French Creek, near Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.jpg

French Creek, near Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania

Prior to the last ice age, French Creek flowed north to Lake Erie and then to the Atlantic Ocean. Later, retreating glaciers deposited a thick layer of rock debris in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania. Its terminal moraine blocked the creek and forced it to reverse course and flow south joining the Allegheny River, which runs into the Ohio and then Mississippi River, eventually draining into the Gulf of Mexico. The creek remains one of the most ecologically healthy and biologically diverse waterways in the United States.

Named by George Washington in 1753 in recognition of early French voyageurs who canoed the river for the fur trade, French Creek meandered past the village of Deadwater. Aptly titled on maps for the creek’s slow current through this section of its course, the settlement was later renamed Cambridge Springs as it transformed into a destination for those attracted to the supposed curative powers of its mineral rich spring waters. Adjacent to the ruins of the last remaining resort, the riverbend caused a back eddy that ensnared the trunk of a fallen tree under its cut bank.

- James Baker