APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2007-02 > 1171750367
From: bob gillis <>
Subject: [APG] River Ports
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 17:12:47 -0500
David Green posted to the Erie-Lackawanna (Railroad) list this
interesting explanation for some "port" towns names:
Many port towns were on Canals: Port Washington OH, Port Murray, NJ but
tohers were no as explaine below.
PA has ten Port xxxx, NJ12 , NY 18,.
Many streams that do not look navigable today were very navigable up through the 1800s before much of the virgin forests were clear-cut for lumber and farmland. The virgin forest floor consisted of a very deep loam that accumulated from generations of decaying plant matter. This deep loam acted as a sponge and retained enormous amounts of water, and served to keep the water table at a significantly higher level than it is today. This is why many towns were named "ports". They actually were on a section of river that was navigable in their early days. Take Arkport, NY, for example. Arkport was (is) a stop on the Erie Buffalo Division north of Hornell (required EL content). Arkport is also on the Canisteo River. The Canisteo River of today is but a tiny stream through the village. However, Arkport got its name because the settlers who logged and farmed the area built flat-bottomed boats known as "arks". They loaded up these "arks" with grain, livestock a
nd other good!
s and floated them down the Canisteo River...to the Tioga River...to the Chemung River...to the Susquehanna River...and finally to Chesapeake Bay - final destination Baltimore. There the lumber and goods were sold and the settlers returned to New York with their money to repeat the process next year. You could never do that from Arkport today. In fact, except for the spring runoff, the Canisteo River of today is too shallow to navigate in many places for much of its length, unless you are in a kayak or a canoe.
In the same way the towns of Port Allegany and Coudersport engaged in commerce as far as New Orleans via the Alleghany, Ohio and Mississippi River systems.
The increased acreage of cleared land underwent years and years of erosion, eventually wearing away the water retaining loam and lowering the water table to the point where many rivers and streams that were once navigable are no longer so.
Thus endeth the historo-geological lesson for the day.
|[APG] River Ports by bob gillis <>|