Carolyn F. Stephenson
A restful state park can be found in the northeastern section of West Virginia, known for its dark colored water that flows over age old rocks in a gorge that is ageless. The dark colored water is quite natural as explained by Freeman Tilden in his book,
, “The Canaan Valley must have been for long ages covered with the densest growth of hemlock and spruce. Gradually a deep humus accumulated, the peaty rankness of which was impregnated with tannic acid. This causes a “blackness” similar to that of a Florida cypress swamp when you look down into its water; though here, as there, if you see a small quantity in a glass it looks more like tea”.
The Blackwater River flows swiftly then drops through the gorge 136 feet to the mile. Two miles of the canyon lie within the park. The park is divided into the north section, which has a lake area, picnic, and playgrounds and the southern area which contains a lodge and furnished cabin section.
This park area was once a great wilderness until about 1865, when Solomon Cosner found a place to clear and build a small farm, The railroad came in 1885 and the forests were cut and finally depleted in the l930’s and 1940’s. Forestfires took over where the railroads, lumbering, and strip mining left off. Luckily the CCC replanted the spruce and the Monongahela National Forest bordered the area to act as a buffer and supporter. The trees one sees now are a combination of replantings, virgin growth that was too hard for lumbermen to get to, and some 1925 growth.
Blackwater Falls, an area of beauty that was almost laid bare, has been saved and restored to an enjoyable recreation area of beauty with its dark “tea” colored waters tumbling through the gorge that man has not and will not destroy.
(figure available in print form)