The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Bluestone River

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The Bluestone beneath I-77 bridge near Ead's Mill, WV
The Lilly Bridge spans the Bluestone at its mouth

The 77-mile-long Bluestone River rises along the northern flank of East River Mountain 2.5 miles southwest of Springville, in Tazewell County, Virginia (VA), and flows northeastward 83 miles through Mercer and Summers counties in West Virginia to join the New River. Eleven miles of its lower course is protected by the National Park Service as the Bluestone National Scenic River. Parts of Bluestone State Park and Pipestem Resort State Park are also located in the scenic lower section of the river. The Bluestone River is a popular warm-water fishery and canoeing is possible through mid-summer when water levels drop to a point where shoals are exposed across the stream. Kayaking is popular on the Bluestone in spring and during floods.

Upper Bluestone River

Through much of its upper course, the Bluestone River is entrenched in a narrow, winding gorge along which many coal mines operated in the early 1900s. Remnants of mining communities, mostly in ruin, stand along the narrow margin between river bank and mountainside. A notable exception, Bramwell, WV, is the site of more than a dozen mansions, former homes of the successful developers of the surrounding Flat Top - Pocahontas Coal Field, protected within the Bramwell Historic District.

Middle Bluestone River

Midway along its course, the Bluestone River flows through a floodplain of fertile fields hemmed by low, steep-walled hills. Ancient villages were located in the valley here in the period 1000 to 1675 A.D. As a result of its fertility, the valley, locally known as "Clover Bottom," was settled as early as 1775 by Mitchell Clay, who lost two children to Shawnee warriors shortly after settling. Clay later fought against the Indians in the Battle of Point Pleasant. Boat and bank fishing are popular along the river here where U.S. Route 19 and W.Va. Route 10 provide easy access to its banks.

Lower Bluestone River

The lower Bluestone River is that portion protected for its great natural beauty as the Bluestone National Scenic River, a unit of the national park system. Downstream of "Clover Bottom," the river enters this narrow gorge, which is characterized by its colorful cliffs of red, brown, blue, purple, and green. Waterfalls are common among the many small streams which decend the steep walls of the gorge to join the river. Brush Creek Falls on Brush Creek, a tributary of the Bluestone, is among the best known. Within the gorge, the river is joined by the Little Bluestone River, its largest major tributary, though less than 10 miles long. The Little Bluestone rises at the junction of the Jumping and White Oak branches near Jumping Branch, WV, on W.Va. Route 3. The river empties into the New River at Bluestone Lake in Bluestone State Park. Near its upstream reach, the gorge is traversed by Interstate 77 (I-77). Scenic overlooks accessible to interstate travelers are located at rest areas at either end of the bridge.


The most important tributaries of the Bluestone River, from its source, are Simmons Creek, Flipping Creek, Crane Creek, Widemouth Creek, Rich Creek, Wolf Creek, Camp Creek, Laurel Creek, and Little Bluestone River.