Islands in the Tionesta PA Area

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edfrank
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Islands in the Tionesta PA Area

Post by edfrank » Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:56 pm

I woke up this morning to a bright sunny day. Bob and Monica had bugged out back to Massachusetts. I could not get in touch with Carl. Dale was out studying 18th century french military tactics, apparently in case Cook Forest is attacked by 18th century British soldiers. What was I to do?

I decided to head up to Tionesta to scout some of the minor islands in this stretch of the Allegheny River yet to be investigated as part of our ongoing study. The first stop was at the Sarah Stewart Bovard Memorial Library in Tionesta. I was hoping to find some hard copies of material I was using for a more detailed report on our Allegheny River Project, in that regard I struck out. In 2008 Dale Luthringer had measured two large white oaks and one large sycamore present on the library and adjacent grounds. I took the opportunity to get photos of two of these trees.
Sycamore, 15.4 feet girth, 125 feet tall
Sycamore, 15.4 feet girth, 125 feet tall
White oak, 13.5 girth, 84.2 feet tall
White oak, 13.5 girth, 84.2 feet tall
The next stop was Tionesta Island located in the Allegheny River at the mouth of Tionesta Creek. At least it was the uppermost of the Tionesta Islands in an 1855 map of the region by Babbitt. Babbitt writes: “TIONESTA ISLANDS - Of these Islands there are thirteen in number and extend down about two miles. Some of them are under a high state of cultivation and are owned by various individuals."
tionesta.JPG
For many years the island was a gravel mine. Interestingly in 2006 a lighthouse was built on the island: "Tionesta, Pennsylvania recently dedicated the Sherman Memorial Lighthouse in honor of area resident Jack Sherman who designed and built the six-story lighthouse as a permanent tribute to his family’s legacy. The lighthouse sits on the northern end of a 22-acre island that will soon also house the Fishing Museum of Pennsylvania. The lighthouse will serve as a lighthouse museum with a collection of 180 lighthouse replicas on display." Since that time the island has been called Lighthouse Island.
Lighthouse
Lighthouse
The channel that flowed along the eastern side of the island has been bridged by a road, likely during the gravel mining phase. It appears, but can't tell for sure during the present high flow, but I believe that some large culverts allows the water to flow under the road. Most of the trees were cut in the recent past and none were of any great size. The most notable was a large black willow on the eastern channel side of the island near the lighthouse.
Lighthouse black willow
Lighthouse black willow
Presently the island is basically flat on top with only a few trees scattered around the banks on the edge of the island. During a quick recon I found black willow, American Sycamore, red maple, silver maple, black locust, white ash, and a hawthorn sp. I am sure on a return trip we could find enough species to quickly do a Rucker Height Index, but it would not be very high. It had been my intent to measure one today, but I discovered my laser rangefinder was not in my gadget bag. I had visions of it being whisked away to Massachusetts. After all how did Bob acquire so many instruments? (I later found it in my laptop bag when i returned home.) The uppermost edge of refugee Island #1 visited by Carl Harting and Dale Luthringer on October 8, 2008 lies immediately downstream of the Tionesta island.
No Name Islands area
No Name Islands area
The next stop was a few miles up the road and upstream to No Name Island. No Name Island is lowermost of the seven islands that make up the Allegheny River Islands Wilderness. It is about ten acres in size. We had passed it several times while canoeing, but had not landed because the trees growing on it were rather small. Still, it was part of the wilderness, and we need to visit the island and do some measurements. I could not actually get to the island today, but I wanted to take some panoramas from the shore. There is a commemorative wayside marker along Route 62 dedicated to Howard Zahniser (1906-1964) a wilderness advocate instrumental in getting the Wilderness Act passed in 1964. No Name island lies immediately opposite the wayside marker.
No Name Island (upper end  pan)
No Name Island (upper end pan)
No Name Island (lower end  pan)
No Name Island (lower end pan)
No Name Island Lower End
No Name Island Lower End
Central portion of No Name Island
Central portion of No Name Island
No Name Island 2 (Middleton island 2)
No Name Island 2 (Middleton island 2)
No Name Island 3 (towhead)
No Name Island 3 (towhead)
No Islands, Dale's Island, Dale's Island's (Baker Island), Middleton Islands (No Name Island)
No Islands, Dale's Island, Dale's Island's (Baker Island), Middleton Islands (No Name Island)
Interestingly the island actually had a name on the 1855 map by Babbitt. He listed three islands found here a the Middleton Islands and a "towhead" for the islands. The uppermost of the Middleton Islands is what is presently called No Name Island. Visible from shore are silver maple, sycamore, and black willow. None are very high.
Hunters and May's Islands
Hunters and May's Islands
Hunters and may's Islands to Tionesta from Babbitt 1855
Hunters and may's Islands to Tionesta from Babbitt 1855
hunters_island1855.jpg (30.2 KiB) Viewed 1413 times
Next I went back downstream a short way to find two islands marked on the 1855 map, that are now attached to the shoreline. Hunters Islands are shown on the Babbitt (1855) map as an island on the west side of the Allegheny River. The opposite Hunters Island on the map is May’s Island referred to in the text "then turn out to the left so as to be close to the tow-head while passing it at the foot of the Island, and when past it work over to the left, so as to pass about midway between Hunter's and May's Island." May's Island is presently completely occupied by the Eagle Rock Campground associated with the Eagle Rock Motel, canoe rental, and kayak rental. The present owner told me that the occasionally flowing very channel that separated the island from the shore proper was filled in when the campground was constructed in 1972. There are few trees left in the campground area. They are almost exclusively silver maple trees. One sycamore is also present. None are of any large size, but should be measured simply for the sake of thoroughness. It is relatively small in size and would not take long to complete. An eagles nest can be found on the far shore in a white pine downstream from the motel.
May's Island (Eagle Rock Campground)
May's Island (Eagle Rock Campground)
Hunter Island (downstream end)
Hunter Island (downstream end)
Hunter's Island could be seen across the river. This is also privately owned. The owner of the campground indicated this former island had also been connected artificially to the shore by its owners. This island is undeveloped. There is one large sycamore that stands much taller than the rest of the trees on the island. It would be worth measuring and likely can be reached during normal flow from the far shoreline without need for a canoe.

The final stop of the day was an island on the 1855 map marked as "Dale's Island." Actually it is the uppermost of three islands in the Dale's Island's group. The lower two of the islands have since that time merged to form Baker Island. Present day maps shows the island to now be a peninsula. During the high flows present today, it was once again an island. It is on US Forest service land behind a school.
Dale's Island
Dale's Island
Dale's Island
Dale's Island
I stopped and spoke to some of the homeowners that live on the adjacent property and we talked about our river Islands project and Dale's Island. There were some good sized silver maple trees, and sycamore trees, but nothing of exceptional size. Under normal flow conditions the channel between the island and shore is dry and these trees could be easily measured at that time. I also saw black willow, basswood, and white ash trees on the island area proper. I am sure a 10 species Rucker Height Index could be generated fairly easily. The lower end of the peninsula floodplain adjacent to King Island could be seen across the river.

Edward Frank
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"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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