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The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


South Branch Potomac River

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Head: source near Hightown, Highland County, VA.
Mouth: junction with North Branch Potomac River to form the Potomac River near Green Spring, Hampshire County.


The South Branch of the Potomac River rises in Highland County, Virginia, and flows northeastward across the eastern panhandle of West Virginia to its junction with the North Branch, a distance of more than 200 miles. Its principal tributaries are its North Fork and South Fork.

The valley of the South Branch is known for its pastoral scenery. Its upper valley, near Moorefield, WV, opens into one of the largest areas of level land in West Virginia and is part of one of the most productive agricultural areas in the Mountain State. The valley's skylines are dominated by the long parallel ridges of South Branch Mountain, to the east, and Patterson Creek Mountain, to the west, both of which rise to more than 2,000 feet above the floor of the valley.

Downstream of this large level area, the South Branch runs between two long narrow ridges -- through what is popularly known as The Trough. The Potomac Eagle, an excursion train, follows the South Branch between Romney, WV, and Petersburg, WV.

The South Branch is also a popular canoing stream, with several Class I-II rapids, and is an excellent warm-water fishery that plays host to eel, carp, channel catfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, and brook, brown, rainbow, and golden trout.

Topo Map (Mouth)


Some sources claim "the Indians" (unidentified tribe) referred to the South Branch of the Potomac as the "Wappatomaka."


Variant Names

South Branch of Potowmac River, South Branch of the Potowmack River, South Fork Potomac River, Wapacomo River, Wapocomo River, Wappacoma River, Wappatomaka River, Wappatomica