Monongahela National Forest

June 25, 1980: Two Women Murdered Traveling to Rainbow Gathering

Jun 25, 2020
Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist and serial killer, confessed to the murders.
E-WV / WV Humanities Council

On June 25, 1980, Nancy Santomero and Vicki Durian, who were apparently hitchhiking to the Rainbow Family reunion in Webster County, were murdered on Droop Mountain, in southern Pocahontas County.

The Rainbow Family is a loosely organized group, variously characterized as hippies and drifters, or as peaceful nature lovers and ecologists.

The annual gatherings, first held in Aspen, Colorado, grew from popular social, political, and cultural movements of the 1960s and early 1970s. The name “rainbow” signifies the diversity of people involved.

A view of the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, which is part of the Monongahela National Forest in eastern West VIrginia.
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The largest national forest in West Virginia announced Wednesday it is shutting down its campgrounds in an attempt to encourage people to social distance.

The Monongahela National Forest has closed all of its 24 developed campgrounds and campsites effective immediately. 


Barb Sargent / Courtesy WV DNR

U.S. Forest Service district biologist Shane Jones stands on an overlook high up on West Virginia’s Cheat Mountain. Behind him lush, red spruce trees stand like sentinels on this frozen landscape. As he looks out, small patches of green dot what is largely a view of the barren, brown trunks of leafless hardwoods.

Wendell Smith/Flickr

As spring approaches, ramps are popping up across West Virginia. The Monongahela National Forest on Friday released guidelines for harvesting the wild onion.

 

 

InciWeb / Monongahela National Forest

Wet, cool conditions are helping to slow a wildfire in Pendleton County that broke out on Thanksgiving.

The Dry Hollow Fire was first reported early Thursday in the Monongahela National Forest near the community of Upper Tract. 

A view of the Monogahela River in Morgantown, W.Va., from beside Woodburn Hall, on West Virginia University's Downtown Campus.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Inside Appalachia’s What’s in a Name segment explores the history and folklore of the names of Appalachian places. For the latest segment, we dug a little deeper into a debate we’ve had here in our newsroom -- the origins of the name of one of our rivers --- and how to pronounce it.

Adobe Stock

The Federal Highway Administration has awarded a $100 million grant for a West Virginia road project.

The agency announced a total of more than $321 million in grants for the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects program. The grants are the first awarded under the program and will help build and repair roads and bridges that serve tribal or federal lands.

U.S. Forest Service / USDA

Prescribed burning is planned for the Hopkins Knob area of Greenbrier County on Sunday, April 29.

According to a news release issued by the U. S. Forest Service, two helicopters and up to 60 firefighters and support staff will be on hand to assist with the prescribed burn inside the in the Monongahela National Forest.

Burning will occur only if weather conditions are favorable.

More information, including maps and photos, can be found on the webpage here.

Fire, Forest FIre
Fæ / Wikimedia Commons

Updated on Monday, October 23 at 3:49 p.m.

The nearly 200-acre wildfire in a remote area of Grant County is now 90 percent contained. As of Friday, no smoke or heat has been visible within the fire area.

The North Fork Mountain Trail has also been reopened, and Area and Trail Closure signs have been removed.

Wikimedia Commons

Two groups aim to improve conditions for aquatic wildlife in Pocahontas County.

The Monongahela National Forest and Trout Unlimited are working together this summer to improve conditions for aquatic life in the town of Bartow, in Pocahontas County.

early fall at Dolly Sods, WV
wikimedia / ForestWander

Updated on 10-06-2016 10:50 a.m.

The Closure Order for the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area was lifted on October 5, 2016 and all trails are now open. A Fire Ban in the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area is still in effect due to prolonged drought and will remain in place until weather conditions improve.  Gas powered backpacking/camping stoves are allowed in the wilderness area.  The current Fire Ban no longer includes the Red Creek Campground and Dolly Sods Picnic Area.

Updated on 09-29-16 5:55 p.m.

Two out of the five wildfires in the Dolly Sods Wilderness have been completely extinguished, and two more fires have been 100 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service team that is managing the Red Creek Fires. There is a fifth fire that firefighters haven't yet been able to contain. This fire was discovered Wednesday, September 29. An explosive safety specialist has been called in to inspect the area surrounding the fifth fire to make sure there are no unexploded ordinances nearby. During World War II, the Dolly Sods Wilderness area was used as a training ground for soldiers, and many artillery and mortar shells shot into the area for practice still exist.

The southwestern portions of Dolly Sods in Tucker County are closed until further notice. The rest of the wilderness area is still open for camping and hiking.


The fires are a 4-mile hike from the nearest road. Thirty Forest Service employees are managing the fires, with the assistance of horses that have packed in supplies.

 

Updated on 09-28-16 4:40 p.m.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, there are now five wildfires burning in the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.  All of the fires are small, less than an acre in size.  Three of the five wildfires are 80-100 percent contained.  It has been determined that three of the five wildfires were caused by unattended campfires.  The cause of the fourth and fifth fire is still under investigation.  Fire suppression efforts continue Wednesday and rain is forecasted for the next couple of days, which authorities say should help their efforts to fight the fires.

The Big Stonecoal Trail, Little Stonecoal Trail, Breathed Mountain Trail, Rocky Point Trail and Dunkenbarger Trail all remained closed in Dolly Sods. A fire ban is in place throughout most of the Dolly Sods area.

Updated on 09-26-16 9:30 p.m.

This past weekend was the peak time for tourists to visit Dolly Sods to see the leaves change for fall. But some of these visitors left behind smoldering campfires, and now four wildfires are burning in the area.

The first fire was discovered two weeks ago on September 16th. That fire is still burning, as well as three more that were discovered last Thursday, and this past weekend. Unattended campfires are believed to have caused three of the fires - and the cause of the fourth is still under investigation.

The Williams River Valley
Thomas Fletcher

An area of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia known as the Birthplace of Rivers is getting some special attention this week.

The name Birthplace of Rivers refers to a wilderness area in the eastern part of the state that contains the headwaters for the Cranberry, Cherry, Gauley, Elk, Williams and Greenbrier rivers.

Dominion Resources

  Friday is the last day to comment on whether surveys for a proposed natural gas pipeline should be allowed in the Monongahela National Forest.

The proposed 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Its path includes about 17 miles through the national forest in Pocahontas and Randolph counties in West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A Shepherdstown-based company looks to diversify West Virginia's economy by focusing on solar energy. The Monongahela National Forest gets a new federal designation to help combat insects and disease. Also, a Brooklyn, New York-based theatre company will soon brings a production to Charleston with hopes to open the public's eyes after the Elk River Chemical Spill.

wikimedia commons

The West Virginia Division of Forestry just got a major tool to help combat forest disease and invasive species. Through an act of congress, the Monongahela National Forest has just been designated an “Insect and Disease Area.”  The designation is designed to streamline efforts to combat insect and disease threats.


Submitted Photo / W.V. Division of Forestry

Update: Friday, November 22 at 10:40 a.m.

The Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County, W.Va. that was struck by a forest fire nearly two weeks ago will reopen to the public on Sunday now that the fire is fully contained.

A news release says the public will be free to enter the Monongahela National Forest area where the fire was beginning Sunday morning, Nov. 24, 2013. 

 

The fire burned 1,611 acres.

The release says visitors to the area should be aware that there are still ongoing monitoring and fire patrol efforts and that while the majority of firefighters have gone home, several crews, engines, and a helicopter continue to work in the area. 

 

Update: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 10 a.m.

The forest fire at the Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County has grown to about 1,600 acres but firefighters are also finding more success in fighting  it. According to a news release the fire is 50 percent contained.

The fire started a week ago on private land adjacent to the Monongahela National Forest 11 miles southwest of Petersburg, W.Va. and three miles northeast Seneca Rocks. The cause is under investigation.

The news release says about 190 firefighters and support staff, including four crews, two modules, six engines, two bulldozers, and one helicopter are assisting with the fire.

The release says: Crews had a safe, productive day yesterday.  The south and east flanks are being mopped up and patrolled. Some minimal fire activity occurred along the crest of North Fork Mountain along the northwest section of the fire.

Plans for today call for direct attack on any remaining active fire. In areas where the fire is not actively burning, crews are strengthening the completed line. 

A cold front moving into the area in late afternoon may bring a chance of thunderstorms with gusty winds and additional rain.

 

Update: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 9 a.m.

The U.S Forest Service and West Virginia Division of Forestry report the fire in the Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County, W.Va. is about 30 percent contained.  

The fire is burning on about 1,400 acres of national forest land and adjacent private property 11 miles southwest of Petersburg and three miles northeast of Seneca Rocks.

Overview of Cranberry Glades and Cranberry Wilderness, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
Jaknouse / wikimedia Commons

Hunters and anglers who use the Monongahela National Forest will have to avoid a large area while timber is being harvested.
 
     The U.S. Forest Service and the state Division of Natural Resources say they'll have to steer clear because of safety concerns while helicopters move logs.
 
     The work was set to begin Friday and could last as long as six weeks, depending on weather.