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Kanawha River Facts


The Kanawha River is West Virginia’s largest inland waterway. Most history books refer to it as the "Great Kanawha". The Great Kanawha flows for 43 miles in Kanawha county. The Kanawha flows in an approximate southeast to northwest director. The Kanawha enters the Ohio river at Point Pleasant in Mason county, 99.5 miles west of the confluence of the New River. Mountain river drainage from North Carolina fills the New River, to the Gauley River than to the mouth of the Kanawha at Kanawha Falls. The Kanawha River was very important to the early settlement and commerce of Kanawha County.

Tributaries of the Kanawha River are:

By the early 1800s the Kanawha was navigable from its mouth at Point Pleasant to Kanawha Falls. But those traveling the Kanawha were at the mercy of fluctuating water levels and obstacles in the river at low water. Boulders and snags were removed from the river and by 1840 river traffic could now handle flatboats of coal, salt, and timber. In 1875 the first locks and dams were built. This made the depth of the Kanawha constant and the fluctuating water problem was solved. More locks and dams were built in future years to control the waters of the Kanawha which often flooded low lying communities.




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