During hot summer days like those we’ve been having recently – when the temperature reaches into the 90s and even above – the Chemung River can look like a pretty inviting place to take a swim.

You can see it from so many spots in the Twin Tiers area. It starts in Painted Post, where Trails.com says the Iroquois Indians held the river sacred and marked its beginning – the convergence of the Tioga and Cohocton rivers – with an actual “painted post.”

The Chemung idles through Corning, and passes right through downtown Elmira, practically splitting the city in half. Then it’s on toward the PA border,  past Wilawana, Waverly, Athens and Sayre. South of Athens and Sayre, the Chemung melds into the Susquehanna River, which travels on to Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic.

The Chemung River is an integral part of the scenery and life of Twin Tiers residents. You can see it from so many of our cities and villages, and its length is peppered with boat launch sites and access points.  The Chemung Basin River Trail Partnership is one of the organizations devoted to keeping residents aware of the river and its beauty.

Unfortunately, recent regional accidents point out that everyone must also be aware of the safety concerns of swimming in the river. In a tragic accident on Tuesday, a 16-year-old girl drowned in the Susquehanna River, pulled under by a strong current. (The story, “Girl Drowns in Susquehanna River,” was covered by the Star-Gazette). The Star-Gazette also reported on the river drowning  death of a 74-year-old man in Northern New York on Monday.

These tragedies illuminate the dangers fire and police authorities hope the public is aware of. WETM-TV covered the story, “Dangers of Swimming in the Chemung River”, pasted below, which included several warnings from the Elmira Fire Chief, Patrick Bermingham. He cautioned that:

  • River currents can be deceptively slow on the surface – and stronger beneath.
  • Hidden debris can hurt or snag swimmers from the river bottom.
  • Town pools offer lifeguards and better supervision for children.

In Corning, a safe “cooling center” has been opened by the American Red Cross. Anyone can stop in the center to take advantage of the lower temperatures inside and get re-hydrated with provided water. WETM also reported on this development, in the story “Cooling Center Open in Corning” It’s the first time such a center has opened in Steuben County – proof positive that we are having one hot summer.

The Chemung River is beautiful – look at it, fish it, take your boat or canoe out on it. But if you choose to swim in it,  be extra careful.

Thanks for reading.


ZiffLaw Attorney, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Accident Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: info@zifflaw.com

“Dangers of Swimming in the Chemung River”

(WETM Nick Natario,  7/06)

ELMIRA – With the temperature surging into the 90’s this week, neighbors are searching for ways to stay cool.

Some of them are turning to the Chemung River.

That’s something the Elmira fire chief urges you not to do.

A number of people were swimming in the water Tuesday at the Grove Street Boat Launch in Elmira.

Elmira Fire Chief Patrick Bermingham says while the current looks slow on top, it’s much stronger underneath.

He says that debris can also be floating down the river which can tangle you.

But neighbors who decide to swim here anyways say they take extra precautions.

“Swim with partners, always be around people and don’t go out too far,” said Samantha Ray.

“We swim with a partner and always make sure there’s somebody with us,” said Valerie Bellows.

“I believe that parents, if they are in there need to be on guard, if you will for the kids who can get into trouble in an instant,” said Bermingham.

Bermingham says there are plenty of other safe alternatives to swim at: such as a local school or county pool instead of the river.

NY Injury Lawyer warns of danger of swimming in Chemung River – work in a few location names like Corning, Elmira, where else is there access to the river?  Painted post?  Waverly?