Kanawha River

April 8, 1951: C-47 Transport Plane Crashes Near Kanawha Airport

18 hours ago
Pictured is a U.S. Air Force Douglas C-47 Skytrain of the 167th Fighter Squadron, West Virginia Air National Guard. The 167th flew the C-47 from 1947 to 1958.
USAF

On April 8, 1951, a C-47 transport plane crashed near Charleston’s Kanawha Airport, which is now Yeager Airport, killing 21 members of the Air National Guard. They were on their way to Charleston for the funeral of fellow Guardsmen Major Woodford Sutherland. Sutherland had been killed in a freak training accident in Florida in which his parked P-51D Mustang was hit by another plane.

Legends and legacies meet where the Great Kanawha and the mighty Ohio rivers merge, on the land where history & agriculture combine in one of the nations oldest and most storied farming regions.

Narrated by Chris Sarandon, The Legacy Of The Land: The Story of the Kanawha Gateway explores the history and agriculture of the Kanawha Gateway region.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Michael Keller

On March 16, 1742, John Peter Salling and four others started out from Natural Bridge, Virginia, on a trip to explore the Mississippi River. Their goal was to strengthen England’s claims to western lands.

Salling kept a journal of the trip, including his trek through what is now southern West Virginia. When they reached the New River, they built a boat and covered it with buffalo hides.

March 5, 1880: James River and Kanawha Canal Co. Ceases Operation

Mar 5, 2020

On March 5, 1880, the James River and Kanawha Canal Company ceased operations. 

The original company had been formed by Virginia in 1785, at the urging of George Washington, who’d traveled through the Ohio and Kanawha valleys the previous year. Washington envisioned a navigable water route, with canals, connecting Richmond and the Ohio River.

September 13, 1862: The Battle of Charleston Begins

Sep 13, 2019
Joseph A. J. Lightburn
E-WV / The Humanities Council

On September 13, 1862, Charleston residents awoke to the sound of artillery. It was part of a Confederate push to take control of the region after 5,000 Union troops had been transferred from the Kanawha Valley to defend Washington. This left the remaining Union forces, led Joseph A. J. Lightburn, badly outnumbered.

  

Eric Douglas / WVPB

Eric Gardner has a different perspective than most about the rivers in central Appalachia. That’s because he spends most of his time in them. 

Gardner is a commercial diver. He works in the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, maintaining tow boats, barges, pipelines and spillways. 

“I started out with some older gentleman that ran the company. [They]  took a liking to me and taught me a lot of the trades that I still use to this day,” he said. 

Eric Douglas / WVPB

There was a time that life along the river revolved around riverboats. In the 19th century, the only way to get supplies or mail was the river. To keep the history of the river alive, a community of enthusiasts in West Virginia and Ohio maintain riverboats for their personal use. 

The original riverboats were called “sternwheelers.” The stern is the back of the boat, so these riverboats had a paddlewheel that provided thrust to propel the boat up and down the river. 

May 5, 1923: Fire Destroys Luna Park in Charleston

May 5, 2019
Luna-Park
e-WV Encyclopedia

On May 5, 1923, an accidental fire started by welders destroyed most of Luna Park on Charleston’s West Side. The seven-acre amusement park had been built in 1912 on a former three-hole golf course.

Sept. 1, 1671: Explorers Set Out Westward from Petersburg, Va.

Sep 1, 2017
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Explorers Thomas Batts, Thomas Wood, and Robert Fallam set out on a momentous expedition westward from Petersburg, Virginia, on September 1, 1671. At the time, white settlers knew almost nothing about the land west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The explorers’ exact route is unknown, but they likely crossed into present West Virginia in Monroe County and then followed the New River. From there, it’s difficult to match their journal up with actual places. However, they likely made their way to the Falls of the Kanawha River at what is today Gauley Bridge in Fayette County.

Kanawha River
Acroterion / wikimedia commons

A Kanawha County official is demanding more details about a small spill along the Kanawha River that apparently involved the same primary chemical that caused a water crisis in the area three years ago.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports County Commission President Kent Carper wrote a strongly worded letter Monday to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection regarding a small spill at a coal preparation facility last week.

Kanawha Watershed
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

On September 29, 1861, one of the worst floods on record hit the Kanawha River watershed. The river crested nearly 17 feet above flood stage in Charleston and badly damaged the valley’s salt works.

It also affected an innovative system of dams and locks that’d been built in the 1850s to transport cannel coal on the Coal River. The refined oil from cannel coal was highly popular as a source of home-lighting fuel throughout the East.

Kanawha River
Acroterion / wikimedia commons

Volunteers are gathering next month to help clean up the Kanawha River in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said in a news release the event is being held from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 10. Cleanup sites are still being finalized.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection

There’s a 72-mile stretch of the Kanawha River that runs from the small town of Diamond, near Belle in southern Kanawha County, all the way to Point Pleasant where it flows into the Ohio River. Since 1980, this section—known as Zone 1 by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection—has been exempt from being classified as Category A. That exemption prevents that section of the Kanawha River from being used as a source for drinking water. 

Liz McCormick

Theater has often been a means to convey a particular message. Since ancient times, it has been used to teach lessons, understand important events, tell stories, and provide entertainment for its audience, and one company comes to Charleston this summer to start a dialogue with West Virginia…about water.