Kinzua Dam
Day Six
Location Three

Picture Courtesy of:

Introduction:  The Kinzua Dam is located east of Warren on US Route 59.  The interest at this location is the environmental effects of the Kinzua Dam.  We will also tour the visitor center to view slides and exhibits.

The building of the dam was completed in 1965 by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  The man-made impoundment encompasses 12,080 acres, that lie in Pennsylvania and New York State.  The construction of the dam and reservoir is built upon land belonging to the Seneca Indians of the Iroquois Nation.  In 1794 a treaty was signed by George Washington and Chief Cornplanter that that gave the Indians the land.  The treaty was broken by constructing the dam.  The once forested land was flooded,  which destroyed their hunting and fishing grounds, spiritual center and graveyards, homes and schools.  In all 130 families  were relocated and the courts compensated the Seneca Nation monetarily.  The Indians prefer to call the reservoir Lake Perfidy, which means betrayal.  Johnny Cash wrote a song about the Kinzua Dam and the resulting loss of Indian land.   View the song lyrics to song.

"Chief Cornplanter of the Seneca Nation"
Picture Courtesy of: Warrennet

The purpose for construction of Kinzua Dam was to control flooding of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers.  Hydroelectric power is generated by the dam.  The dam has also been used to fluctuate water levels in order to dilute oil field and acid mine drainage pollution that enter the Allegheny via tributary streams.  The reservoir also provides a recreational area for many visitors.  Many adverse effects result from dam construction, they include habitat destruction, both aquatic and the forested lands that were flooded by the reservoir.  Steep slopes and fluctuating water levels in the lake have adversely affected wetlands and fish spawning habitats.  During periods of low water levels, especially in winter, fish are entrained in the outlet works and discharged which results in a high death rate among fish populations.  The reservoir has experienced blue green algae blooms which cause eutrophication.  The dam also cuts down on the amount of sediment load that is carried by the stream.  The reduction in sediment can cause many negative effects such as a reduction in flood nutrients and nutrients for fish downstream.  Less sediment reaches shores and beaches are more susceptible to erosion.  Also, accelerated riverbed erosion or clear water erosion can occur.

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