The Monongahela River begins at the confluence of the Tygart and West Fork Rivers in West Virginia and flows generally northward for 129 miles to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where it joins the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River.
The river, known locally as the Mon, is an important natural resource to the region. Traveling up and down the Monongahela are coal barges, tugs and other commercial vessel traffic, pleasure boats, paddlers, and others.
Along the banks of the river are communities, marinas, coal industry infrastructure, power plants, and other industrial facilities.
Monongahela River Locks and Dams
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) maintains a system of nine locks and dams on the Monongahela River, allowing vessels to navigate from The Point at Pittsburgh to just above Fairmont, West Virginia. Throughout the river, channels are maintained with depths of nine feet or greater.
Locks and Dams, listed from North to South:
Braddock Locks & Dam
Locks & Dam 3, Mon River
Locks & Dam 4, Mon River
Maxwell Locks & Dam
Grays Landing Lock & Dam
Point Marion Lock & Dam
Morgantown Lock & Dam
Hildebrand Lock & Dam
Opekiska Lock & Dam
Monongahela River Tributaries
Just below Fairmont, Buffalo Creek converges with the Monongahela. Around the next bend, Pricketts Creek joins the flow.
At Point Marion, Pennsylvania, the Cheat River joins the Monongahela. From this point, the river becomes wider before the confluence with Dunkard Creek.
Georges Creek joins the river near Greensboro, Pennsylvania. At Millsboro, South Fork Ten Mile Creek Joins the river.
Near McKeesport, Pennsylvania, the Youghiogheny River tailwater section converges with the Monongahela River. All along the river’s length, small creeks and mountain streams merge into the river.
Near Pittsburgh, Nine Mile Run exits into the lower Monongahela River.
Monongahela River Fish Species
The Mon is home to dozens of species of sport fish, sustained by a robust population of forage species. Much of angler effort is focused on key species; black bass (smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted), sunfish, walleye, sauger, white bass, hybrid striped bass, musky, tiger musky, and channel catfish. The Monongahela River is also known for several niche fisheries, including freshwater drum, carp, suckers, and others.
Parks, Trails, and Access Points
The Upper Monongahela River Water Trail includes 68 miles of the upper river from Fairmont, West Virginia to Maxwell Lock & Dam near Luzerne, Pennsylvania.
In Fairmont, Palatine Park includes fishing access, a boat launch, and other resources.
Downriver from Fairmont is Pricketts Fork State Park. The park marks the southern end of the Mon River South Rail Trail. The trail follows the river northward to Morgantown and on to Star City.
In Morgantown, Caperton Trail Park provides access to the Morgantown tailwater. A short distance downriver, a public fishing area is located near Morgantown Energy Associates.
Nearby, Hazel Ruby McQuain Park and Amphitheater hosts local festivals, weddings, and other events. Near Suncrest, WVU Core Arboretum contains spectacular displays of trees and shrubs.
At Van Voorhis Trailhead, a small park includes parking, a fishing pier, small boat launch area, and Mon River Trail access. Across the river is Fort Martin boat launch ramp.
Just above the West Virginia-Pennsylvania state line at Pool 8 is Port Marion ball park, boat launch ramp, and pier. A short distance downstream is Two Rivers Campground and Marina.
Below Point Marion, Friendship Hill National Historic Site occupies more than 600 acres along the eastern bank of the Monongahela.
At Rices Landing, the Greene River Trailhead provides parking and access to the Greene River Trail. At Millsboro, Greene Cove Yacht Club lies near the mouth of South Fork Ten Mile Creek.
Downstream is East Fredericktown boat ramp.
In California, Wyatt Park provides riverfront access with a launch area and pier.
In Monessen, a boat launch and fishing area is available for anglers and boaters.
In Monongahela, Gallatin Community Park includes riverfront properties and a boat ramp. A second ramp for launching boats is located on the opposite side of the river. Downriver, the Monongahela Aquatorium is a popular outdoor venue for festivals and other events.
Below Monongahela, Whetzel Preserve is comprised of three miles of steeply wooded, scenic hillsides along the Monongahela River. The 212-acre property, commonly known as “Mon Valley Slopes” or “Elkhorn Slopes” is owned by Allegheny Land Trust.
In Burnola, Carousel Marina maintains boats slips along the river.
At the confluence of the Youghiogheny River with the Monongahela, is the McKeesport Access boat ramp. Across the Youg is McKees Point Marina and McKees Point Trailhead.
At Homestead, is a public access area includes Homestead Labyrinth, Rivers of Steel: Pump House & Water Tower, site of the 1892 Battle of Homestead, and Great Allegheny Passage trail access. Across the river is the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark.
Just downstream is Duck Hollow Trail Access area with parking and access to Nine Mile Run. The Duck Hollow Trail leads downstream to the Gleenwood Bridge near West Homestead.
Across the river, below West Homestead, Great Allegheny Passage connects to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.
As the Monongahela nears Pittsburgh, the river becomes busy. Southside Marina is located on the final bend (mile 4) before the city. The City of Pittsburgh maintains a boat launching ramp in the first mile of the river.
Point State Park is located where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers come together to form the Ohio. Point State Park is the terminus of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.
Monongahela River Facts
In January, 1956, a TB-25N medium bomber ditched in the Monongahela River near Homestead, Pennsylvania, and was lost. According to reports, two of the six occupants did not survive the frigid waters of the river. Known locally as the “Monongahela River Ghost Bomber,” the plane wreckage has never been found.