Mohawk, river, c.140 mi (230 km) long, rising in central New York and flowing S then SE past Utica and Schenectady to enter the Hudson River at Cohoes. The Mohawk is canalized from Rome to its mouth (completed 1918) as part of the New York State Canal System's rebuilt Erie Canal, which links the Hudson River with the Great Lakes; it is mainly used by leisure craft. Rapids and small waterfalls are found at Little Falls and Oriskany, near Cohoes, and on many tributaries. Pollution from industries and municipal raw sewage was the focus of cleanup efforts under the Clean Waters Program of 1965.
The beautiful and fertile Mohawk valley, named for its Native American inhabitants, was the scene of many battles and raids in the French and Indian Wars and in the American Revolution. The valley served as the sole route (see Mohawk Trail) for westward-bound pioneers to cross the Appalachian Mts. The Erie Canal, N.Y. Central RR, and N.Y. State Thruway were built along the river's course.