Welcome to New River Gorge National River’s newest secret, Nuttallburg. A hundred years ago, towns like Nuttallburg, Fayette, Thayer, Elmo, Buery, were all bustling coal mining towns found every half a mile up and down the New River.
With over 50 coal mining towns throughout the New River Gorge, this area was rich in population and production. Nuttallburg was no exception. Once this railroad cut its way through the New River Gorge, towns began shipping smokeless coal out to industrial cities throughout the nation.
In the 1920’s Henry Ford leased the Nuttalburg mine to provide coal for his automobile business. His idea of vertical integration was to control all aspects of the automobile production process. But his goal failed here in the New River Gorge when he realized that he couldn’t control the prices that the railroad was charging him to ship coal out to his businesses in the northeast.
Today only the history remains of most of those coal mining towns found along the New River. The same was true for Nuttallburg. What little was left of the town was concealed beneath trees and vines. But in the last few years the town of Nuttallburg has undergone an extensive transformation. The foundations for the original buildings were excavated, like you see here around me. New trails were built to enable you to explore the site. Interpretive waysides were erected so you could learn about the history as you explore the town and of course the tipple, the head house and the conveyor were all stabilized to be preserved for future generations.
Today when you visit Nuttallburg you can get an authentic feel for what life was like in a coal mining town here a hundred years ago.
This effort has created one of the most intact examples of a coal mining community in West Virginia and the United States. But if I tell you any more, you won’t have anything to find for yourself. So come explore and enjoy Nuttallburg town site in New River Gorge National River.
The Sandstone Falls area of the New River Gorge national River encompasses the upper ten miles of the park. This area is a transition zone from a broad valley to a deep, narrow, boulder strewn, V-shaped gorge.
Most visitors will find the best starting point for their journey to Sandstone Falls at the Sandstone Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has excellent exhibits on the New River watershed, water resources, and natural and cultural history of the upper New River Gorge.
Your journey to view the falls will require some driving time. It will take you on route 20 south from the I-64 exit at the community of Sandstone. As you drive high above the river you will pass two park vistas. The sandstone falls overlook gives you an aerial view of the falls 600 feet above the river. The Brooks overlook looks down upon the mile long Brooks island, a perennial bald eagle nesting site.
Hinton is the southern gateway to the New River Gorge National River. A once booming railroad center, the town has a large historic district, railroad museum, antique shops, and restaurants.
After crossing the bridge at Hinton you will begin driving alongside the New River down river road. There are great riverside vistas, several river access points, and a trail, picnic area and small boardwalk at the river wide Brooks falls.
At the Sandstone Falls day use area you begin your walk along the board walk and bridges that span the two islands below the falls.
Start by crossing a short bridge that spans a man made channel that once diverted water for a water-powered grist mill used for grinding the local farmers corn and wheat.
The first island offers a view of the lower falls ,and one of the most unique botanical ecosystems in West Virginia, the Appalachian riverside flat rock community. This community is found in only five areas in the state and consists of several southern plan species that have migrated along the north flowing New River. These species have adapted to the thin rock strewn soil and occasional scouring floods on this elevated island below the falls.
The second bridge, a mini arch cor-ten steel structure, crosses a wide naturally formed channel bringing you onto a low lying island covered with a floodplain forest community and views of the main falls.
Sandstone falls is the largest waterfall along the 320 mile New River. The falls span the entire 1,500 foot width of the river and drop from 25 to 10 feet.
Sandstone falls was created by the powerful flow of the New river eroding the soft conglomerate rock layer that lies below the hard sandstone layer from which the falls gets its name. The falls are a dynamic geological environment, as slowly but surely through time, they are advancing upstream.
A journey to Sandstone Falls provides a rare riverside scenic drive, beautiful falls, and the dramatic interface of the New River in its transition from a wide mountain stream to a raging whitewater river gorge in its final descent through the Appalachian Mountains.
Welcome to Grandview, one of the many beautiful sites of the New River Gorge National River. Grandview is one of the most popular day use areas of the park with access to hiking trails, picnic shelters, and even a playground for the kids. This visitor center is open Memorial Day through Labor Day to answer any questions you may have. Many people still remember when this area was Grandview State Park, but it has been a part of the New River Gorge National River since 1990.
Here at the main overlook, you are 1400 feet above the river and you can see seven miles of the New River from this one spot alone! This stretch of the river, called Horseshoe Bend, is popular among fisherman and family rafting trips looking for a little adventure. You can also see the town of Quinnimont where coal was first shipped out of the gorge in 1873. And you can still watch trains travel the lines that were once laid for the historic C&O railroad.
On the cliffs of the gorge, and in some of the parking lots, you can see the beautiful Catawba rhododendron whose pink flowers bloom around May of each year. This southern species is at the northern end of its range and was carried here by the north flowing New River. You can also see the Great rhododendron whose white flowers bloom a little later in early July.
If you’re up for a hike, choose one of the many trails including the Grandview rim trail. It is 1.6 miles long and ends at the Turkey Spur Overlook, which provides a breathtaking view of a section of the river called Stretcher’s Neck. You can also drive to this overlook, but there are a few flights of stairs to the top. Also keep your eyes out along the way for peregrine falcons, which have been released in the area during a recent reintroduction program.
If you’re here at dusk, make a house call to the bat condo, home to thousands of big and little brown bats each summer. They make a spectacular exit about a half hour before sunset, so come and get your seat early!
With activities for children young and old, visiting Grandview is a great way to spend your day. So come explore and enjoy Grandview, in the New River Gorge National River.
Welcome to Thurmond, where river, recreation, and railroad help tell the story of this National Park.
This building is the Thurmond Depot. It’s served as a gateway for visitors here since 1904. Today, it helps with trail maps and town information. Back in the early 1900s though, it was all about time tables and railroad tickets.
The big difference is, if you were arriving here in 1904, you would have been coming by train. Not personal vehicle like today.
To put this place in proper perspective, consider this. In 1910, there were less than 200 miles of paved road across the country but over 200,000 miles of railroad tracks. This was your interstate system.
In 1910, this depot serviced over 70,000 passengers. Combined with freight revenue, it made over 4 million dollars for the Chesapeake and Ohio railway; making this one of the most profitable depots on the entire C & O line.
You can still catch a train in Thurmond. It’s part of Amtrak’s cardinal route. Now this is a flag stop, so you have to make arrangements with Amtrak ahead of time, but you can still get on or off the train in Thurmond.
Thurmond may seem like an isolated, lonely place today, but that hasn’t always been the case. Thurmond was a vibrant New River community. These buildings today stand as testament to the vitality of the town. Doctors, dentists, restaurants, stores and banks filled these structures.
Your experience here isn’t just limited to history. There are many opportunities for recreation and nature enjoyment. There are several miles of hiking trails and mountain biking trails nearby as well as easy river access.
Whether you want to relax by the river, recreate, or relive history, come enjoy and explore Thurmond in the New River Gorge National River.
Several short video clips featuring some of the unique natural and cultural history of New River Gorge National River.
The last peregrine falcon from the 2011 hack was released on December 2 at North Overlook at Grandview by Wendy and Ron Perrone from Three Rivers Avian Center. Pink over Purple, as this falcon is known, was originally released at the Grandview hack site on June 23, 2011. Her last visit to the feeding station was on July 14. She was found about 30 miles away in Monroe County, WV on July 26, too weak to fly and dangerously under weight. She was treated for a bad case of asprigillosis, a fungal infection of the lungs. After a successful recovery, she was ready to be released into the wild.
Here we are at Brooks Overlook looking down at the New River and the Upper Gorge. The bald eagles prefer this stretch of the river because the gorge is wider, the river is calmer, and there are better opportunities for catching a meal than in the more rugged Lower Gorge.
We’ll take a closer look at the northern tip of Brooks Island where we can see the eagles’ nest in the large, white sycamore tree near the end of the island.
When this video was shot, there were three bald eagle chicks on the nest. At this early stage of their life one parent will always remain on the nest with them. The second adult has just landed with some food. You can see their white heads moving around above the nest as they feed the young eaglets.
This is a juvenile male Allegheny Wood Rat. He has an ear tag; recaptured from the previous day. A fairly docile animal; if you don’t provoke them too much they won’t bite. You can see the ear tag in this ear right here; left ear; number one, number 649. A few flees. He’s like I said, a juvenile. We determine age class primarily by color and weight. However you can look at reproductive status as well and know whether it’s a juvenile. A very interesting animal. Fairly rare in the state and extinct in several portions of its range; New York and portions of Pennsylvania they’ve already lost populations; New Jersey; Indiana. A very unique animal. It differs from Norway rats by very long whiskers, long but blunt nose, hairy tail, and behavior. A Norway rat is a fairly aggressive animal – if it’s handled it will bite, whereas this animal is fairly docile, as I said before unless it’s greatly provoked it will not bite.
There is no narrative for this video. In the beginning the sound of water can be heard flowing down Glade Creek to the New River. Throughout the rest of the video there is only the occasional call of birds that interupt the silence.
There is no narration in this video. In the beginning of the video, water can be heard flowing down a small tributary stream that flows into the New River. Throughout the video birds are occasionally heard in the background and at one point the sound of a train rolling down the railroad tracks alongside the river can be heard.
Video Links: For a more in depth view of the park, check out these excellent videos produced by WV Public Broadcasting System.
Three Rivers: The Bluestone, Gauley, and New
A new 90-minute documentary from West Virginia Public Broadcasting explores the economic, environmental, cultural, historical and geographic impact of the largest federally protected system of rivers east of the Mississippi. Three Rivers: The Bluestone, Gauley and New examines the ongoing relationship between mankind and nature in this region.
Upheaval: The New River Gorge Story This two part series was produced by WV PBS and aired on Outlook in 2010.
"Upheaval: The Story of the New River Gorge" explores the history and controversy of a region formed over millions of years as the ancient New River -- now federally protected as a national river -- carved its way through the Appalachian Mountains, following a violent collision of continental plates. West Virginia Public Broadcast produced "Upheaval" in partnership with the National Park Service. The natural resources of the New River Gorge fueled the Industrial Revolution and spawned the legend of steel driver John Henry.
Click here to view a video about Wildflower Weekend 2009, produced by WV Public Broadcasting. This was originally broadcast on WV PBS Outlook in June 2009.
Did You Know?
Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular recreational activities at New River Gorge National River. The rapids range from Class III to Class V. There are a number of commercial outfitters that offer trips to the public.