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The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


Category:Geographic Features: Rivers and Streams

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West Virginia rivers are as variously formed as the hills, ridges, mountains, and valleys through which they descend. Many are protected by state and federal agencies and are open for public recreation. The gorges of the New River, Cheat River, and Gauley River provide for some of the world's best kayaking and whitewater-rafting. The Ohio River, bordering West Virginia on its lowland west, is protected as part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge and is one of the most important waterways in the U.S.

River Tourism

River-based recreation draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to West Virginia annually. Its whitewater rivers are among its most popular draws. To prevent flooding, many secondary rivers in West Virginia have been dammed into large lakes that draw anglers and boaters. The Ohio River, Kanawha River, Little Kanawha River, and several lesser streams are maritime, and motor-boating is a popular past-time and means of local transportation. Most West Virginia Rivers are popular fishing streams.

River Transportation

Settlers in western Virginia first improved river transportation in 1785 when the Potomac River was cleared of rocks at Harpers Ferry, WV. Transport to Pittsburgh, PA, through the rivers of northern West Virginia commenced in 1793 when the Virginia Legislature passed an act to clean and extend the Monongahela River and its most significant tributary, the West Fork River. Timbering was among the earliest vocations among the European pioneers who settled along the state's navigable or "raftable" streams. According to the WV Geological Survey (1917), floating logs down rivers and creeks to the Ohio Valley was practiced early on, and floating single logs or log rafts was practical even from five or six miles below the sources of many smaller mountain streams.