The West Virginia. Cyclopedia
Birch River descends west from the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains to the Elk River in central West Virginia, wearing a narrow and boulder-strewn valley through parts of Clay County, Braxton County, Webster County, and Nicholas County. Its drainage descends from 2,792 feet above sea level near Cowen, WV, to 1,120 feet at its mouth on the Elk River near Glendon, WV.
The upper two-thirds of the stream fall through tight forest valleys hemmed between high mountain walls, such as that of Powell Mountain. The lower third winds through a hilly woodland of ridges and wandering bends. Little Birch River is its largest tributary.
House-sized boulders and quiet pools lure many anglers and swimmers to the river in the warm months. The U.S. 19 expressway courses across the river at Birch Village, WV. No large towns are found in the river's drainage, much of which is forested, though tablelands along the lower river are farmed. Timbering was a profitable industry in the area in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the river was used to float timber downstream to Elk River. Powell Mountain is one the chief mountains in the Birch River area.