The West Virginia. Cyclopedia
President Williams McKinley's profile was accidentally created on a rock cliff of the New River Gorge during construction of a railroad on Sept. 14, 1901 -- the day of the president's assassination. Access to the cliff, near Thurmond, WV, in Fayette County, is provided by the Thurmond-Minden Trail in the New River Gorge National River.
An account of McKinley Rock from the History of Fayette County, printed in 1926, follows:
"On September 8th, 1901, while a construction crew was shooting down the high cliff just across the river from Thurmond Depot, in the building of the standard gauge railroad to Minden, they put off a heavy shot which tore off hundreds of tons of sone from the cliff leaving it as seen in the picture. One of the men looking up at the cliff discovered McKinley's face perfectly formed on the cliff. He called it to the attention of the fellow workmen, all of whom declared it to be almost a perfect image of President McKinley. Some is said to have remarked at the time that it was a token that something had, or would happen to the president in the near future. That evening they heard Mr. McKinley had been assassinated. He died a week later. It was been twenty-five years since the above happened but the image of William McKinley's face still remains and is observed by hundreds of people every year."