Ohiopyle Falls along the Youghiogheny
Map of the Monongahela River basin, with the Youghiogheny River highlighted.
|State||Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia|
|Counties||Allegheny, PA, Westmoreland, PA, Fayette, PA, Somerset, PA, Garrett, MD, Preston, WV|
|Cities||McKeesport, PA, Connellsville, PA|
|- location||Backbone Mountain, Preston County, West Virginia|
|- elevation||2,688 ft (819 m)|
|McKeesport, Allegheny County, PA|
|724 ft (221 m)|
|Length||132 mi (212 km)|
|Basin size||1,715 sq mi (4,440 km2)|
|- location||Sutersville, PA|
|- average||3,477 cu ft/s (98.5 m3/s)|
|- minimum||717 cu ft/s (20.3 m3/s)|
|- maximum||35,500 cu ft/s (1,010 m3/s)|
|- location||Oakland, MD|
|- average||329 cu ft/s (9.3 m3/s)|
|- right||Casselman River|
The Youghiogheny River , or the Yough for short, is a 134-mile-long (216 km)tributary of the Monongahela River in the U.S. states of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It drains an area on the west side of the Allegheny Mountains northward into Pennsylvania, providing a small watershed in extreme western Maryland into the tributaries of the Mississippi River. Youghiogheny is a Lenape word meaning "a stream flowing in a contrary direction".
The Youghiogheny rises in northern West Virginia, in Preston County southeast of the town of Aurora and near Backbone Mountain. The headwaters are approximately 10 miles (16 km) north of the headwaters of the North Branch of the Potomac River and pass through Silver Lake before flowing north-northeast into Garrett County, Maryland, then flowing north past Oakland and roughly parallel to the West Virginia border, separated by approximately 3 miles (5 km). The river enters southwestern Pennsylvania on the border between Fayette and Somerset counties. It flows northwest through a gap in Chestnut Ridge and then past Connellsville. It joins the Monongahela River from the southeast at McKeesport, southeast of Pittsburgh.
Upstream from Confluence, Pennsylvania, approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Pennsylvania border, the river is impounded by the 184-foot-high (56 m) Youghiogheny Dam to form the Youghiogheny River Lake, a reservoir that stretches upstream into northern Maryland. The dam was completed in 1944 primarily for flood control.
In the colonial era and in the early United States, the valley of the river provided an important route of access through the mountains for settlers and military forces from Virginia to western Pennsylvania and the Ohio Country. In 1754, as a militia officer of the British Colony of Virginia, George Washington followed the river in an attempt to find a water route to Fort Duquesne, then held by the French.
During the uncommonly severe winter of 1787-88, American pioneers to the Northwest Territory departed New England and cut trails westward through the mountains. At Sumrill's Ferry, present-day West Newton, Pennsylvania, on the Youghiogheny River, the men built flatboats which carried them down the Youghiogheny River to the Monongahela River, and then to the Ohio River, and onward to the Northwest Territory.
The pioneer town of Somerfield, Pennsylvania, was inundated by the building of the Youghiogheny Dam. Perryopolis in northern Fayette County, Pennsylvania, is the site of the George Washington Grist Mill. The Youghiogheny River Trail follows the river in southwestern Pennsylvania southeast of Connellsville.
Coal mining became an important industry along the lower Youghiogheny River during the 19th century. At the time the name was often spelled Yohoghany (or variants thereof), and during the 1860s and 1870s that spelling was used as the name of a post office near what is now Shaner in Westmoreland County.
Although the Youghiogheny is generally considered to be safe for whitewater recreation, there have been 19 deaths on the Lower Yough. At least five, and possibly as many as 14, of the fatalities have occurred at a rapid within the Lower Yough known as Dimple Rock. Dimple refers to both the Class III rapid by that name, as well as an undercut rock in the middle of the rapid by that name. Some of the deaths were attributed to preexisting health conditions, with 9 of the 14 being caused by the rock itself.
The Youghiogheny River was likely the inspiration for the fictional Yuggogheny River, whose valley was used by Michael Chabon for the setting of his short story "In the Black Mill" from the 2000 collection Werewolves in their Youth. His 2001 story "The God Of Dark Laughter" is also set in Yuggogheny County. In Chabon's 2000 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, an expert or experts on Yuggogheny cannibal cults are present at the party where Joe Kavalier saves Salvador Dalí from drowning.
The Youghiogheny River is mentioned (malapropped as "Young-iogheny") in an episode of the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show. The river is also referred to (as Yochio Geni) in Thomas Pynchon's novel Mason & Dixon.