The West Virginia. Cyclopedia
The Canaan Valley, in Tucker County, is an oval-shaped valley drained by the headwaters of the Blackwater River. Two skiing areas are located in the mountains surrounding the valley -- Canaan Valley and Timberline Resort. The valley is located approximately 10 miles SE of Davis, WV and 40 miles NE of Elkins, WV. The Canaan Valley is the highest upland valley in the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia. Much of the valley is federally protected: the Monongahela National Forest and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge together manage thousands of acres of wilderness.
As late as 1840 there were very few settlers except along the river and in the narrow bottoms of the larger creeks. The region called "Canada" and the land of Canaan -- a high basin surrounded by mountains, the Backbone on the west and the Allegheny on the east -- was an uninhabited wilderness.
From the head of Black Fork to Fairfax stone was an unbroken forest of trees which stood so thick that their branches interlocked for miles completely shutting out the sunlight from the soil below. Bears and panthers traveled through the tunnels which they had broken through the thickets in all directions. Although the wilderness of the mountains was largely unbroken, occasionally among the hills appeared the cabin of a settler who was opening a farm.
In 1836 settlement was begun about the headwaters of Clover Run. The first cabin was without door, floor or chimney but it attracted other settlers who obtained lands and by 1840 the neighborhood consisted of five families (including about thirty children) who had begun the earnest work of breaking up the thick forests and its den of pathers and bears, and had also built a round-poled, floorless school house in which their children might be able some rudiments of an education. Canaan Valley and the surrounding pleateau country remained practically undistrurbed until the forest fire of 1865 which was soon followed by other "burnings" started by hunters.