On a large mountain plateau now called Headwaters Mountain, there is the tiniest knoll that has a modest copse of trees growing out of it. At this knoll, at an elevation of 2515’ above sea level, a miracle occurs.
Raindrops falling within mere inches of one another are absorbed into the ground and reemerge at the headwater’s springs of three major rivers.
One drop falls and becomes a brook, which becomes a river. It travels north through the lush rolling farms and timberland of upstate New York before it descends through a series of breathtaking falls in Letchworth State Park on its way to Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the north Atlantic. This one drop is the beginning of the Genesee River.
Another drop falls. This drop reemerges from the earth at beautiful spring watched over by ancient hemlock trees and is born anew as the Allegany River. Like its cousin raindrop, it also races north into New York State before the Allegheny mountains redirect it southwesterly toward Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania along those same mountains’ western slopes.
This drop of water now empties into the Ohio river where it continues its southwesterly path to Cairo, Illinois. Our little drop is in good company, too, because the Ohio River is the second largest river by discharge volume in the United States and the largest tributary of the Mississippi River. From Cairo, the drop becomes part of the storied Mississippi River and flows south until it is finally in the open ocean again in the Gulf of Mexico.
Our third drop, like the second drop, reemerges from a spring under the boughs of fragrant apple trees and is gently protected by a thick wall of blackberry brambles. Such protection! This drop must be special indeed. Falling in elevation more swiftly than the previous two drops to the valley below through the Allegany Mountains, our little drop joins the Pine Creek. It travels through the Pennsylvania Wilds, the Pine Creek Gorge (Pennsylvania Grand Canyon) and on to Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. Here our raindrop joins the better-known West Branch Susquehanna River until it meets its sister river, The North Branch Susquehanna in Northumberland Pennsylvania. This drop is party to a very peculiar geographic anomaly. Due to the rugged terrain our drop must navigate through and its sprawling, rocky and shallow draft, the Susquehanna is the United States’ largest unnavigable river for commercial traffic. In fact, this special little drop, until it reaches the Chesapeake Bay in Havre de Grace, Maryland, probably had the quietest and, arguably, the most scenic journey of all three raindrops.
It is impossible—and unfair—to give a farm or family history without first telling the history of these three small lifegiving drops of water.