Kinzua Dam’s Legacy

Work on the Kinzua Dam may have been completed in 1965 but the effects that the project brought to the communities in its wake live on.

Those effects will be the focal point of a presentation by Randy A. John Ph.D, curator of the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, to be given in the Main Courtroom at the Warren County Courthouse on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

“The social impact of the Kinzua Dam is still present today,” John said. “(It is) something that has not disappeared with one generation’s time.”

His presentation is titled “Kinzua Dam: The Displacement of the Elderly and the Effects.” According to a release from the Historical Society, “the presentation will examine the causes of the construction of the dam, the social and cultural changes faced by the native inhabitants of the Allegheny Valley, the involuntary dislocation estimates and the effects on the…Seneca way of life.”

John described his presentation as “powerfully sad, but real.” He added that “the loss of an entire community and way of life for the dislocated families, that’s kind of the area we’re talking about so it’s sad but it’s real.”

“The greater isolation of the elderly Senecas, there is a lower level of extended family social integration,” he added. “This is significant. The Seneca culture was affected dramatically negatively. Culture includes way of life, not just simple artifacts. It’s not limited to a residence but it’s much more powerful socially.”

John said that he is hopeful people will come to the presentation and bring pictures or newspaper clippings from the construction period.

The annual meeting of the Historical Society will be held at 6 p.m., also at the courthouse. John’s presentation will be preceded by local singer and songwriter Rich Geer who will perform “What a Wonder to Me,” a ballad inspired by the Kinzua Dam.