digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















"Kanawha Valley" redirects here. For the urban agglomeration sometimes referred to as "the Kanawha Valley", see Charleston, West Virginia metropolitan area.
Kanawha River
Kanawha River.jpg
Kanawha River at St. Albans, West Virginia
Country United States
State West Virginia
Counties Fayette, Kanawha, Mason, Putnam
 - left Coal River
 - right Elk River, Pocatalico River
Source New River [1]
 - location Ashe County, NC
 - elevation 2,546 ft (776 m)
 - coordinates 36°32′45″N 81°21′09″W / 36.54583°N 81.35250°W / 36.54583; -81.35250
Secondary source Gauley River [2]
 - location Three Forks of Gauley, Pocahontas County, WV
 - elevation 2,917 ft (889 m)
 - coordinates 38°24′33″N 80°14′17″W / 38.40917°N 80.23806°W / 38.40917; -80.23806
Source confluence
 - location Gauley Bridge, WV
 - elevation 653 ft (199 m)
 - coordinates 38°09′42″N 81°11′47″W / 38.16167°N 81.19639°W / 38.16167; -81.19639
Mouth Ohio River [3]
 - location Point Pleasant, WV
 - elevation 538 ft (164 m)
 - coordinates 38°50′16″N 82°08′34″W / 38.83778°N 82.14278°W / 38.83778; -82.14278
Length 97 mi (156 km)
Basin 12,236 sq mi (31,691 km2)
Discharge for Charleston, 56.8 mi (91.4 km) from the mouth
 - average 15,240 cu ft/s (432 m3/s) [4][5]
 - max 216,000 cu ft/s (6,116 m3/s)
 - min 1,100 cu ft/s (31 m3/s)
Map of the Kanawha River and its tributary the New River, with the Kanawha River highlighted in darker blue.

The Kanawha River (/kəˈnɔː/ kə-NAW or /kəˈnɔːə/ kə-NAW) is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 97 mi (156 km) long, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. The largest inland waterway in West Virginia, it has formed a significant industrial region of the state since the middle of the 19th century.

It is formed at the town of Gauley Bridge in northwestern Fayette County, approximately 35 mi (56 km) SE of Charleston, by the confluence of the New and Gauley rivers. It flows generally northwest, in a winding course on the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau, through Fayette, Kanawha, Putnam, and Mason counties, past the cities of Charleston and St. Albans, and numerous smaller communities. It joins the Ohio at Point Pleasant.

Paleo-Indians, the earliest indigenous peoples, lived in the valley and the heights by 10,000 BC as evidenced by archaeological artifacts such as Clovis points. A succession of prehistoric cultures developed, with the Adena culture beginning the construction of numerous skilled earthwork mounds and enclosures more than 2000 years ago. Some of the villages of the Fort Ancient culture survived into the times of European contact.

The area was a place of competition among historical American Indian nations. Invading from their base in present-day New York, the Iroquois drove out or conquered Fort Ancient culture peoples, as well as such tribes as the Huron and Conoy. By right of conquest, the Iroquois, Lenape (Delaware), and Shawnee reserved the area as a hunting ground. They resisted European-American settlement during the colonial years.

The river valley contains significant deposits of coal and natural gas. In colonial times, the wildly fluctuating level of the river prevented its use for transportation. The removal of boulders and snags on the lower river in the 1840s allowed navigation, which was extended upriver after the construction of locks and dams starting in 1875. The river is now navigable to Deepwater, an unincorporated community about 20 miles (32 km) upriver from Charleston. A thriving chemical industry along its banks provides a significant part of the local economy.


In addition to the New and Gauley River, the Kanawha is joined at Charleston by the Elk River, at St. Albans by the Coal River, and at Poca by the Pocatalico River.

List of cities and towns along the Kanawha River[edit]

The confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers at Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Variant names[edit]

Winfield Lock and Dam on the Kanawha River at Winfield, West Virginia, 31 miles upriver from the mouth at Point Pleasant. Map:[6]

According to the Geographic Names Information System, the Kanawha River has also been known as:

  • Big Connawas River
  • Big Kanawha River
  • Canawha
  • Canhawa River
  • Chinidashhichetha
  • Chinodahichetha River
  • Chinodashichetha
  • Chinondaista
  • Great Canawha River
  • Great Kanawha River
  • Great Kanhawa River
  • Great Kanhaway River
  • Great Kehhawa River
  • Great Kenhawa River
  • Great Kenhaway River
  • Great Konhaway River
  • Great Konhawayriver
  • Kanahaway River
  • Kanawa River
  • Kanawah River
  • Kanaway River
  • Kanawhy River
  • Kanhaway River
  • Kannawha River
  • Keanawha River
  • Kenhaway River
  • Keninsheka
  • Kinhaway River
  • Kunhaway River
  • Le-we-ke-o-mi
  • Mon-don-ga-cha-te
  • New River
  • Pi-que-me-ta-mi
  • Pique-me-ta-nei
  • Woods River

"Ka(ih)nawha" derives from the region's Iroquoian dialects meaning "water way" or "canoe way" implying the metaphor, "transport way", in the local language.[7] The Glottal consonant of the "ih" (stream or river, local Iroquois) dropped out as settlers and homesteaders arrive.[8]


Archaeological artifacts, such as Clovis points and later projectiles, indicate prehistoric indigenous peoples living in the area from as early as 12,500 BC Peoples of later cultures continued to live along the valley and heights. Those of the Adena culture built at least 50 earthwork mounds and 10 enclosures in the area between Charleston and Dunbar, as identified by an 1882 to 1884 survey by the Bureau of Ethnology (later part of the Smithsonian Institution). Three of their mounds survive in the valley, including Criel Mound at present-day South Charleston, West Virginia. Evidence has been found of the Fort Ancient culture peoples, who had villages that survived to the time of European contact, such as Buffalo and Marmet. They were driven out by Iroquois from present-day New York.[9]

According to French missionary reports, by the late 16th century, several thousand Huron, originally of the Great Lakes region, lived in central West Virginia. They were driven out in the 17th century by the Iroquois' invading from western present-day New York. Other accounts note that the tribe known as Conois, Conoy, Canawesee, or Kanawha were conquered or driven out by the large Seneca tribe, one of the Iroquois Confederacy, as the Seneca boasted to Virginia colonial officials in 1744. The Iroquois and other tribes, such as the Shawnee and Delaware, maintained central West Virginia as a hunting ground. It was essentially unpopulated when the English and Europeans began to move into the area.[10]

In April 1774, Captain Hanson was one of an expedition: "18th. We surveyed 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of Land for Col. Washington, bordered by Coal River & the Canawagh..." [11] This area is the lower area of today's St. Albans, West Virginia. After the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, "The Kanawhas had gone from the upper tributaries of the river which bears their name, to join their kinsmen, the Iroquois in New York; the Shawnee had abandoned the Indian Old Fields of the valley of the South Branch of the Potomac; the Delaware were gone from the Monongahela; the Cherokee who claimed all the region between the Great Kanawha and Big Sandy, had never occupied it." quoting Virgil A. Lewis (1887), Corresponding member of the Virginia Historical Society.[12] Virgil's grandfather was a western Virginia surveyor, Andrew Lewis (soldier), who surveyed the Kanawha's tributaries in the middle 18th century. The river's name changes to the Kanawha River at the Kanawha Falls. The Treaty of Big Tree between the Seneca nation and the United States established ten reservations. This formal treaty was signed on September 15, 1797.[13] Lewis was granted a large tract of land near the mouth of the Great Kanawha River in the late 18th century.

The Little Kanawha and the Great Kanawha rivers, the two largest in the state, were named for the American Indian tribe that lived in the area prior to European settlement in the 18th century. Under pressure from the Iroquois, most of the Conoy/Kanawha had migrated to present-day Virginia by 1634, where they had settled on the west side of the Chesapeake Bay and below the Potomac River. They were also known to the colonists there as the Piscataway. They later migrated north to Pennsylvania, to submit and seek protection with the Susquehannock and Iroquois. The spelling of the Indian tribe varied at the time, from Conoys to Conois to Kanawha. The latter spelling was used and has gained acceptance over time.[10]

Kanawha Falls on the Kanawha River at Glen Ferris, West Virginia.


  • Interstate 64 crosses the Kanawha four times on major bridges in the Charleston vicinity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: New River
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Gauley River
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Kanawha River
  4. ^ accessed 2011-06-16
  5. ^ United States Geological Survey; USGS 03193000 KANAWHA RIVER AT KANAWHA FALLS, WV; retrieved April 19, 2008.
  6. ^ layer= - Google Maps. Maps.google.com (1970-01-01). Retrieved on 2013-08-09.
  7. ^ Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language, Kawhinawha'kae montreal, "Kentá:ke had been a Jesuit residence that receive Mohawk from the south, the newly established settlement of Kahnawà:ke was from its beginning an Iroquois community." for more information on the Kanien’kehá:ka www.kahnawakelonghouse.com/index.php?mid=2
  8. ^ Kahnawáʼkye in Tuscarora (Iroquois) means "waterway", "kye" is augmentive suffix.
    Kaniatarowanenneh means "big waterway" in Mohawk (Iroquois).
    Lachler, McElwain, and Burke http://www.mingolanguage.org/
    Mingo (Iroquois) etymology about boating: kaháwa' noun means boat. kényua'. This switch-interactive verb means to row a boat or more to ferry someone across a stretch of water. It belongs to the semantic fields the sea and transportation. Etymology kényua' -NYU- Verb Root. Grammatical Info Base -nyu-.Stem Class LX. Conjugation Class XX. kényua' "I row boats". kaháwa', (boat) grammatical info base -haw- Stem Class C, Prefix Class Agent, Linker Vowel ö. Note that the -h- at the beginning of this base is strong, and so does not drop out when it would come between two vowels. Varies with kahôwö'. Possessed Form akháwa' my boat. Plural Form kahawa'shö'ö boats. káhu' means "this way" or in this direction. See also Mohawk language (Dialects)
  9. ^ Dr. Robert F. Maslowski, "The Kanawha Valley and its Prehistoric People", 2002, Council on West Virginia Archaeology, accessed 31 Oct 2009
  10. ^ a b Dilger, Robert J.; Marshall, James (21 Feb 2002). "Kanawha County History". Institute for Public Affairs, West Virginia University. Retrieved 31 Oct 2009. 
  11. ^ From Documentary History of Dunmore's War, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg, Madison, Wisconsin Historical Society, 1905 pp. 110-17. For text of the Journal see www.wvculture.org/HISTORY/dunmore/hanson.html
  12. ^ History of West Virginia In Two Parts, Philadelphia. Hubbard Brothers, Publishers. 1889.
    West Virginia State Historian/Archivist, Virgil A. Lewis, 1905 - 1912 (died while in the position) from Mason County – see WV Bluebook reference MC descriptions 1916–1920. (11/1/09)
  13. ^ “A History of the Treaty of Big Tree, and Robert Morris” by Livingston County Historical Society, O. Burnell Print, 1897

Further reading[edit]

  • Arthur Benke & Colbert Cushing, Rivers of North America, Elsevier Academic Press, 2005 ISBN 0-12-088253-1
  • Atkinson, George W. 1876. History of Kanawha County, From. . . 1789 Until the Present Time, Charleston: West Virginia Journal Office.
  • Braley, Dean (1993). The Shaman's Story, West Virginia Petroglyphs. St. Albans. ISBN 0-9638377-0-2. 
  • Dayton, Ruth Woods. 1947. Pioneers and Their Homes on Upper Kanawha, Charleston: West Virginia Publishing Company.
  • Dickens, Roy S., Jr.; Mckinley, James L. (1979). Frontiers in the Soil: The Archaeology of Georgia. LaGrange, Georgia: Frontiers Publishing Company. 
  • Laidley, W. S. 1911. History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia, Chicago: Richmond-Arnold Publishing Company
  • Lewis, Thomas M. N. and Madeline Kneberg. 1958. Tribes That Slumber, Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press
  • McMichael, Edward V. 1968. Introduction to West Virginia Archeology, Morgantown, WVA: West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey
  • Nabokov, Peter; Easton, Robert (1989). Native American Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-503781-2. 
  • Potter, Eloise F.; Funderburg, John B. (1986). Native Americans: The People and How They Lived. Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. ISBN 0-917134-10-9. 
  • Rhodes, Captain Rick, The Ohio River in American History and Voyaging on Today's River. Heron Island Guides, 2007, ISBN 978-0-9665866-3-3
  • Thomas, Cyrus. 1894. Report on the Mound Explorations of the Bureau of Ethnology. Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Wavra, Grace (1990). The First Families of West Virginia. Huntington: University Editions, Inc. ISBN 1-56002-007-5. 
  • Weatherford, Jack M. (1988). Indian Givers. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-449-90496-2. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanawha_River — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
15204 videos foundNext > 

Kanawha River Flathead Catfish Trip

http://monsterrodholders.com/ Fishing for Flathead catfish on the Kanawha river in West Virginia.

Charleston Beautiful On the Kanawha River

A movie financed by a local movie theatre owner to document Charleston, West Virginia, in August 1932.

LST 325 on the Kanawha River

LST 325, a floating WW II museum, makes it's way up the Kanawha River to Charleston, WV. Images captured with a Flyzone Tidewater RC model sea plane.

Crisis on the Kanawha - 50 Years Later

It wasn't that many years ago that the Kanawha River was essentially dead -- unable to sustain any aquatic life -- but the Kanawha is a river in recovery. Th...

X350 Pro Along Kanawha River

Flight along Kanawha River, Charleston WV Walkera QR X350Pro, GoPro 3 With G-2D Gimbal.



Towboats on the frozen Kanawha River

MV Dr. Edwin H. Welch going downstream and MV Capt. Ed Harris going up through the iced over Kanawha River at about 7:30 AM on January 28, 2014. The high pit...

Kanawha River boat ride

Nothing particularly interesting; just going for a boat ride on the Kanawha River from Montgomery thru Smithers, Boomer, past Elem to Alloy, then back down r...

How-To Fish For Catfish In The Kanawha River

Kanawha River Valley - Charleston, WV

Sleepy Eyes Nelson visits the KRV.

15204 videos foundNext > 

942 news items

The News Center

HNN Huntingtonnews.net
Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:45:00 -0800

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Resources Section has confirmed that environmental DNA (eDNA) from the invasive Asian carp was found in water samples taken from the Ohio River and ...
Charleston Daily Mail
Wed, 03 Dec 2014 14:30:00 -0800

Environmental DNA from the invasive Asian carp has been found in the Kanawha River, state Division of Natural Resources officials said Wednesday. Though the environmental DNA, or eDNA, could mean the fish have made their way to the Kanawha River, ...
Charleston Gazette
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:29:22 -0800

Some clean-water advocates and DEP officials have cautioned that the Kanawha River proposal would fuel a longstanding campaign by industry groups to get rid of the policy of applying Category A to all streams statewide. During a public comment period ...
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:49:44 -0800

Police said a man walked into CAMC Women and Children's Hospital with a stab wound about 3 p.m. Friday. The injuries are described as minor. The victim told officers he was stabbed on the west side of the Kanawha River by the Quarrier Street Bridge.
West Virginia MetroNews
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 06:20:46 -0800

Positive results were found for bighead and silver carp DNA from the New Cumberland Navigational Pool, as well as for bighead carp DNA from the Winfield Pool of the Kanawha River. All samples were found to be negative for both bighead and silver carp ...

Charleston Daily Mail

Charleston Daily Mail
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:52:30 -0800

Sawyer jumped into the Kanawha River but was soon apprehended. Police arrested Collins the next day. Collins and Sawyer were charged with malicious wounding, attempted murder and wanton endangerment. They are awaiting trial. Beasley, meanwhile ...
Charleston Daily Mail
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:13:20 -0700

In about eight months, a 61-year chapter of eastern Kanawha County history will end when the turbines at Appalachian Power's Kanawha River Plant spin for the last time. “There's a lot of emotion with employees . . . knowing the end is coming,” plant ...
Charleston Gazette
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 21:03:45 -0800

MARTA TANKERSLEY HAYS | Gazette Characters from the Christmas television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” are flanked by Christmas dolphins on Frank Campbell's pontoon boat, which will cruise up the Kanawha River to the capitol in ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight