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Tony Beaver is a West Virginia folk figure similar to Paul Bunyan. Margaret Prescott Montague, native poet and author, believed Tony and Paul were one and the same, a mythical super-lumberman appearing under different names in different parts of the country. Montague first collected the stories of his exploits from real lumbermen at the turn of the century. This folk hero’s adventures were created by the West Virginia ‘‘woodhicks’’ as they tried to out-lie each other during evenings in the logging camps.

Tony Beaver had been born regular-size but throughout childhood he grew in a most outrageous manner. As a young man he naturally preferred the out-of-doors. It was high on a mountain, up mythical ‘‘Eel River,’’ that Tony built his lumbering camp.

Folks often sent Tony word, by a jaybird, that they desperately needed help. One winter it got so cold and snowy that they couldn’t get outside for firewood. Tony just strolled out across those snowbanks and cut hundreds of tree tops, delivering firewood right down through the chimneys. Spring came slowly and planted crops failed until Tony put his efforts into growing one big ‘‘tater.’’ It covered four acres of ground, and fed the entire population for several weeks.

This Article was written by Noel W. Tenney

Last Revised on December 03, 2015


Cober, Mary E. The Remarkable History of Tony Beaver, West Virginian. New York: David McKay Co., 1953.

Montague, Margaret Prescott. Up Eel River. Freeport: Books for Libraries Press, 1928.

Musick, Ruth Ann, ed. A Man of West Virginia. West Virginia Folklore Journal, (Fall 1954).

Rector, Laura J. "Prose Legends of West Virginia." M.A. thesis, Ohio University, 1943.

Cite This Article

Tenney, Noel W. "Tony Beaver." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 03 December 2015. Web. 23 July 2024.


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