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From the October 2009 Conservationist

A creek surrounded by flat rocks and trees with fall color

Whither it May Flow

Canadaway Creek photo essay by James Hoggard

By Jenna DuChene

"So-this-is-a-River," said the Mole.
"THE River," corrected the Rat.
"And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!"
"By it and with it and on it and in it," said the Rat.
"It's brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It's my world, and I don't want any other. What it hasn't got is not worth having, and what it doesn't know is not worth knowing.
Lord! the times we've had together..."

-Kenneth Grahame, from The Wind in the Willows

A swiftly flowing creek surrounded by flat rocks and fall foliage

Nestled in north-central Chautauqua County are 3,000 acres of predominantly forested land. The terrain in the uplands is very hilly, dissected by numerous deep ravines and covered mostly in maple, beech and hemlock forest. Through this sylvan glade flows a tiny stream, gradually increasing in width, depth and importance.

Rocks and pebbles in a stream with ice forming
Erie tribes, and later the Iroquois, originally settled the stream and called it "Ga-na-da-wa-o," meaning "running through hemlocks." The name probably referred to the dense canopy covering the deep gorge at its headwaters. The early European settlers from eastern and central Pennsylvania pronounced the name as "Canadaway" and because the stream flows north, the name came into common use.

Canadaway Creek was a blessing to the surrounding towns' settlers due to its importance for transportation and the economy. It looked different many years ago, with a different flow and even small waterfalls. Various saw and grist mills could be found on its shores. However, over time, construction projects and erosion have changed the flow of the creek.

A creek entering a larger waterbody with a piece of driftwood in the foreground

Canadaway is one of the county's major feeder streams to Lake Erie. The creek winds down from the hills to the site of the first naval skirmishes of the War of 1812. It was here that American soldiers fought off a British gunboat as it tried to seize a salt boat from Buffalo seeking sanctuary in the creek.

The shoreline of a lake at sunrise

The creek's headwaters are nestled within Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area, a 2,195-acre lush, forested sanctuary that encompasses several stunningly picturesque ravines. Arkwright Falls, the highest waterfall in Chautauqua County, is a locally popular destination for hikers. The wildlife management area's large size and flora allow it to support a rich diversity of wildlife, including several species of raptors. Broad-winged and red-shouldered hawks nest here, and the adjacent area supports a colony of great blue herons. In addition, there are also common game species like American woodcock, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and ruffed grouse.


Canadaway is truly an ecological jewel hidden in southwestern New York.

About the Photographer:

James Hoggard has been photographing natural scenes for more than two decades. Originally from Salt Lake City, he currently resides in New York and enjoys exploring, photographing, hiking, and skiing in "wild places." His work can be viewed at http://jameshoggardphotography.com.

Jenna DuChene is the staff writer for Conservationist.

(Author's note: some text adapted from Alberto Rey (www.albertorey.com), and Images of America: Pomfret by Todd Landworthy.)

Photo: James Hoggard