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The Stony River drains an area of approximately 60 square miles in northeastern West Virginia. From its headwaters near the Grant-Tucker county line to its mouth at the corner of Grant and Mineral counties, it is 25.3 miles long. The Stony is a tributary of the North Branch of the Potomac River.

Thomas Jefferson’s father, Peter Jefferson, was one of the early explorers of the region. Thomas Lewis, a member of Peter Jefferson’s party, left an entry in his journal on October 14, 1746, describing the stream and its rugged environs as ‘‘sufficient to strike terror into any human creature.’’

Full settlement of this remote wilderness occurred much later, during the logging boom of the late 1800s. Henry Gassaway Davis, an industrialist and U.S. senator, was a major landowner. He established the region’s first railroads, which brought in loggers to harvest the vast stands of spruce and northern hardwoods. Coal mining began about the same time.

Virginia Electric Power Company built the Mount Storm Dam near the headwaters of the Stony River in 1965. The company, now Dominion Power uses water from the reservoir to cool its Mount Storm Power Station. Mount Storm Lake is popular with fishermen, boaters, and divers.

The Stony River once contained a healthy population of native brook trout and associated cold-water species, but early discharges of mine waste and acid water ruined much of the river. Poor water quality in Mount Storm Lake initially prevented a viable fishery from being established there. However, improvement of discharges at active mine sites and increased alkalinity of the power station’s effluent have led to the establishment of a warm-water fishery. Below the dam, the heated effluent prevents the establishment of a cold-water fishery, while mine drainage from Fourmile Run and other tributaries inhibits the establishment of warm-water aquatic life.

The water quality and fauna of Stony River have been studied intensively by biologists from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and Dominion Power. These groups are working to restore the environmental damage that resulted from earlier exploitation of the area’s rich natural resources.

This Article was written by Michael A. Arcuri

Last Revised on September 13, 2012


Clarkson, Roy B. Tumult on the Mountains: Lumbering in West Virginia 1770-1920. Parsons: McClain, 1964.

Lewis, Thomas. The Fairfax Line: Thomas Lewis's Journal of 1746. New Market, VA: Henkel Press, 1925.

Lewis, Gerald. Status of Stony River Watershed, Grant County, West Virginia. Report. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, 1970.

Cite This Article

Arcuri, Michael A. "Stony River." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 13 September 2012. Web. 14 July 2024.


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