The Allegheny River at the center of a conference of the Historical Society | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo Times Observer by Josh Cotton Piper VanOrd talks about the Allegheny River during a Thursday presentation hosted by the Warren County Historical Society

There’s a litany of things in the community that are taken for granted, things that you assume will always be there.

The Allegheny River can often be one of those things. The Warren County Historical Society sought through a pair of programs this spring to put the river front and center.

This obviously includes the history of the river in shaping the community.

Thursday evening meant the present and the future of the river.

“The truth is, as long as we love the river, continuing to clean the river…that’s what matters,” said Piper VanOrd, Thursday’s speaker.

The goal?

So “Generations long after we are all gone can go there and enjoy it like we do. That’s my hope for any sort of future for the river. That’s the hope I have.

VanOrd’s connection to the river goes far beyond his company, Allegheny Outfitters. Thursday’s presentation consisted of a series of photos, the first of each season.

“I always love the morning light” she says. “Spring is starting to bring what we have today: lots of mush, buds in the streets. (I) am starting to get a little excited.

Over the seasons, VanOrd pointed out that “The only constant thing on the river is change.”

But the river is more than a landscape. VanOrd featured photos of all kinds of wildlife she’s seen, from herons, deer and bald eagles to lesser species like caddis and dobsonians.

But it is the people who make the culture of the river what it has become.

For VanOrd, this included a woman in her 90s who celebrated her birthday every year with a paddle, a trip with representatives of the Seneca Indian Nation as well as a business with a group of refugees resettling in Erie.

“They weren’t thrilled to get on the river,” she says, “And then as we…put our paddle in motion, at the end they were pretty proud of what they had achieved and they should be because it was a big deal.”

Human stories also include the Allegheny River Cleanup which has removed tons of trash from the river over the years.

She ended the presentation with a photo of her daughter taken on a camping trip to one of the islands in the river.

“Sometimes we need that reminder to slow down and that reminder to just take a break,” she says. “(There is) nothing that reminds me and helps me do that more than this river.”

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