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The area of West Virginia known as the Forks of Cheat lies between the Monongahela and Cheat rivers, including Stewartstown and the surrounding area in the northeast corner of Monongalia County and neighboring Pennsylvania. The name is confusing, in that it refers to the river fork created where the Cheat joins the Monongahela, rather than the place where the Cheat River itself forks into its tributaries. That is many miles upstream, at Parsons.

The Forks of Cheat has long been used as a regional name. An 1883 Monongalia County history says that the early settlers called all of the county’s Union District west of Cheat River the Forks of Cheat. One of the earliest settlers was William Stewart, for whom Stewartstown was named. Irish-born, he came to the area in 1770. The Forks-of-Cheat Baptist Church has had four buildings on the same site and is believed to have the longest continuous history of any church in West Virginia. The church was established in 1775.

The Forks area was traversed by a major Indian trail, and early white settlers endured the frequent hazard of Indian raids. Settler John Evans, in a letter of April 18, 1778, reported recent attacks in which Indians had killed and captured ten people ‘‘above the mouth of the Cheat River,’’ stolen horses, and burned a fort. A grandmother and three granddaughters were among those carried away. Stories such as this one were common.

Agriculture was the economic mainstay of the forks in the 19th century. The area also participated in the early iron industry of the region. Coal mining and natural gas were important in the 20th century. The construction of the Cheat Lake dam and hydroelectric station provided work in the 1920s, and recreational activities associated with the lake help shape the character of the area today.

U.S. 119 bisects Forks of Cheat on its way from Morgantown to Point Marion, Pennsylvania. The Mason-Dixon Line crosses the Forks of Cheat, separating West Virginia from Pennsylvania.

This Article was written by Hallie Chillag Dunlap

Last Revised on July 26, 2012


Sources

West Virginia Writers' Project. West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State. New York: Oxford University Press, 1941.

Core, Earl L. The Monongalia Story 5 vols. Parsons: McClain, 1974-84.

Janssen, Quinith & William Fernbach. West Virginia Place Names. Shepherdstown: J & F Enterprises, 1984.

Kenny, Hamill. West Virginia Place Names. Piedmont: Place Name Press, 1945.

Weltner, Fred Hamilton & Harry LeRoy Jeffries, eds. The Stewartstown Story. Morgantown Printing & Binding Co., 1971.

Wiley, Samuel T. History of Monongalia County. Kingwood: Preston Pub. Co., 1883.

Cite This Article

Dunlap, Hallie Chillag "Forks of Cheat." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 26 July 2012. Web. 17 January 2018.

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