February 10, 2013

32 Facts About the Monongahela River: (PA’s 2013 River of the Year)


Carolyn’s Online Magazine (COMe) in January 2015.

I invite you to visit the new site.


The Pennsylvania public voted.

The Monongahela River is the state’s 2013 river of the year.

To recognize this honor I’m posting thirty-two facts about the river.

  1. The Monongahela River formed some 20 million years ago.
  2. A series of nine Locks and Dams, a system established in the 1840s, make the Mon River deep enough for tow boats with barges to navigate.
  3. The Monongahela River’s natural state was shallow, a series of pools and rapids, which sometimes dried out in the summer. When the first pioneers arrived they could walk across it in many places.
  4. In 1897 the government condemned the Pennsylvania locks and dams systems.
  5. Native Americans occupied the Mon lands from about 8000 B. C. to 1700 A. D.
  6. The Native Americans named the Monongahela River—it is said to mean “river with crumbling or falling banks.”
  7. Indian traders and pioneers from colonial settlements came to the Upper Mon as early as 1694.
  8. Coal and coke from western Pennsylvania became a major part of local, regional, and national industry from the Monongahela River.
  9. River travel began with canoes and bateaux, then flatboats and, in the 1790s, keelboats.
  10. Post World War II barges increased from 26 feet wide to 35 feet wide.

IMG 9672 labeled

  1. A B-25 airplane crashed into the Monongahela River near Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1956.
  2. Old Monongahela Rye Whiskey was one of the area’s principal early agricultural products exported on the river.
  3. The steamboat, New Orleans, was launched on the Monongahela River at Pittsburgh, and made its first trip to New Orleans in 1811. Allegedly the first steamboat go to New Orleans and return on its own power was the Enterprise, in 1836.
  4. In the competition for being named Pennsylvania river of the year, the Mon River garnered 8,156 of the 25,540 votes from the public sector.
  5. The Monongahela River served as a gateway for early pioneers traveling west of the Appalachian Mountains.
  6. General Edward Braddock was defeated on the Monongahela River during the French and Indian War on July 9, 1755.
  7. The Monongahela River is 128 miles in length, starting near Fairmont, West Virginia and ending at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  8. In 1694 a small temporary settlement was made on the Monongahela River near present-day Rivesville.
  9. The Monongahela River flows north, not south.
  10. In 2010 the Monongahela River was ranked number nine on American’s Most Endangered Rivers list…it is surging back as a vital link to unlimited recreational potential and rich natural and historical resources.
View of the Mon River from Nemacolin Castle

View of the Mon River from Nemacolin Castle

  1. The Monongahela River carves out a 7,340 square-mile watershed containing woodlands, rolling farmland, active and reclaimed coal mines, and towns rich in the history of the Industrial Revolution.
  2. The Monongahela River merges with the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River.
  3. Col. James Burd constructed Redstone Old Fort in 1758 on the eastern bank of the Monongahela River at Brownsville.
  4. Thomas Brown brother of Basil Brown, purchased land in 1765, laid it out in lots, and then incorporated it into the town of Brownsville in 1814.
  5. Redstone (Brownsville) was the most important town in Western Pennsylvania in the 1790s. Pittsburgh was the second.
  6. Keelboats were narrow, wooden boats constructed with long strips of wood along the bottom and down the middle to prevent them from flipping over. Men rowed or used poles to guide the boats upriver. The wood was meant to be used in the travelers’ future homes.
  7. The Monongahela River beat out a larger river, the Schuylkill River, in the public voting that selected the Mon as the 2013 Pennsylvania river of the year. The Schuylkill River garnered 8,010 votes.
  8. The Brownsville Area Revitalization Corporation (BARC) will receive a $10,000 state grant in recognition of their being named the Pennsylvania river of the year in 2013.
  9. The Monongahela River became an early center for steamboat construction, producing more than 3,000 between 1811 and 1888.
  10. The Monongahela River flows through the following Pennsylvania counties: Fayette, Greene, Washington, Westmoreland and Allegheny.

IMG 9659 & 9661

  1. The Nemacolin Indian Trail crosses the Monongahela River at Brownsville.
  2. Six communities along the Monongahela River participate in the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s River Town Program: Brownsville, California, Greensboro, Rice’s Landing, Fredericktown and Point Marion.


Thanks to Norma Ryan, contact person for the Brownsville Area Revitalization Corporation, (724) 785-9331, P.O. Box 97, 69 Market StreetBrownsville, PA 15417, for clarifying some of the above information.



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1 Comment »

  1. good to know

    Comment by Jay aimsra — August 15, 2015 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

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