In June 1851, Philip Pendleton Kennedy, the prominent illustrator David Hunter Strother, who was Kennedy’s cousin, and several others on a trout fishing expedition in Western Virginia ventured into the Blackwater region. The group’s experiences were detailed in The Blackwater Chronicle, written by Kennedy and illustrated by Strother, also known as ‘‘Porte Crayon.’’ This humorous treatment of a wilderness adventure makes abundant use of witty literary devices and classical allusions more in the vein of 18th-century authors than the journalistic style of Kennedy’s 19th-century contemporaries.
The adventurers traveled southward from the headwaters of the North Branch of the Potomac by present Gormania, Grant County, and then across the high Alleghenies. Eventually they found the North Fork of the Blackwater River, following that into the Blackwater Canyon in present Tucker County. Here they did their fishing. In his description of the region, which the trekkers called ‘‘Canaan,’’ Kennedy provides modern readers with a glimpse of a portion of present West Virginia that was then untouched by agriculture or industry. The classic book is regarded today as an important ecological document, as well as fine local color writing. The Blackwater Chronicle was originally published in 1853, two years after the trip, and reissued in 2002 by the West Virginia University Press.
Last Revised on December 27, 2010
Kennedy, Philip P. The Blackwater Chronicle. New York: Radford, 1853, Reprint, West Virginia University Press, 2002.