New River (Kanawha River): Wikis


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New River
Country  United States
States  North Carolina,  Virginia,  West Virginia
Counties Ashe NC, Alleghany NC, Grayson VA, Carroll VA, Wythe VA, Pulaski VA, Montgomery VA, Giles VA, Mercer WV, Summers WV, Raleigh WV, Fayette WV
 - left Bluestone River, East River
 - right Little River, Indian Creek, Greenbrier River
Source South Fork New River [1]
 - location Boone, NC
 - elevation 3,104 ft (946 m)
 - coordinates 36°12′16″N 81°38′59″W / 36.20444°N 81.64972°W / 36.20444; -81.64972
Secondary source North Fork New River [2]
 - location Elk Knob, Watauga County, NC
 - elevation 4,446 ft (1,355 m)
 - coordinates 36°19′59″N 81°41′04″W / 36.33306°N 81.68444°W / 36.33306; -81.68444
Source confluence
 - location Ashe County, NC
 - elevation 2,546 ft (776 m)
 - coordinates 36°32′45″N 81°21′09″W / 36.54583°N 81.3525°W / 36.54583; -81.3525
Mouth Kanawha River [3]
 - 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
Length 320 mi (515 km)
Discharge for Glen Lyn, VA
 - average 6,640 cu ft/s (188 m3/s) [4]
 - max 22,300 cu ft/s (631 m3/s) (1987)
 - min 1,420 cu ft/s (40 m3/s) (1976)
Map of the Kanawha River watershed, with the New River and its watershed highlighted.

The New River, a tributary of the Kanawha River, is approximately 320 mi (515 km) long, flowing through the states of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia in the United States. Much of the river's course through West Virginia is designated as the New River Gorge National River. The New River is one of the American Heritage Rivers of the United States.



The New River is formed by the confluence of the South Fork New River and the North Fork New River in Ashe County, North Carolina. It then flows north into southwestern Virginia, passing near Galax, Virginia and through a gorge in the Iron Mountains. Continuing north, the river enters Pulaski County, Virginia, where it is impounded by Claytor Dam, creating Claytor Lake. North of the dam the New River accepts the Little River and passes the city of Radford, Virginia before passing through Walker Mountain via a narrow water gap. After flowing north through Giles County, Virginia and the town of Narrows, the river crosses into West Virginia.

The New River is impounded by Bluestone Dam, creating Bluestone Lake in Summers County, West Virginia. The Bluestone River tributary joins the New River in Bluestone Lake. Just below the dam the Greenbrier River joins the New River, which continues its northward course into the New River Gorge. Near the end of the gorge the river flows by the town of Fayetteville, West Virginia. A few miles northwest of Fayetteville the New River merges with the Gauley River, forming the Kanawha River. The Kanawha is a tributary of the Ohio River, which in turn is a tributary of the Mississippi River.


Despite its name, the river is considered by some geologists to be possibly one of the oldest rivers in the world, between 10 million and 360 million years old. According to local folklore, it is considered to be second in age only to the Nile River and thus the oldest in North America. However, there are several rivers in Australia (eg. the Finke River) that are known to be significantly older, and the ages of rivers are very difficult to establish with precision; as the wide range of possible ages for the New River demonstrates, there is no established ranking of the ages of major rivers. The New River flows in a generally south to north course, which is against the southwest to northeast topology of the Appalachian Mountains and the west to east flow of most other nearby major rivers especially in Virginia and North Carolina. This peculiarity may mean that the New River's formation preceded much of the surrounding landscape, although again this hypothesis has not been proven beyond doubt.

Natural history

The New River is home to many species of freshwater game fish including bass, trout, walleye, muskellunge, crappie, bluegill, carp, or flathead and channel catfish.


The first recorded European exploration of the New River was the fur trading Batts-Hallam expedition of 1671, sent by Abraham Wood. Variant names of the New River include "Wood's River", after Abraham Wood.


The New River is spanned by the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia, which is open for BASE jumping on Bridge Day. It is also a very popular river for white water rafting (class II-IV in season, IV-VI during the spring run-off), and several commercial outfitters offer a variety of guided trips. Those willing to brave the colder water of spring will be rewarded with a more challenging big-water experience. Near the bridge there are over 1400 single pitch sport climbs.[5]

The New River Gorge and Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia

Towns along the New River

Parks, forests and trails along the New River

Listed from upstream to downstream:

Variant names

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

  • Conhaway River
  • Great Konhaway River
  • Kanawha River
  • Kunhaway River
  • Mon-don-ga-cha-te
  • Wood River
  • Wood's River
  • Woods River
The New River in the New River Gorge.

See also


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: South Fork New River
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: North Fork New River
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: New River
  4. ^ United States Geological Survey; USGS 03176500 NEW RIVER AT GLEN LYN, VA; retrieved April 19, 2008.
  5. ^ "Climbing at New River Gorge (National Park Service)".  
  • Adams, Noah, Far Appalachia: Following the New River North (2001), provides an informal, personal account of the river's natural history and local culture
  • DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

External links



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