Falls Run Name Correction

Falls Run is an ecologically important tributary of Elk Creek, located in Erie County, Pennsylvania.  This stream has its origins near the St Lawrence Divide as it crosses Franklin Township in Erie County, PA.  Flowing northerly toward its confluence with Elk Creek, it passes through three Pennsylvania Natural Heritage areas, namely Falls Run-Shenango Creek Headwaters NHA, Falls Run NHA, and Falls Run Gorge NHA.  These wetlands, riparian habitats, and forest habitats support numerous species of imperiled, vulnerable, and other species of concern in the region.

During the surveys for this area conducted by Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, it was noted that Falls Run was incorrectly named Falk Run on various recent maps of the area.  It was speculated that the ‘ls’ of Falls was mistaken as a ‘k’ at some point in the past, and from then on those maps named the stream as Falk Run.

While we may never be able to determine when that error took place.  Instead, it is instructive to document the correct nomenclature for the stream as ‘Falls Run’, by turning to early publications that document the stream and its name.

The best source for the name can be found in the Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania, conducted from 1874-1889.  The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources states:  “Described in 1924 as “the most remarkable series of reports ever issued by any survey,” the Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania (1874-1889) produced an unprecedented volume and quality of geologic reports. With over 80 texts, nearly 600 accompanying maps and illustrations, a hand atlas, a six-volume grand atlas, and miscellaneous other publications, the Second Survey contains a treasure trove of geologic, economic and historic information about Pennsylvania during the Golden Age.”

The publications of the Second Survey are available as part of the Pennsylvania Geology Digital Collection.

In the report for Erie and Crawford Counties from this Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania, published in 1881, are found numerous references to “Falls Run”.  These references are shown on the following pages. 

In summary these include:

Page 4:  “Stone Quarry on Fall’s Run”

Page 18:  “Elk creek and its southern branches, South branch, Falls, Goodban’s…”

Page 22:  “Fall’s run mouth,…”

Page 247:  “Fall’s run flows northward past Howard’s quarry….”

Page 248:  “Fall’s run section.” (Heading for table on page.)

Page 251:  “…mouth of Falls run…..”

Page 252:  “…..parallel to Falls run,….”

Page 253:  “Crossing of Falls run at stone quarry,”

In addition, several maps accompanied the publication of the volume.  One map, “Geological Map of Crawford and Erie Counties”, by IC White 1880 clearly designates the stream as “Fall’s Run. In addition, the 1865 F. W. Beers map of Franklin Township which clearly shows the stream labeled as Falls Run in box 59.

Franklin Township, County of Erie, and the State Natural Heritage Inventory recognize this stream by its rightful name of Falls Run.  It is hoped that the process of correcting this on maps at the State and Federal levels can be determined, and that process initiated.

Dennis D Howard

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