Location and Area Description

The Beech Creek Watershed is located in Northcentral Pennsylvania and includes parts of Centre and Clinton Counties. The head waters of Beech Creek, the main drainage of the watershed, originate to the north and south of the Snow Shoe Region of Centre County. Beech Creek flows in an generally easterly direction toward its mouth which is located southeast of the town of Beech Creek and below the Sayers Dam. Beech Creek drains into the Bald Eagle Creek at its mouth. The watershed is described on the USGS 7.5 minute series Topographic Maps that follow.



Drainage Information

The Beech Creek Watershed is part of the Susquehanna River Basin. - (HUC = 02050000) - (Drainage List L)


Physiographic Province Information

Beech Creek, a tributary to the Bald Eagle Creek, is located in Northcentral Pennsylvania. The Beech Creek Watershed consists of 171-square mile area that spans both the Appalachian Plateaus Province and the Ridge and Valley Province.

The portion of the watershed, from the mouth of Beech Creek to an upstream location near the town of Beech Creek, where the Creek crosses the Allegheny Front, lies in the Appalachian Mountain Section of the Ridge and Valley Province.

Upstream of the town of Beech Creek to a location near the town of Orviston, Beech Creek flows through the Allegheny Front Section of the Appalachian Plateaus Province.

Upstream from Orviston, Beech Creek flows through the Deep Valleys Section of the Appalachian Plateaus Province until a location near its forks. From this location, the North Fork of Beech Creek flows into the main stream from the Pittsburgh Low Plateau Section of the Appalachian Plateaus Province and the South Fork of Beech Creek flows into the main stream from the Allegheny Front Section of the Appalachian Plateaus Province.

Section Descriptions

Appalachian Mountain Section of the Ridge and Valley Physiographic Province
Dominant Topographic Form: Long narrow ridges and broad to narrow valleys; some karst.
Local Relief: Moderate to very high.
Underlying Rock Type: Sandstone, siltstone, shale, conglomerate, limestone, and dolomite.
Geologic Structure: Open and closed plunging folds, having narrow hinges and planar limbs; variety of faults.
Approximate Elevation: Min. 440 feet / Max. 1,715 feet
Drainage Pattern: Trellis, angulate, and some karst.
Eastern Boundaries: Base of slope change of eastern ridges; arbitrary between ridges.
Origin: Fluvial erosion; solution of carbonate rocks; periglacial mass wasting.

Allegheny Front Section of the Appalachian Plateaus Province
Dominant Topographic Form: In the East, rounded to linear hills rising by steps to an escarpment; hills cut by narrow valleys.
Local Relief: Moderate to high.
Underlying Rock Type: Shale, siltstone, and sandstone.
Geologic Structure: Beds having low northwest dip; some faults
Approximate Elevation: Min. 540 feet / Max. 2,980 feet
Drainage Pattern: Parallel and trellis.
Eastern Boundaries: Stream at base of hills below escarpment.
Origin: Fluvial erosion; some periglacial mass wasting.

Deep Valleys Section of the Appalachian Plateaus Province
Dominant Topographic Form: Very deep, angular valleys; some broad to narrow uplands.
Local Relief: Moderate to high.
Underlying Rock Type: Sandstone, siltstone, shale, and conglomerate.
Geologic Structure: Moderate-amplitude, open folds that control valley orientations.
Approximate Elevation: Min. 540 feet / Max. 2,560 feet
Drainage Pattern: Angulate and rectangular.
Eastern Boundaries: Arbitrary at margins of deep valleys, either at top of valley slope or along drainage divide.
Origin: Fluvial erosion; periglacial mass wasting.

Pittsburgh Low Plateau Section of the Appalachian Plateaus Province
Dominant Topographic Form: Smooth to irregular, undulating surface; narrow, relatively shallow valleys; strip mines and reclaimed land.
Local Relief: Low to moderate.
Underlying Rock Type: Shale, siltstone, limestone, and coal.
Geologic Structure: Moderate-to low-amplitude, open folds, decreasing in occurrence northwestward.
Approximate Elevation: Min. 660 feet / Max. 2,340 feet
Drainage Pattern: Dendritic.
Eastern Boundaries: Arbitrary at topographic changes with adjacent sections.
Origin: Fluvial erosion; periglacial mass wasting, strip mining.

Source: PA DCNR, Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey - "Physiographic Provinces - Map 13"
Map of Physiographic Provinces of Pennsylvania available from DCNR, Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey



Geologic Information

The bedrock geology that is exhibited in the Beech Creek Watershed results from depositonal events that occurred during three periods of geologic time. The oldest rocks exist to the south of the Allegheny Front Boundary in the region of the mouth of the watershed and were deposited during the Devonian Period, some 365-405 million years ago. The majority of the watershed is underlain by rock that was deposited during the Mississippian Period that lasted from 330-365 million years ago. The Pennsylvanian Period, that lasted from 290-330 million years ago, produced the youngest rocks that are found in portions of the upper watershed.

DEVONIAN PERIOD
(365405 mil. yrs.)
Red sandstone, gray shale, black shale, limestone, and chert.
Flagstone, silica sand, clay, lime.

MISSISSIPPIAN PERIOD
(330365 mil. yrs.)
Red and gray sand stone, shale, and limestone.
Flagstone, limestone, clay.

PENNSYLVANIAN PERIOD
(290330 mil. yrs.)
Cyclic sequences of sandstone, red and gray shale, conglomerate, clay, coal, and limestone.
Coal, clay, lime, building stone.

Resources: Distribution of Pennsylvania Coals Map


Climate

State College, Centre County, PA10-Year30-Year103-Year
Average Temperatures49.3149.2149.31
Average Rain or Liquid Equivalent41.7839.7038.63
Average Snow and/or Ice Pellets53.8049.1046.40

Source: Pennsylvania State University Campus Weather Service



Stream Flow

Stream Flow Data for Beech Creek at Monument, Center County, Pennsylvania

USGS Station Number 01547950 - Hydrologic Unit Code 02050204

Drainage Area = 152.0 square miles

Latitude: 41deg 06min 42sec Longitude: 77deg 42min 09sec NAD27

Station Location: On right bank 800 feet downstream from bridge at Monument, 850 feet downstream from Monument Run, 0.6 miles upstream from Twin Run and 8.7 miles upstream from mouth.

Gage datum 741.60 feet above sea level NGVD29
Year
Annual mean
streamflow,
in cubic ft/s
Year
Annual mean
streamflow,
in cubic ft/s
Year
Annual mean
streamflow,
in cubic ft/s
Year Annual mean
streamflow,
in cubic ft/s
1969 185* 1970 327 1971 246 1972 397
1973 260 1974 307 1975 355 1976 241
1977 300 1978 276 1979 370 1980 170
1981 280 1982 260 1983 270 1984 324
1985 224 1986 267 1987 227 1988 164
1989 236 1990 355 1991 181 1992 234
1993 340 1994 335 1995 180 1996 387
1997 205 1998 259 1999 ** -- --

Source: USGS Water Data
*Partial Year (10/1/69 to 12/31/69 only)
**Partial Year (9/30/99 to 12/31/99 only)


North Fork of Beech Creek - Data Range (05/01/1969 to 10/14/1970)

Stream Flow Data for the North Fork of Beech Creek, Center County, Pennsylvania

USGS Station Number 01547770 - Hydrologic Unit Code 02050204

Drainage Area = 20.8 square miles

Latitude: 41deg 02min 54sec Longitude: 077deg 52min 11sec NAD27

Station Location: Within 500 feet upstream of mouth

Datum of gage is 1,230.00 feet above sea level NGVD29

Month/Year Monthly mean
streamflow,
in cubic ft/s
Month/Year Monthly mean
streamflow,
in cubic ft/s
Month/Year Monthly mean
streamflow,
in cubic ft/s
05/1969 34.0 06/1969 18.6 07/1969 8.6
08/1969 13.4 09/1969 5.1 10/1969 5.1
11/1969 24.5 12/1969 26.5 01/1970 15.9
02/1970 46.1 03/1970 54.6 04/1970 85.7
05/1970 37.2 06/1970 15.2 07/1970 14.3
08/1970 10.2 09/1970 4.6 10/1970 6.2*

Source: USGS Water Data
*Partial Month (10/1/1970 to 10/14/1970)



The Problem

In 1819 coal was discovered by a hunting party near the Snow Shoe area of the watershed. At this time most homes were heated with wood and coal mining was limited to local use. This all changed in 1859 when the Bellefonte and Snow Shoe Railroad was completed. Now trainloads of coal and timber could be moved to markets in the East. Eventually, the New York Central lines were connected and coal mining mushroomed. Mining practices at this time involved digging tunnels or shafts that sometimes sloped sharply downward for several hundred feet.

Many mining villages were scattered over the coal bearing regions of the watershed and local coal industries flourished. For example, in the 1880's about 100 coke ovens were located in the Clarence area. The coal was brought in by train and made into coke, which had a ready market in Pittsburgh as a fuel for the iron furnaces.

Deep mining in the watershed has ceased long ago and the mines were abandoned. Today, the names of the mining villages are no more than memories. But the problems associated with the early deep mining and the later "strip" mining methods linger on. They include openings such as deep mine entries, refuse piles, subsidence and 'ponding' areas, altered landscapes which were not reclaimed, and the exposure of acid bearing overburden to air and water. These problems are the source of the mine drainage that plagues the watershed. About 4 % or 7 square miles of the watershed had been disturbed by currently inactive coal and clay strip mines by the 1970's.

Beech Creek is impaired due to coal mine drainage resulting from inactive deep and strip mines located within the watershed. All of the mine drainage in the watershed eventually flows into Beech Creek, which is badly polluted with high acid, iron, and aluminum loadings. Beech Creek with its headwaters in the Snow Shoe Region, flows in an easterly direction through Centre and Clinton Counties toward its mouth, just south of the town of Beech Creek, where it enters the Bald Eagle Creek. The watershed extends over an area of 172-square miles. Today the result is that the beautiful, but polluted, waters of Beech Creek and much of the watershed represent a "lost treasure" to the people of central Pennsylvania.

Additional Factors Contributing to the Beech Creek Watershed Problems




Watershed Inventory

To view locations listed in the Watershed Inventory list, see the Watershed Stream Diagram

Watershed: Beech Creek

Sub-watershed: South Fork Beech Creek
  Drainage: South Fork Beech Creek
    Sub-sub-watershed: SF-1
      Drainage: SF-1
    Sub-sub-watershed: Stinktown Run
      Drainage: Stinktown Run
        Sub-drainage: STR-1
    Sub-sub-watershed: Horsehead Run
      Drainage: Horsehead Run
    Sub-sub-watershed: Butts Run
      Drainage: Butts Run
        Sub-drainage: BUR-A
    Sub-sub-watershed: Jonathan Run
      Drainage: Jonathan Run
    Sub-sub-watershed: SF-2
      Drainage: SF-2
    Sub-sub-watershed: SF-3
      Drainage: SF-3
    Sub-sub-watershed: SF-4
      Drainage: SF-4

Sub-watershed: North Fork Beech Creek
  Drainage: North Fork Beech Creek
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-1
      Drainage: NF-1
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-2
      Drainage: NF-2
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-3
      Drainage: NF-3
    Sub-sub-watershed: Cherry Run
      Drainage: Cherry Run
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-4
      Drainage: NF-4
    Sub-sub-watershed: Little Sandy Run
      Drainage: Little Sandy Run
        Sub-drainage: LSR-A
        Sub-drainage: LSR-B
          Sub-sub-drainage: LSR-B-1
        Sub-drainage: LSR-C
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-5
      Drainage: NF-5
        Sub-drainage: NF-5-A
        Sub-drainage: NF-5-B
          Sub-sub-drainage: NF-5-B-1
        Sub-drainage: NF-5-C
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-6
      Drainage: NF-6
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-7
      Drainage: NF-7
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-8
      Drainage: NF-8
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-9
      Drainage: NF-9
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-10
      Drainage: NF-10
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-11
      Drainage: NF-11
    Sub-sub-watershed: NF-12
      Drainage: NF-12

Sub-watershed: Beech Creek   Drainage: Beech Creek
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-1
      Drainage: BC-1
    Sub-sub-watershed: Rock Run
      Drainage: Rock Run
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-2
      Drainage: BC-2
        Sub-drainage: BC-2-A
    Sub-sub-watershed: Sandy Run
      Drainage: Sandy Run
        Sub-drainage: SR-A
        Sub-drainage: SR-B
        Sub-drainage: Contrary Run
        Sub-drainage: Beauty Run
          Sub-sub-drainage: BEA-A
            Sub-sub-sub-drainage: BEA-A-1
            Sub-sub-sub-drainage: BEA-A-2
          Sub-sub-drainage: BEA-B
        Sub-drainage: SR-C
          Sub-sub-drainage: SR-C-1
        Sub-drainage: SR-D
        Sub-drainage: SR-E
        Sub-drainage: SR-F
        Sub-drainage: SR-G
          Sub-sub-drainage: SR-G-1
    Sub-watershed: Wolf Run
      Drainage: Wolf Run
        Sub-drainage: WR-A
        Sub-drainage: WR-B
        Sub-drainage: WR-C
        Sub-drainage: WR-D
        Sub-drainage: WR-E
        Sub-drainage: WR-F
        Sub-drainage: WR-G
        Sub-drainage: WR-H
        Sub-drainage: Little Wolf Run
          Sub-sub-drainage: LWR-A
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-3
      Drainage: BC-3
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-4
      Drainage: BC-4
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-5
      Drainage: BC-5
      Sub-sub-watershed: BC-6
      Drainage: BC-6
    Sub-sub-watershed: Panther Run
      Drainage: Panther Run
        Sub-drainage: PR-A
        Sub-drainage: PR-B
          Sub-sub-drainage: PR-B-1
        Sub-drainage: PR-C
          Sub-sub-drainage: PR-C-1
        Sub-drainage: PR-D
          Sub-sub-drainage: PR-D-1
        Sub-sub-watershed: BC-7
      Drainage: BC-7
    Sub-sub-watershed: Eddy Lick Run
      Drainage: Eddy Lick Run
        Sub-drainage: ELR-A
        Sub-drainage: ELR-B
          Sub-sub-drainage: ELR-B-1
        Sub-drainage: ELR-C
        Sub-drainage: ELR-D
          Sub-sub-drainage: ELR-D-1
          Sub-sub-drainage: ELR-D-2
        Sub-drainage: ELR-E
        Sub-draniage: ELR-F
        Sub-drainage: ELR-G
          Sub-sub-drainage: ELR-G-1
        Sub-drainage: ELR-H
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-8
      Drainage: BC-8
    Sub-sub-watershed: Logway Run
      Drainage: Logway Run
    Sub-sub-watershed: Council Run
      Drainage: Council Run
        Sub-drainage: CR-A
        Sub-drainage: CR-B
          Sub-sub-drainage: CR-B-1
          Sub-sub-drainage: CR-B-2
          Sub-sub-drainage: CR-B-3
        Sub-drainage: CR-C
          Sub-sub-drainage: CR-C-1
        Sub-drainage: CR-D
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-9
      Drainage: BC-9
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-10
      Drainage: BC-10
    Sub-sub-watershed: Two Rock Run
      Drainage: Two Rock Run
        Sub-drainage: TR-A
    Sub-sub-watershed: Three Rock Run
      Drainage: Three Rock Run
    Sub-sub-watershed: Hayes Run
      Drainage: Hayes Run
        Sub-drainage: HR-A
          Sub-sub-drainage: HR-A-1
        Sub-drainage: HR-B
        Sub-drainage: HR-C
        Sub-drainage: Little Hayes Run
          Sub-sub-drainage: LHR-A
          Sub-sub-drainage: LHR-B
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-11
      Drainage: BC-11
    Sub-sub-watershed: Big Run
      Drainage: Big Run
        Sub-drainage: East Branch
          Sub-sub-drainage: EB-A
          Sub-sub-drainage: Swamp Branch
            Sub-sub-sub-drainage: Coon Run
          Sub-sub-drainage: EB-B
          Sub-sub-drainage: EB-C
        Sub-drainage: Middle Branch
          Sub-sub-drainage: Spring Run
          Sub-sub-drainage: MB-A
          Sub-sub-drainage: MB-B
          Sub-sub-drainage: MB-C
          Sub-sub-drainage: MB-D
          Sub-sub-drainage: Sinking Spring Branch
            Sub-sub-sub-drainage: SS-A
        Sub-drainage: BR-A
        Sub-drainage: West Branch
          Sub-sub-drainage: WB-A
          Sub-sub-drainage: WB-B
          Sub-sub-drainage: Panther Branch
            Sub-sub-sub-drainage: PB-A
          Sub-sub-drainage: WB-C
            Sub-sub-sub-drainage: WB-C-1
          Sub-sub-drainage: Owl Hollow Run
          Sub-sub-drainage: Little Bear Run
          Sub-sub-drainage: Bear Run
            Sub-sub-sub-drainage: BER-A
          Sub-sub-drainage: WB-D
        Sub-drainage: BR-B
        Sub-drainage: BR-C
          Sub-sub-drainage: BR-C-1
          Sub-sub-drainage: BR-C-2
          Sub-sub-drainage: BR-C-3
    Sub-sub-watershed: Salt Lick Run
      Drainage: Salt Lick Run
        Sub-drainage: SLR-A (Trapping Hol.)
    Sub-sub-watershed: Green Run
      Drainage: Green Run
    Sub-sub-watershed: Monument Run
      Drainage: Monument Run
        Sub-drainage: MR-A
        Sub-drainage: MR-B
        Sub-drainage: MR-C
        Sub-drainage: MR-D
        Sub-drainage: MR-E
          Sub-sub-drainage: MR-E-1
            Sub-sub-sub-drainage: MR-E-1-a
        Sub-drainage: MR-F
        Sub-drainage: MR-G
    Sub-sub-watershed: Twin Run
      Drainage: Twin Run
        Sub-drainage: TWR-A
        Sub-drainage: TWR-B
        Sub-drainage: TWR-C
        Sub-drainage: TWR-D
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-12
      Drainage: BC-12
        Sub-drainage: BC-12-A
        Sub-drainage: Sugar Camp Run
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-13 (The Cove)
      Drainage: BC-13
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-14
      Drainage: BC-14
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-15
      Drainage: BC-15
        Sub-drainage: BC-15-A
        Sub-drainage: BC-15-B
        Sub-drainage: BC-15-C
    Sub-sub-watershed: BC-16
      Drainage: BC-16
    Sub-sub-watershed: Bitner Run
      Drainage: Bitner Run
        Sub-drainage: BIT-A
        Sub-drainage: BIT-B
        Sub-drainage: BIT-C
    Sub-sub-watershed: Sugar Run
      Drainage: Sugar Run



Previous Reclamation Efforts in the Watershed

  1. Deep Mine Entries
    In the 1930's, the Federal Works Progress Administration constructed about 12 air seals in the deep mine entries in the Lower Kittanning seam. These are ineffective due to:
    • The shallow cover of the Lower Kittanning seam
    • The collapsing of the ground surface around the seal has collapsed around the seals.
    • The existence of Extensive fissuring of overburden. This has allowed air to enter the abandoned deep mines.
  2. Appalachian Strip Mine Reclamation Project No. 2
    Located in Kato area. This was a project completed in 1971 to reclaim 175 acres of badly restored strip mine land. The project was a combined Federal and Commonwealth effort that was approved 1965 by Appalachian Regional Commission.



Watershed History - Notes & Timeline

Notes

  • Native Americans called Beech Creek 'Schauweminsch-Hanne' which meant beech stream.
  • Beech Creek and it's Watershed were described as they were prior to 1807 by the late Harry Lingle in his "History of Beech Creek Area of Clinton County PA". Beech Creek was described as "a fast-flowing, crystal clear creek, with beech trees along its banks". The heavily forested area of the watershed northward was described traveling northward from Bald Eagle Creek with "its fresh water streams and deep, thickly-vegetated ravines have provided good fishing and perhaps the best hunting ground in the commonwealth."

Timeline

Date Event
1787 Marks the first Settlement in permanent settlement in what is now Beech Creek Township. The Hays family took up residence adjacent to the mouth of Beech Creek Stream on their land which was received as a grant for military service in the Revolution.
1819 Coal was first discovered by a hunting party composed of Col. John Molt, his son, John Holt, Samuel Askey, Charles Lucas, Baptist Lucas, and Joseph Lucas in an out-cropping close by a spring on Samuel Askey's land in the Snow Shoe region.
1819 Marks the date of the first coal mining in Centre County. Daniel Weaver was engaged to haul a load of the coal discovered by the Molt hunting party, to the blacksmith's shop of John Hall that was located in Bellefonte.
|
Valentines & Thomas were the first to make an effort towards important coal-mining operations in Snow Shoe. Mines were opened from time to time for local supply, notably by Samuel Gunsalus, Thomas Mayes, John Lucas, George Graham, and Meese Gunsalus.
1841 The first saw-mill in the Snow Shoe Region was put in motion by James on Beech Creek.
1850 Beech Creek Township was organized.
1859 The Bellefonte and Snow Shoe Railroad was completed.
1881 The Snow Shoe Coal Company was incorporated with a capital of five hundred thousand dollars. This lead to Berwind, White and Company, one of the largest coal mining companies in the country, sharing in coal rights.

Sources:
History of Beech Creek Area of Clinton County PA, 1981, Harry Lingle
History of Centre County, Pennsylvania



Township/Municipal/Population/Demographics Information

County Municipality Population 1990 Census Population 2000 Census
Centre Boggs Township 2,686 2,834
Centre Burnside Township 390 410
Centre Curtin Township 516 551
Centre Howard Borough 749 699
Centre Howard Township 1,004 924
Centre Liberty Township 1,747 1,830
Centre Snow Shoe Borough 800 771
Centre Snow Shoe Township 1,756 1,760
Centre Union Township 895 1,200
Clinton Beech Creek Borough 716 717
Clinton Beech Creek Township 1,007 1,010
Clinton Noyes Township 463 419
Totals 12,729 13,125

Demographic Data is Available From the Pennsylvania State Data Center