The Allegheny River, as seen from downtown Pittsburgh. Clarion university Aquatic Ecologist Andrew Turner says if rivers were called by volume that their biggest tributary, the Mississippi River can technically be called the Allegheny River.
next to steel and Super bowl championships, Pittsburgh is synonymous with three rivers. In the summer, the 3 Rivers arts Festival restrict downtown and also the moniker is part of a number of companies in the an ar -- not to point out there supplied to it is in a stadium the bore the name.

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But does the city technically have actually three distinctive rivers?

Lorraine Caplan, that Squirrel Hill, and Ken Jakub,of McCandless, wondered, too. Both asked if the Allegheny and also Monongahela rivers truly created a brand-new waterway with the Ohio.

Clarion university Aquatic Ecologist Andrew Turner, an skilled in limnology, the examine of body of fresh water, claimed technically, no, there space not three different rivers.

“That’s simply a method of breaking things up to do it simpler to organize,” Turner said. “That’s an attempt to kind of placed a person structure ~ above a organic process.”

Turner said transforming the surname of a flow is usually regarded a region’s history or the society surrounding the waterway. The Ohio, because that example, means “Great River” in Seneca and Iroquoian.


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Credit Keith Srakocic / AP
Boats native the Gateway Clipper fleet float in ~ Pittsburgh's confluence. Pittsburgh has always been recognized for its 3 rivers, however some water experts say geologically, there are two.
But if rivers were named based on limnologic components alone, Turner claimed downstream waterways would an ext likely bear the surname of their largest tributary.

At the confluence that the Mississippi and the Ohio Rivers in Cairo, Ill., the Ohio is 281,500 cubic feet every second, when the Mississippi just upstream in Thebes, Ill. Is 208,200 cu ft/s. Following the Ohio upstream to Pittsburgh, the Allegheny is about 19,750 cu ft/s, when the Monongahela is just 8,433 cu ft/s.

By the measure, the Mississippi River can actually be called the Allegheny.

Turner claimed he recognizes that the technique can it is in confusing, considering it’s rare to surname rivers this way, however it’s funny to think about. He said the U.S. Geological Survey, i m sorry names and documents rivers, i will not ~ be transforming the surname of the Mississippi any time soon.

“They greatly weigh the traditional, cultural names the rivers in making those choices,” Turner said.

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Credit U.S. Geological Survey
This map indigenous the U.S. Geological inspection shows various regions that the hydrological unit code, another an approach of categorizing rivers and other waterways. Pittsburgh's rivers room in the Ohio drainage basin.
Another technique used by limnologists is the hydrological unit code, or, HUC, system, in i beg your pardon rivers are assigned codes based on regions, watersheds and tributaries. The top Allegheny River’s HUC is 05010001, when the upper Monongahela’s is 05020003.

Turner stated that when the HUC device makes a lot of sense, the “hasn’t really recorded on outside of clinical circles.”

Riverscouldalso be called by complying with their lengthiest tributary upstream.

With the example, the Madison river in Yellowstone national Park,Wyo., at 183 miles, would be the headwaters of the Mississippi, and also therefore warrant that namesake.

So barring any kind of striking geology evidence, Turner stated there will always be 3 rivers in Pittsburgh.

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