Northeast of Charleston, on the Elk River in Clay County near the Braxton County line, is a spot known as the ‘‘End of the World.’’ There the river runs along sheer cliffs for about a mile, making such a sharp turn that it appears to come to a dead end against the hillside. It was at this spot in 1904 that Jay Legg is said to have had a troubling vision of himself while floating a log raft down Elk River. Thinking his trouble lay ahead, Legg decided to return early to his home in Harden’s Lumber Camp in Clay County, where he was shot to death that night by his wife, Sarah. His troubles are memorialized in a well-known local ballad.
The End of the World was a favorite spot of W.E.R. Byrne, author of the classic book, Tale of the Elk, and the river’s most famous chronicler. Byrne, who contracted his final illness at his camp there, dedicated these lines to the End of the World:
‘‘When former delights have relinquished their charm and the spirit turns backward its flow; When the order shall come to give over the fight, and the flag of life’s battle is furled, Let me sleep—let me dream—by the murmuring stream, In my camp at the End of the World.’’
This Article was written by Christine D. Fenn
Last Revised on July 19, 2012
Byrne, W.E.R. Tale of the Elk. Charleston: West Virginia Publishing Company, 1940, Reprint, Charleston: Quarrier Press, 1995.
Jones, James Gay. Haunted Valley and More Folk Tales of Appalachia. Parsons: McClain, 1979.