Tonawanda Creek

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Tonawanda Creek
Tonawanda mill dam 8928.jpg
Old mill dam at the Big Bend of Tonawanda Creek, downtown Batavia, New York
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Location of the mouth of the Tonawanda Creek in New York State
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Tonawanda Creek (the United States)
Country United States
State New York
Counties Wyoming, Genesee, Erie, Niagara
Physical characteristics
  location Town of Java, Wyoming County
  coordinates 42°39′29″N78°19′09″W / 42.65806°N 78.31917°W / 42.65806; -78.31917 [1]
Mouth Niagara River
City of Tonawanda
43°01′25″N78°52′54″W / 43.02361°N 78.88167°W / 43.02361; -78.88167 Coordinates: 43°01′25″N78°52′54″W / 43.02361°N 78.88167°W / 43.02361; -78.88167 [1]
Length90 mi (140 km)
Basin size650 sq mi (1,700 km2)
Basin features
Progression Niagara RiverLake OntarioSaint Lawrence RiverGulf of Saint Lawrence

Tonawanda Creek is a small tributary of the Niagara River in Western New York, United States. [1] After rising in Wyoming County, the stream flows through Genesee County before forming part of the boundary between Erie County and Niagara County.



The length of Tonawanda Creek is 90 miles (140 km). Its drainage basin is nearly 650 square miles (1,700 km2) in area. [2] It flows on a meandering course for most of its length, first northerly until reaching the City of Batavia where a sweeping bend takes it westerly.

Tonawanda Creek rises in Wyoming County and enters the Niagara River between Niagara County and Erie County, forming a boundary between them. Tonawanda Creek passes through the Village of Attica, the City of Batavia, flows between the City of North Tonawanda to its north and the Town of Amherst to its south, the Town of Clarence, the Town of Tonawanda, and the City of Tonawanda. Just after being joined by Ellicott Creek, it enters the Niagara River.

The creek has a small 30-foot-high (9.1 m) waterfall at Indian Falls [3] where the stream descends from the Onondaga Escarpment.

During the spring of each year, some sections of Tonawanda Creek flood to varying degrees. These floods are more of an inconvenience than a danger, but can be more serious, especially when ice jams dam up the water. The larger flooding can cause property damage.

Tonawanda Creek is also part of the Erie Canal, which joins the creek southwest of Lockport and allows canal traffic to proceed into the Niagara River. In its upper reaches, Tonawanda Creek and the Little Tonawanda, which is a tributary, are trout streams.


The name Tonawanda (Te-ni-wun-da) [4] or (Ta-na-wan-deh') [5] derives from the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) language meaning swift water. [4]

Tonawanda Creek flows through the ancient lake bed of Glacial Lake Tonawanda, a prehistoric lake that existed approximately 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age; many of the swamp lands surrounding Tonawanda Creek also date back to this lake.

Downstream of Indian Falls, Tonawanda Creek flows through the Tonawanda Indian Reservation, and there is a NYS historical marker where George Washington made a troop fording across the stream. [5]

When the Erie Canal was first built, the Tonawanda Creek was the source of water for the western section of the Canal.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Tonawanda (town), New York Town in New York, United States

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Mohawk River

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Genesee River

The Genesee River is a tributary of Lake Ontario flowing northward through the Twin Tiers of Pennsylvania and New York in the United States.

Tonawanda may refer to:

Western New York Region in New York, United States

Western New York is the westernmost region of the state of New York. It includes the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Niagara Falls, Jamestown and the surrounding suburbs, as well as the outlying rural areas of the Great Lakes lowlands, the Genesee Valley, and the Southern Tier. The historic beginnings of the region can be defined by its original eastern boundary of Preemption Line, created by the December 16, 1786 political settlement between the states of New York and Massachusetts, both of which claimed political dominion over the land. This eastern boundary shifted because of changing county borders in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Buffalo River (New York)

The Buffalo River drains a 447-square-mile (1,160 km2) watershed in Western New York state, emptying into the eastern end of Lake Erie at the City of Buffalo. The river has three tributaries: Cayuga Creek, Buffalo Creek, and Cazenovia Creek.

Schoharie Creek

Schoharie Creek in New York, flows north 93 miles (150 km) from the foot of Indian Head Mountain in the Catskills through the Schoharie Valley to the Mohawk River. It is twice impounded north of Prattsville to create New York City's Schoharie Reservoir and the Blenheim-Gilboa Power Project.

Ellicott Creek

Ellicott Creek is a stream in Western New York, United States. It is a tributary of Tonawanda Creek, which in turn flows into the Niagara River.

Cayuga Creek

Cayuga Creek is a small stream in western New York, United States, with stretches in both Erie County and Wyoming County. The creek enters Buffalo Creek in the northwest corner of the Town of West Seneca in Erie County, just upstream from the New York State Thruway crossing. At that point, Buffalo Creek becomes the Buffalo River and flows into Lake Erie near Buffalo, New York.

Grand River (Ohio)

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History of Buffalo, New York

Buffalo is the county seat of Erie County, and the second most populous city in the U.S. state of New York, after New York City. Originating around 1789 as a small trading community inhabited by the Neutral Nation near the mouth of Buffalo Creek, the city, then a town, grew quickly after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, with the city at its western terminus. Its position at the eastern end of Lake Erie strengthened the economy, based on grain milling and steel production along the southern shores and in nearby Lackawanna.

Geography of New York (state)

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Twelve Mile Creek (Ontario)

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  1. 1 2 3 "Tonawanda Creek". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey . Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  2. "Tonawanda Creek". Friends of the Buffalo Niagara Rivers. Archived from the original on December 21, 2005. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  3. "Interesting Facts" (PDF). Town of Pembroke. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  4. 1 2 Morgan, Lewis Henry; Lloyd, Herbert Marshall (1922). "Book III, Appendix A". League of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee or Iroquois. Dodd, Mead. p. 129. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  5. 1 2 "Letters on the Iroquois: Letter XIII". The American Whig Review, Volume 6. Wiley and Putnam. November 1847. p. 488. Retrieved July 17, 2016.