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Kinzua Dam

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Flood Protection and Power

Measuring 1,897 feet long, the Kinzua Dam provides flood protection from the Allegheny River, and also produces hydroelectric power. Read on for more information on the deep history of the Kinzua Dam development.

Things to do

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The Power of Water

Visitors may walk out partway on the Dam, and gaze out and below. From one side, feel and see the power of water gushing through the Dam, with energy producing hydroelectric power. On the other side, enjoy a scenic view of the Allegheny Reservoir. Look down below and you'll almost surely see large carp swimming near the surface! Below the dam is a visitor center, with information on the history of the site and its multipurpose functions.

About the Dam

Finished in 1965, the Kinzua Dam was developed for flood control of the Allegheny River, after a major flood struck Pittsburgh in 1936. Learn about the history of the Dam by visiting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Big Bend Visitor Center just downstream of the dam, open seasonally from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day and weekends in September and October. The center contains exhibits and brochures which explain and illustrate the purpose to the dam and power plant.

Reverence for the Past

The construction of the dam received national attention, as the reservoir’s floodplain forced the relocation of the Seneca Nation of Indians and required the condemnation of several towns and communities. In 1964, Johnny Cash recorded the song “As Long as the Grass Shall Grow,” written by Peter La Farge, about the loss of Seneca land due to the construction of the Kinzua Dam. Today, locals enjoy the beauty and use of the reservoir, but continue to carry a profound respect for the history of the land and its people.