Eight miles below Grafton, the Tygart Valley River drops over an impressive series of falls. In 1964, this area was acquired by the state, with a total of 1,145 acres to become Valley Falls State Park. The park offers fishing, picnicking, game courts, and hiking trails, plus stone ruins providing an insight into the past.
The history of the falls area goes back to the 18th century, when an Indian trader operated there. In 1837, W. W. Fetterman acquired the site, building a whipsaw mill that sawed logs into timbers and lumber. In 1847, a gristmill was built by Bradshaw and William Whitescarver. In 1853, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was completed from Grafton to Wheeling with the falls area included on the line. With this event Valley Falls underwent a boom, with a hotel, school, church, sawmills, feed mills, shoe shops, coffin factory, a Wells Fargo office, post office, and a ferry. The Civil War saw considerable activity at the falls, as the B&O moved troops and supplies through the region. In addition, many gunstocks were manufactured for the Civil War. In 1886, a fire burned much of the town, and two years later a flood destroyed many homes, buildings, bridges, and gristmills. After this, the town never fully recovered.
‘‘Valley Falls’’ was given as the fictional hometown of athlete Chip Hilton and his friends, in the popular series of youth sports novels by Clair Bee, who grew up in Grafton.
This Article was written by Arnout Hyde Jr.
Last Revised on November 05, 2010
Cain, David. Valley Falls State Park. Wonderful West Virginia, (Mar. 2000).
Crockett, Maureen. Magnificent Valley Falls. Wonderful West Virginia, (Nov. 1991).