The Kinzua Dam: A Fall Destination

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Fall will be upon us. Sunny cool days and the leaves will be turning so many beautiful colors. We live in Western New York not far from the Kinzua Dam.



Every year when the leaves are at their peak we take the drive down I86 East, from there we take some back roads into Pennsylvania, through the Allegheny National Forest to the Kinzua Area, the ride is breathtakingly scenic.

If you are in the process of planning a fall vacation, consider the Kinzua Dam. The dam is located about 6 miles east of Warren Pennsylvania, along route 59 nestled in the 500,000 acres of the Allegheny National Forest. I’m going to include a little history and all of the fun activities in the Kinzua area.

So if you like camping, hiking, fishing, cannoning, boating or just relaxing and taking in the views it’s all here at Kinzua. If you’re the outdoors type pack you bags, and get ready for some breathtaking views and fun. First here is some history of the area.

Construction and Why



Construction began in 1960 by the US Army Corps of Engineers and was completed in 1965. The main purpose of the dam was for flood control on the Allegheny River. Kinzua controls drainage on a watershed of 2.180 square miles.

Several side benefits from the construction of the dam include drought control, hydroelectric power production, and recreation. The dam created Pennsylvania’s deepest lake, the Allegheny Reservoir, also known as Kinzua Lake.

The cost was approximately $108 million. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers the dam paid for itself in 1972, when tropical storm Agnes’s heavy rains on the watershed brought the reservoir to within three feet of its maximum capacity.

Downstream flood damage would have been devastating at an estimated $247 million. The Kinzua Dam has saved an estimated $1 billion in flood damages since it became operational.

Recreation at Kinzua Dam

There are many recreational activities at the Allegheny Reservoir and the surrounding area. If you’re the outdoors type then there is something here for you. Along the reservoir there is camping, boating, fishing, and hiking. If you’re the winter type there is snowmobiling.

The US Forest Service has four reservoir campgrounds and five primitive (boat to or hike only) camping areas. Most of the recreation areas surround Allegheny Lake.

We just love to go there any time of the year and soak in the beautiful scenery and walk the trails. Since we live in Western New York, which is not so far from Kinzua, it’s a nice drive especially in the fall.

Hiking Trails and Beautiful Scenic Views


There are many hiking trails and scenic overlooks at Kinzua. There are two areas that we never miss and never tire of visiting at Kinzua; they are Jake’s Rock and Rim Rock.

The views from these overlooks are beautiful any time of the year, but we prefer to go in the fall when the views are breathtaking. We have been there many times and it’s always the same, “Beautiful”

Did You Know That Johnny Cash Wrote A Song About The Kinzua Dam?

As a tribute to the Seneca Nation of Indians, Johnny Cash wrote, As Long as the Grass Will Grow. The construction of the Dam forced 600 Seneca Indians to relocate, because 10,000 acres of their land had to be flooded.

This land had been occupied by the Seneca Nation since the treaty of 1794. President Kennedy had been asked to halt the project but declined because of the need for flood control.

President Kennedy ordered government agencies to assist in finding land for the placement of the Seneca Nation of Indians.

If you are a fan on Johnny Cash here is the song:


I like to write about things that I know about. My passion for a good cigar, our family recipes, television, movie reviews, travel, and product reviews. The products I review are goods that I own and have used. I’m a Industrial Engineer working in the automotive business. When I’m not working or writing I spend as much time with my beautiful grandchildren as I can, Bobby, Tyler, and Giada. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy 🙂

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Author: Jackie Jackson

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  1. Hi Sam, I have to say I wish I’d read some of your posts here sooner. What a wonderful, read. I’d love to visit this place and may consider doing so soon. I love learning about the history of a place. Thank you for sharing. <3 <3

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  2. It looks like a great recreational area. Thanks for all of the information about it.

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  3. As soon as I saw the title Kinzua Dam, my mind went immediately to Johnny Cash’s recording (which I own, both on the original disc and in CD.) I wrote an article about “Bitter Tears,” the album. Can’t think where it is at the moment since moving so many things. It’s good to see the Dam has helped keep flooding away from everyone, but such a shame that so many people had to move.

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