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The Cowanesque River in the Finger Lakes

The Cowanesque (COWA-NES-KEE) River gets its beginning (and end) in Tioga County, Pennsylvannia where it was dammed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and turned it into Cowanesque Lake. Obviously the lake can't hold all the water of the Cowanesque River, so whatever is released by the Army Corps of Engineers flowsThe Cowanesque River at the launch site under the U.S. Route 15 bridge looking upstream into Pennsylvania. northeast less than a mile, where it crosses under the historic U.S. Route 15-Cowanesque River Bridge. From there it travels only one more mile, where it meets up, in a rather dignified fashion, with the Tioga River. (Confluence is at 42°0'9.57"N 77°7'12.23"W)


The Cowanesque crosses into New York State near the west end of Mill Street in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania. At this point, the river is technically in the Town of Lindley, New York. It is easiest to find on a map at the point where it crosses under the U.S. Route 15 bridge just north of Lawrenceville.

Physical Features

For the mile that the river is in New York State, it is a freeflowing, gently flowing river whose banks are lined with native and non-native trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses.


The water is generally clear, however, the Army Corps of Engineers dumps/releases silt that has accumulated on the back of the dam into the Cowanesque whenever it pleases. This silt turns the water a dirty brown.


On the day this photo was taken, the water of the Cowanesque River was clear with only a slight amount of silt on the bottom.


This river is good only for kayaking and canoeing. Here are two places where you can put in:

U.S. Route 15 Bridge (42°0'6.12"N  77°7'38.06"W)  

At the south end of the bridge is a car wash. From the parking lot of the car wash is a well-used path down to the water under the bridge.

State Street Bridge (41°59'57.47"N 77° 6'55.16"W)

From the U.S. Route 15 bridge travel south just a short distance to the first street to the east. This is State Street. Travel to the end of the street where a bridge crosses the Tioga River. On the north side of the street just before you cross the bridge is a space for parking one or two vehicles. Carry your boat down the embankment to the river. You will be putting in just south of the confluence of the Cowanesque and the Tioga.

Water Level

The water level of the Cowanesque is at the whim of the Army Corps of Engineers. When it isn't raining, this is usually about 1 ft./30 cm.

Streamflow Conditions (Click on "Tioga River at Lindley")


The water of the Cowanesque is certainly clean enough to swim in, but it may not be deep enough for a real good dunk. On the other hand, if you're just interested in getting your feet wet, by all means, take your shoes off!


This part of Steuben County is very rural. Watch for birds like the gray catbird, who likes to hide in dense shrubbery, and the great blue heron, who likes to hunt for small fish and frogs while standing in the water. Bears are common in this area and are known to lie in creeks and rivers on hot summer days.



There are no bed and breakfasts along the Cowanesque, however, there are bed and breakfasts in the area.


There are a number of private, and municipal campgrounds in the area but none are directly on the river. The closest campground to the river is the one at Cowanesque Lake.


There are no motels in the immediate area. The closest one is probably The Erwin Motel. This would be a good choice if you plan to continue north on the Tioga River.


Created 23 August 2009





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