Pymatuning Reservoir

Pymatuning Reservoir

Pymatuning Reservoir is a man-made lake in Crawford County, Pennsylvania and Ashtabula County, Ohio in the United States, on land that was once a very large swamp. Much of it is incorporated into two state parks: Pymatuning State Park in Pennsylvania, and Pymatuning State Park in Ohio.


The first known inhabitants were the Mound builders. Two of their mounds were flooded by the creation of Pymatuning Lake. The Lenape were living in the area when European settlers fist came there. The lake is named for the chief who lived in the area at the time, Pihmtomink. The Lenape were pushed out of the area by the Seneca tribe, a member of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Seneca were defeated by General Anthony Wayne's forces during the Northwest Indian War and left the area under the terms of the Treaty of Greenville. This treaty marked the end of Native Americans inhabiting the area.

The first settlers to the area were farmers, whose life was not easy as the land was very swampy and very difficult to reclaim. Farm animals that wondered off were often lost in the quicksands of the swamp, or fell prey to predators like foxes, bears and mountain lions. The swamps were infested with mosquitoes that brought yellow fever to the settlers.

Dam and Lake

Building a dam on the Shenango River was first explored in 1911. A massive flood in 1913 caused $3 million in damage and took several lives. The Pennsylvania General Assembly approved a budget of $1.2 million to build at dam across the Shenango, but Governor John K. Tener slashed the budget to just $100,000.

The Pennsylvania legislature took action again in 1917, this time approving a $400,000 budget under the condition that the needed land in Ohio be purchased by the private sector. The Pymatuning Land Company was formed and raised the funds to purchase the needed Ohio properties. The land was finally acquired in full by 1931 when Governor Gifford Pinchot approved $1.5 million to complete the dam. 7,000 men began work on the dam in 1931 and the project was completed in 1934, with a final total cost of $3,717,739. The lake now holds 64.3 billion gallons (243.3 million m³) of water, covering 17,088 acres (69.15 km²) over a length of 17 miles (27 km) with a width of 1.6 miles (2.6 km) at the widest and 70 miles (113 km) of shoreline with a maximum depth of 35 feet (11 m). The lake has served to provide a water supply for the Shenango and Beaver valleys, it has lessened the damage caused by floods, and provided recreation for the people of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Two state parks, each named "Pymatuning State Park", are on the lake in Ohio and Pennsylvania.


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