Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Chemung River

Location:  West-central New York State
Year:    1615

The Chemung River, which rises near Painted Post, New York, is a tributary of the Susquehanna River. Its name means "Tusk-in-the-Water" in Iroquois, and it was named for the mammoth tusks that the Hudenosaunee found along its course. 

The Chemung River was "discovered" by a French trapper, Stephen Brule, in 1615.  By the time of the Revolutionary War, the Chemung River was a major trade route in this frontier area, and many towns grew up along its banks  and in the area, including Elmira, Corning (home of Corning Glass), and Waverly. In 1833, the Chemung Canal linked the river to the Erie Canal, and the river became a major transshipment point for Pennsylvania coal to reach the Great Lakes, and hence the Atlantic Ocean, for easy shipping overseas. This trade continued even after the canals were supplanted by the railroads. The region grew rich, and remained rich, for most of the 19th and 20th Centuries as part of the Rust Belt. Unfortunately, the outsourcing of American manufacturing put the Chemung River watershed into an economic decline beginning in the 1970s; it remains an economically-depressed area.

The Corning Museum of Glass


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