National Wildlife Refuge
|6263 Appalachian Highway
Davis, WV 26260
Phone Number: 304-866-3858
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Continued . . . In 1746, Thomas Lewis among others (one was Peter Jefferson, father of Thomas Jefferson) were completing a survey of Lord Fairfax's estate. On their way to mark the the Potomac River's source, they descended Cabin Mountain and entered a "Swamp." Lewis' journal is the first written account of Canaan Valley.
Lewis wrote that the valley was dismal enough "to strike terror in any human creature." A hundred years later Philip Pendeton Kennedy referred to Canaan Valley as a "perfect wilderness."
Surrounded by the state's logging boom fervor, the cutting of Canaan's forests was inevitable. In 1885, the first stock of cherry logs was skidded to the Blackwater River and floated to Davis. Before it was over, logs were carried to the mills in Davis on 30 miles of logging railroads that cut through the valley. A logging company man once said, "We didn't leave a stick standing."
After the devastation, cattle grazed in the valley and then farmers worked tons of fertilizer into the soil. Cauliflower became big business in the 1940s and early 50s.
In 1974, following an evaluation of Canaan Valley the U.S. Department of Interior, a report stated , "...the total valley is a thing to be experienced...it ranks with Yosemite and Yellowstone Valleys, though not, of course, quite their size. In the east, however, there are very few acts of it's grandeur and magnificence." Parts of the valley were designated a National Natural Landmark due, partially, to the plants and animals typically found much farther north and the valley's 6,700 acres of fragile wetlands.
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