The Genesee River Watershed

I grew up a stone’s throw from the Genesee River, in Rochester, New York, but never knew that the river began in far-off Pennsylvania. Exploring watersheds can change the way you view the world.

According to family lore, my ancestors (around the 1820s or 30s?) were headed to the western frontier, but when they got as far as Rochester, the women declared they were hot, dusty, and tired, and this little town with its flour mills and waterfalls suited them just fine.

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As the Genesee flows north through central New York State, it carves out the magnificent Grand Canyon of the East, which you can visit at Letchworth State Park. This was a popular day trip for my family when I was young, and must have influenced my lifelong love of rivers!

The Genesee River gorge in Letchworth State Park, with the historic 1875 Erie Railroad bridge crossing upstream of Upper Falls. Photo by James St. John.