The mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania provide the setting for the most popular whitewater in America: the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle. People from all over the nation come to run the rapids, while others simply enjoy the natural beauty of Ohiopyle State Park. But this Appalachian river has many faces as it flows from its source among the scattered mountain farms of western Maryland to its confluence with the Monongahela in the industrial outskirts of Pittsburgh. Though always a home to people who cherish their mountain roots, the region’s river offers recreation for millions of Americans.
By canoe, raft, van, and on foot, Tim Palmer explores the river from its highest spring to its industrial end. He writes about the people – afternoon visitors and eigth-generation natives – and about their pasts and their hopes, about the shaping of the land, and the land’s inevitable shaping of them.
The author chronicles the rise of the five Ohiopyle rafting companies that host 80,000 visitors each year and then takes the reader on one of these outfitted voyages. Finally, Palmer paddles beyond the Appalachians to the river’s urban end near Pittsburgh. Strip mining, land development, and recreation management are examined with a consciousness that asks, What will happen to this remarkable but threatened place?