was at a place called Onoville Marina. Onoville is a small town located off the Southern Tier Expressway. (now called Route 86) It is located not too far away from the Allegany State Park, as well as Kinzua (pronounced Kin’zoo) Dam. The Kinzua Dam was constructed from 1960 until completion in 1965.
Kinzua Dam was a very controversial construction, as it displaced many Seneca Indians (Native Americans). The land where they were living would be flooded and become part of the Allegany Resevoir, or Kinzua Lake. Many little ranch homes were built in the Onoville area that would house the displaced Indians. Country singer, Johnny Cash, recorded a song called As Long as the Grass Shall Grow, which dealt with the Kinzua Dam, specifically, and is the first song on his album entitled Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indians.
The Kinzua Dam was built to help control both the Allegany and Ohio Rivers. In 1972, New York was pounded with rains which were the remnants of Hurricane Agnes. The waters rose, and the dam came to within three feet of its capacity! Needless to say, it saved a great deal of damage to those south of the dam, as well as possibly countless lives.
I must mention that I grew up just a short distance from the dam, and as a child, witnessed the construction, as my father was in awe of the enormity of the undertaking. (Kinzua is the largest dam east of the Mississippi River.) I remember many stories that were told during construction, regarding rattlesnakes, which abound in the area….
So, enough of the history lesson! The reason we came to the marina is because when Mark purchased the inflatable kayaks for the kids and me, he also purchased one for my brother, Randy, in case he wanted one as well. We wanted Randy to try the kayak out before he bought it from us, as we were not able to use them in the state park. We were unaware they weren’t allowed until Mark saw a sign. He called the park police who informed him that if the inflatable kayaks were spotted in the water, a “hefty fine” would be levied…
This whole incident caused Mark to do a great deal of research (yes, from his laptop and cell phone, while we were out camping) He called the New York Parks numbers until he could get to the top to try to figure out this mess. He spoke to one man who is in charge of 20 parks in downstate New York who said he had never heard any rules where inflatables were prohibited from parks. After sorting through all he had been told, Mark came to the conclusion that it seems that if a park is situated in such a way that a lake is fully contained within the state park, and the park offers canoe/paddleboat/rowboat rentals, all inflatables are prohibited. If the park is located along a public waterway or lake, inflatables are allowed.
At this point, I must make mention that the inflatable kayaks we bought are not “toys”. They are incredibly durable and the top of the kayaks are covered in a rugged nylon fabric. The kayaks are made with two separate bladders…..one is located inside the other. In the event that the outer bladder fails, the inner one would provide enough buoyancy to float the kayak to safety. Also, New York state law requires the usage of life vests in all boats.
Having said all of the above, we four kayakers headed out into the deep dark waters of the Kinzua Lake! We paddled around from about 2 in the afternoon until nearly 5! The kids, Randy, and I all had a ball and agreed that we had to do this again!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take my cameras onboard with me. I would love to take photos from the kayak, as life is different witnessed at water level! I saw a fish that seemed quite large jump up from the water a short distance from me. I know I never would have caught that shot anyway, as I was paddling at the time, but there were many other shots that would have been so beautiful! A few times, we were able to “catch the wake” created by power boats and it was a ball, bouncing about on the waves!
The memories of this outing are ones that I will cherish….it was so much fun paddling with my brother and my children!