July 21, 2011

Water’s Dangers Should Be Heeded



Water’s dangers all-too evident…

     How ironic that the June 2, 2011 newspaper headline states information that I might include in a chapter in my historic romance novel. The warning is made about waterways and water bodies in what was once known as the Ohio country—western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, which includes the Monongahela and Ohio rivers. I had just typed into my third chapter the following:

Monongahela River at the Redstone Creek confluence in Brownsville, PA.

       Floating on a poleboat, even against hundreds of miles of river current, was usually safer, easier and far faster than overland travel. However, it was not necessarily safe. There were dead-heads: fallen trees, tops gone, hung up in the river totally underwater. The end pointing upstream would sometimes be raised by the current, till it would breach the surface and punch a hole in the coming flatboat. In low water there were rocks and even rapids in the river which had to be navigated correctly. And always there were the Indians. The Indian was watching the passing flatboat, they could attack it where it stopped. A captive might be used to lure the boat close for attack and capture.

     I’ll concede that we don’t worry about the dangers of Native American and water travelers in today’s world, but the concerns about water safety, especially on Pennsylvania’s magnificent waterways, remain the same. The newspaper article warned that You hit something in your boat because you can’t see it, and it puts a hole in your boat. You’re going to sink pretty fast—heavy rains cause debris that can be hidden by water currents to be pushed into rivers from small creeks and streams.

     The newspaper article mentions other real dangers not mentioned in the 1790 discussion, but which were still present problems.

  • You can be pulled under the water in the rapids…just wading can result in you’re being swept away by the currents or sucked down a creek.
  • Sudden downpours causing flash flooding

     Not mentioned in either piece are these dangers”

  • streams and rivers have sudden deep spots that can take a person by surprise
  • the presence of  hidden rocks and debris
  • fast rapids.

     One of my readers, June, added the following precaution:

  • the water’s edge areas may not be a strong as you think

     It would behoove persons who participate in water recreation and travel to err on the side of safety, to heed the warnings published in the newspaper:

  • Be cognizant of the fact that, whether wading or in a kayak, the water you think you know just isn’t the same body of water (when it is) at these (high) water levels.
  • Don’t know how to swim? Wear a flotation device (I would suggest the flotation device be used even for persons who do know how to swim).
  • Let friends and family know where you are going to be.
  • Do not assume the water is not moving.
  • Be aware of the weather forecasts.
  • Know where the closest source of emergency help is…have a working cell phone, but be aware that many places will be dead zones, and the phone will not work.

     June added the following precautionary note:

  • Taking a buddy to go with to enjoy all the fun is a must.

     The article states With the way times are today, you have people attracted to the water with all the heat. Certainly this was also true in the past—people back in the 1790s were also attracted to the water in the heat of the summer. Thus, both the 1790 and the 2011 warnings have major importance for persons experiencing water situations in what was once the Ohio Country.

Youghiogheny River flows under bridge in Connellsville, PA.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Water

RIVER (Specifically, the Youghiogheny River)


Youghiogheny River AKAs

Hottis Complainus Constantitis

A Stained Glass Window in Brownsville, Pennsylvania

Staycation Day Trip: Somerset County, PA



  1. That is very good advice. Letting people know where you are and a buddy to go with to enjoy all the fun is a must. Another problem around water is that the water edge areas may not be a strong as you think. Sadly two children found out the hard way when the ground gave out below them.

    Comment by June — July 21, 2011 @ 6:28 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your very cogent points, June. I’ve added them to the post. I hope you enjoy reading the posts included in Carolyn’s Compositions.

      Carolyn Cornell Holland

      Comment by carolyncholland — July 23, 2011 @ 6:30 pm | Reply

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