Located near Petersburg in Grant County, the Smoke Hole Lodge sits on the South Branch of the Potomac River in a prime natural location. The remote site is accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicle, horse or canoe. Until it closed in 2001, the lodge offered old-fashioned accommodations to guests seeking respite from modern life.
The first lodge at Smoke Hole was originally a one-room log cabin that later served as a schoolhouse. After World War I, Wheeling industrialist Edward E. Stifel bought the property, renovated the schoolhouse, and opened the Smoke Hole Club. Other sportsmen’s clubs operated in West Virginia during that time, including the Allegheny Sportsmen’s Association in Pocahontas County, at Minnehaha Springs, and Cheat Mountain Club in Randolph County, west of Durbin on Shavers Fork.
The original lodge stood until November 4, 1985, when floodwaters swept it away. By 1987, Edward Stifel III had constructed a new three-story lodge. Beyond the reach of electric service, the stone-and-wood structure was furnished with gas lights, kerosene lanterns, gas refrigerators, and a wood-burning range. The lodge had five double bedrooms, two dormitory-style rooms, a living room with a stone fireplace, and a dining room. Guests could fish, hunt for small game, ride horses, canoe, help with farm animals, or take on routine chores.
Edward Stifel III sold conservation easements on the 1,126-acre property to the West Virginia Nature Conservancy in 2004 and hoped to sell the property itself to new owners who would reopen the lodge.
Last Revised on October 29, 2010
Buckingham, Nancy. Smoke Hole Lodge Offers the Luxury of Wondering. Wonderful West Virginia, (Mar. 1989).