Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Mononga-how-la? (for the Week of May 4, 2008)

May 4, 2008

Q. Dear Twig: "Monangaheely"? I don't get that either.

A. You shouldn't. (1) I spelled it wrong. I should have spelled it "Monongaheely." (2) I made it up. Gih! But the root of the word is real.

Monongahela ("muh-NONG-guh-HEE-luh").

Like Cuyahoga last week, like Susquehanna the week before, Monongahela stands as the name of a big eastern U.S. river. In this case, a river that gets even bigger in Pittsburgh. There it joins the Allegheny. Together they form the Ohio.

Also like the first two names, it comes from a Native American word. "Monongahela," the U.S. Department of Agriculture says, means "high banks or bluffs, breaking off and falling down in places."

And also like the first two, too, it lends itself to nearby names, including of a tribe, a soil type, a city, a national forest, and a small-but-key battle in the French and Indian War.

Enough with the names! A haiku to end it!

Monongahela!

HEE-la! HEE-la! Look! That duck

is waterskiing!

Now that's some good haikuin',

Twig

P.S. The Monongahela flows north. Few of the world's big navigable rivers do that. HEE-la!

Notes:

"Navigable" means big boats can travel on it. Ducks, too. The Monongahela carries lots of barges. Often they're full of coal.

The Battle of Monongahela, 1755, is also called Braddock's Defeat, so named for British Major General Edward Braddock, who died in the fight. His 1,500 British and American troops were trounced (more than 800, unfortunately, were killed or wounded) by 900 French and Indian fighters — despite the heroics of a 23-year-old American colonel named George Washington, whose actions earned him the nickname "G-Wash." Kidding. They earned him the nickname "Hero of the Monongahela." ("What is this, history class? Zzz ...." — Twig's brother Log.)

About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences — specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College — is a weekly feature for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at, to and for a 4th-grade reading level.

For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, knebusch.1@osu.edu, (330) 263-3776.

Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.

Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch