Horse Valley Run

River of the month #29

author: Pat Reilly
date: September 2000

Doug Gibson and I ran this little brook while exploring Perry/Juniata County creeks after some devastating rains in September ‘96. It was our third creek of the day and we barely got it in before dark. The run drains a secluded mountain valley of the same name made famous when the residents wanted to secede from Perry County. (Can’t imagine why.) It then flows through a gap in Tuscarora Mountain to join Tuscarora Creek at the town of East Waterford in Juniata County.

As we drove up the road out of East Waterford toward the gap we were gleefully anticipating a new steep creek run and thinking about how lucky we were to catch such a small creek at runnable levels. But we were soon brought down to earth when we noticed furniture drying out on front yards, garden tractors turned upside down, toppled sheds, broken windows and trees littered with debris. That which is our recreation had just turned the local residents’ lives inside out. We drove up as far as we could go until a big road grader blocked our path. The road beyond had been washed out by the flood the previous day.

A few big drops at the beginning and the creek settled down to a respectable 75 ft/mile with plenty of twists and turns but only one must-carry strainer. After one and a half miles we arrived at the mouth, where we again saw evidence of the damaging power of little Horse Valley Run. It had washed out half of a service station parking lot leaving big slabs of asphalt littering the creek bed.

Returning home and checking the topo maps, I noticed that we had put in at the end of a stretch that dropped 150 ft/mile. Had we known we would have carried up past the grader. Oh well, maybe next time. I just hope next time doesn’t follow the destruction we witnessed that day.

Pat Reilly

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