The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Greenbrier River

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Riffle on the lower Greenbrier River near Ronceverte, WV
Home along the Greenbrier at Alderson, WV
Swimmers wade the river near Alderson, WV

The drainage basin of the Greenbrier River lies in the eastern part of the main body of West Virginia, being separated from the drainage of the Atlantic on the east by the Allegheny Mountains, along whose crests is located the West Virginia-Virginia state line, and from the Cheat River drainage on the west and north by Shavers Mountain and short lateral ranges. The area of the drainage basin is about 1,580 square miles. The basin is remarkable on account of being long and of nearly uniform width from the sources to the mouth. There is no coal found in the river's basin, although the New River-Pocahontas formation occurs in the adjacent basin on the west.

Greenbrier River

The Greenbrier River rises in the northern end of Pocahontas County and flows in a southwesterly across Pocahontas Greenbrier and Summers county to join the New River just above Hinton, WV. The river is the longest free-flowing stream in West Virginia: no part of the river or its branches is dammed or weired.


Topo Map (Mouth) : Topo Map (Source)


The principal tributaries of the Greenbrier are North Fork, Knapp, Anthony, Howard, Second, and Muddy creeks.


The Greenbrier River and roads that follow its course, including the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, have given rise to many communities. From its sources, these include Marlinton in Pocahontas County, Ronceverte and Alderson in Greenbrier County, and Pence Springs and Talcott in Summers County.

Name Origin

The origin of the name, Greenbrier River, is said to be from the name, Riviere de la Ronceverte, given the river by early French explorers. "Ronce Verte", which literally means "brier green," possibly referring to (green) briers found growing along the river.

Some sources claim the Greenbrier River was called by the "We-ot-o-we," by a Native American tribe, the Miamas, and "We-ot-o-we," and as "O-ne-pa-ke" by the Delawares tribe.

Variant Names

Green Briar River, Green Brier River, Green Bryar River, Greenbriar River, O-ne-pa-ke, O-ne-pa-ke-cepe, Onepake, Riviere de la Ronceverte, We-o-to-we, We-o-to-we-cepe-we, Weotowe