake called the Hinckley Reservoir. It was named after a community in Oneida County at its western end. The dam took 4 years and 500 workers to get built.[2] It cost $985,000 to build, and was finished in 1911.

The West Canada as a creek is deceiving in name - as it appears more powerful and massive as a River would. The series of waterfalls in the Prospect gorge, principally Trenton Falls, was a major tourist attraction in the past. Today, the West Canada faces challenges as public utilities utilize the waterway for power generation - and it's believed by many the often unpredictable, pulsing of the river not only poses a danger at times due to fast rising waters, but also may prevent the river's trophy trout from reproducing here based on DEC reports. Presently there are nearly 70 tributaries where reproduction could be occurring. It's believed there's a way in which to balance the use of the river for everyone - by governmental, private business, fisherman, tubers, and tourists alike. creates This water has the potential to provide incredible economic impact, in a positive way, to the towns and people lining its riverbanks. For fishing and fly fishing advocates, West Canada Creek provides some of the finest blue ribbon fishing waters in the NE. Trophy section exists from Trenton Falls to the Oneida County/Herkimer County borders also known as Comstock Bridge. www.TroutPower.com to learn more about the West Canada Creek and the people and movement working to reinvigorate this river as the true resource that it is.


Alternative text
Ft. Noble Mountain. Photograph taken at Nobleborough. You can see the remains of the old dam.

On October 30, 1781 became the West Canada's big moment in history when Walter Butler was killed along West Canada Creek near Black Creek.[3] He was attempting to delay American forces and allow his Loyalist forces to escape after leading them in the Cherry Valley massacre. According to legend his body was stripped naked and left to the wolves propped up in an old tree stump.[3]

The West Canada Creek got its name from being the western boundary of Sir William Johnson's Royal Land Grant, and because the Iriquois word for village is "Kanata" or Canada. Following the Revolutionary war, Arthur Noble II purchased some 80,000 acres (320 km2) in the present town of Ohio, and called it "Nobleboro", a vast wilderness empire for that time in history. He also founded Nobleboro, Maine on land he inherited from his father. The timber, fish, and game of the area have been exploited for centuries. All of the West Canada Creek is classified and protected under the NYS Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System Act.

In 1863, William H. Seward, then Secretary of State to Abraham Lincoln, met with representatives of foreign nations at Trenton Falls to persuade them not to recognize the Confederacy.

From the bridge at Trenton falls to Cincinnati creek, the West Canada is open year round for fly fishing.

The West Canada Lakes[edit]

The West Canada Lakes: West Lake, Mud Lake, and South Lake are the source of the West Canada Creek. Nearby Brook Trout Lake and Northrup Lake are the source of the Indian River which empties into the Moose River country. In the late 19th Century and first decade of the 20th century, the area was inhabited by several woodsmen who were lumberjacks, trappers, fishermen, hunters and guides. Most notable was a character named Louis Seymore, commonly known as French Louie.[4] In 1922 the Adirondack Mountain Club was founded with the purpose of doing conservation work and maintaining trails. They laid out and maintained the Northville-Placid Trail which runs through the West Canada Lakes area and is now maintained by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. By the 1930s float planes were bringing increasing numbers of anglers and the trout population was decreasing rapidly. Around that time the state began an aggressive stocking program which continued into the 1960s, but the fishery was still declining. By the mid 1970s water acidity had depleted trout populations in many of the lakes and in the river itself.[5] In 1972 West Canada Lake Wilderness Area was designated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as "Wilderness", and as such nothing motorized is allowed into the area.[5] You can go in under your own power, or on horseback, but no pontoon aircraft, ATV's, motorcycles, etc. are allowed. It was determined that during summer and fall acidity was fine, but during the spring snow melt a large quantity of acidic water was entering the lakes and streams, just at the time that young trout were hatching.[6] In the late 1980s increasing catches of brook trout and lake trout, renewed interest. Subsequent studies have shown reduced acidity and increased trout populations.[7]

South Branch of the West Canada Creek[edit]

The south branch gets its start at T-lake, northwest of Piseco Lake. It travels southwest, through the town of Morehouse, and joins the main branch of the West Canada at Nobleboro. North of Rt 8 on Mountain Home Road is a man made lake called The Floe on the maps, but to the locals it is called Mountain Home Pond.


Nobleboro is located at the intersection of the north and south branches of the West Canada Creek. Arthur Noble built a saw mill there to export lumber to Ireland. In 1790 Noble got a road built to Nobleboro so that he could ride to his saw mill in a coach-and-four.[8] Some logging occurred at Nobleboro before the Civil War, but by the late 1800s a new call for lumber and paper caused new activity in the woods of the region. Pulp and paper mills were built at Hinkley, with saw mills and a debarking mill at Nobleboro. The vast forests to the north were still in private ownership and they supplied these industries for decades. Each spring logs and pulpwood were flushed downstream on the wave of snowmelt and Nobleboro was an important staging area for these log drives. If you walk down to the river's edge you can still see the foundation logs of the river drive dam that controlled water flow during these times. Log drives continued on the West Canada Creek until 1949. Since then the land here has healed nearly hiding the once thriving industrial complex once known as "Nobleboro, the gateway to the great north woods". The watershead at Nobleboro covers some 240 square miles (620 km2) of the southwestern Adirondack Park, and is rich in natural resources. The West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area has been expanded to include Fort Noble Mountain. Fort Noble Mountain was the site of a fire tower that was erected in 1916 until it was deactivated and removed in 1985.[9] A kiosk next to the stream at Nobleboro, spells it "Nobleborough", however virtually every map and book refer to it as "Nobleboro."

Wilmurt Falls and the Ohio Gorge[edit]

Wilmurt falls, which is downstream from Nobleboro in the town of Ohio, has the distinction of being the dividing line between brook trout in the waters upstream from the falls, and brown and rainbow trout downstream. The browns and rainbows for the most part don't get above the falls. The falls is also the top end of the Ohio gorge.

Hinckley Reservoir[edit]

Hinckley Reservoir is a man-made lake on the West Canada Creek just upstream from the Prospect Gorge.[2] The dam depends on 117,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 600,000 yards of dirt fill to hold back the water. In 1928 the name was changed to Kuyahoora Lake after campers got the State committee on Geographic Names to okay the change.[2] The water from Hinckley Reservoir is used as drinking water for Utica, NY, and also to regulate the water level in the Barge Canal.

Prospect Gorge[edit]

Alternative text
Taken next to the bridge in Prospect, NY. just prior to the photographer being ejected from the property.

The entire Prospect Gorge is inaccessible now. It is privately owned by Brookfield Asset Management, who administer power generation, and they are concerned because they let out water from the dams at odd intervals. Swiftly rising water with no escape is extremely dangerous. At least until the late 1970s restrictions were not as strictly enforced as they are today. Also the water releases in the past were more predictable. The property was previously owned by the Niagara Mohawk Power Co.

The West Canada Valley[edit]

Poland and Cold Brook[edit]




By the time the West Canada reaches the Mohawk River it has drained 569 square miles (1,470 km2) of watershed, and a flow as high as 1337 cubic feet per second.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed October 3, 2011
  2. ^ a b c Beetle, David (1946). The West Canada Creek. Utica New York: North Country Books Inc. p. 46. ISBN 0-932052-14-2. 
  3. ^ a b Beetle, David (1946). The West Canada Creek. Utica New York: North Country Books Inc. p. 7. ISBN 0-932052-14-2. 
  4. ^ Beetle, David (1953). French Louie - Early Life in the North Woods. Utica New York: North Country Books Inc. p. 1. 
  5. ^ a b Keesler, Paul (1997). Guide to Fishing West Canada Creek. Utica New York: North Country Books Inc. p. 51. ISBN 0-9645372-2-2. 
  6. ^ The Mohawk River Basin Waterbody Inventory and Priority Waterbodies List. Albany New York: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. 2010. p. 298. ISBN 0-9645372-2-2. 
  7. ^ Keesler, Paul (1997). Guide to Fishing West Canada Creek. Utica New York: North Country Books Inc. p. 52. ISBN 0-9645372-2-2. 
  8. ^ Beetle, David (1946). The West Canada Creek. Utica New York: North Country Books Inc. p. 9. ISBN 0-932052-14-2. 
  9. ^ Kapelewski, Thomas et al. (2010). Fire Tower Study for the Adirondack Park. Albany New York: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Lands and Forests. p. 75. 
  10. ^ Keesler, Paul (1997). Guide to Fishing West Canada Creek. Utica New York: North Country Books Inc. p. 9. ISBN 0-9645372-2-2. 

External links[edit]