The Monongahela River (also known locally as the Mon /ˈmɒn/) is a river on the Allegheny Plateau in North-Central West Virginia and south western Pennsylvania in the United States. At Pittsburgh, it meets the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River.
The Monongahela is formed by the confluence
of the West Fork River
and the Tygart Valley River
at Fairmont, West Virginia
. The river is navigable its entire length with a series of locks and dams that maintain a minimum depth of to accommodate coal-laden barges. In Pennsylvania, the Monongahela is met by two major tributaries
: the Cheat River
, which joins at Point Marion
, and the Youghiogheny River
, which joins at McKeesport
The Monongahela Valley was the site of a famous, if small battle that was one of the first in the French and Indian War
). It resulted in a sharp defeat for British
forces against those of the French
and their Native American
The Monongahela Valley was the site of the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.
In 1817, the Pennsylvania legislature authorized the Monongahela Navigation Company to build 16 dams with bypass locks to create a river transportation system between Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Originally planned to run as far south as the Cheat River, the system was extended to Fairmont, and bituminous coal from West Virginia was the chief product transported downstream. After a canal tunnel through Grant's Hill in Pittsburgh was completed in 1832, boats could travel between the Monongahela River and the Western Division Canal of Pennsylvania's principal east-west canal and railroad system, the Main Line of Public Works. In 1897, the Federal government took possession of the Monongahela Navigation through condemnation proceedings. Later, the dam-lock combinations were increased in size and reduced in number. In 2006, the navigation system, operated by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, had nine dam-locks along of waterway. The locks overcame a change in elevation of about .
Briefly linked to the Monongahela Navigation was the Youghiogheny Navigation, a slack water system of between McKeesport and West Newton. It had two dam-locks overcoming a change in elevation of about . Opening in 1850, it was destroyed by a flood in 1865.
During the 19th century, the Monongahela was heavily used by industry, and several U.S. Steel plants, including the Homestead Works, site of the Homestead Strike of 1892, were built along its banks. Following the killing of several workers in the course of the strike, anarchist Emma Goldman wrote: "Words had lost their meaning in the face of the innocent blood spilled on the banks of the Monongahela."
Two ships in the United States Navy have been named Monongahela for the river.
The river was the site of a famous airplane crash that has become the subject of numerous urban legends and conspiracy theories. Early in the morning of January 31, 1956, a B-25 bomber en route from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to Olmstead Air Force Base in Pennsylvania crashed into the river near the Glenwood Bridge in Homestead, Pennsylvania. All six crewmen survived the crash but two later succumbed to exposure and drowned. Despite the relative shallowness of the water, the aircraft was never recovered.
- The Monongahela is uncommon as one of the few major navigable rivers in the world that flows north.
- Monongalia County, West Virginia is named for the river. The word "Monongalia" is a Latinized version of the Native American word "Monongahela," which means "falling banks," in reference to the geological instability of the river's banks.
- Monongahela, Pennsylvania is named after the river.
- The Monongahela Valley is referenced in the Bruce Springsteen song, "Youngstown"--on his 1995 album The Ghost of Tom Joad.
- "Monongahela" is uttered in the television show Seinfeld as one of Kramer's famous random expressions. The episode is the 23rd of the 6th season, "The Face Painter". The reference occurs around the 4th-5th minute of the show.
- It is also credited (incorrectly) by Michael Douglas in the film "The Wonder Boys" for washing away his unsaved book manuscript after Robert Downey Jr. crashes his car into a bowling alley. (This scene actually took place NW of the Monongahela River along the Ohio River in Rochester, PA).
- Montana Diaz Herrera/Sally Lerner (Ayda Field) of the television show Back To You has trouble pronouncing the name "Monongahela" when she has to mention it in her weather forecast.
- The Monongahela River was immortalized in the spoken introduction to actor/comedian Guy Marks' parody hit "Loving You Has Made Me Bananas" (1968).
Cities and towns along the Monongahela River
- Allenport, Pennsylvania
- Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania
- Braddock, Pennsylvania
- Brownsville, Pennsylvania
- California, Pennsylvania
- Charleroi, Pennsylvania
- Clairton, Pennsylvania
- Coal Center, Pennsylvania
- Donora, Pennsylvania
- Dravosburg, Pennsylvania
- Dunlevy, Pennsylvania
- Duquesne, Pennsylvania
- Elco, Pennsylvania
- Elizabeth, Pennsylvania
- Fairmont, West Virginia
- Fayette City, Pennsylvania
- Fredericktown-Millsboro, Pennsylvania
- Glassport, Pennsylvania
- Granville, West Virginia
- Greensboro, Pennsylvania
- Hiller, Pennsylvania
- Homestead, Pennsylvania
- McKeesport, Pennsylvania
- Monessen, Pennsylvania
Morgantown, West Virginia
New Eagle, Pennsylvania
North Braddock, Pennsylvania
North Charleroi, Pennsylvania
North Versailles Township, Pennsylvania
Point Marion, Pennsylvania
Port Vue, Pennsylvania
Rivesville, West Virginia
Star City, West Virginia
West Brownsville, Pennsylvania
West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania
West Mifflin, Pennsylvania
Westover, West Virginia
According to the Geographic Names Information System
, the Monongahela River has also been known historically as:
- Manaungahela River
- Mo-hon-ga-ly River
- Mo-hon-galy River
- Mo-hon-gey-e-la River