The Blackwater Falls are located on Blackwater River in Tucker County, near the town of Davis. The dark, tumbling waters plunge almost 60 feet over resistant sandstone of the Pennsylvanian Age, creating one of the most photographed sights in the state. The falls are accessible from steps, and several viewing platforms allow visitors to enjoy the falls throughout the year.
The river enters Blackwater Falls State Park at an elevation of 3,040 feet. For the next 2.2 miles it is a wild river, dropping 57 feet at the main falls and then descending another 560 feet, before leaving the park. The river, geologically young, has carved the spectacular, deep, and almost vertical walls of Blackwater Canyon, which cuts through the surrounding plateau. Blackwater Lodge opened in 1956 on the south rim of the canyon, and a 65-site campground was opened in 1961. The state park, consisting of 1,688 acres, was established in 1937.
In 1851, Philip Pendleton Kennedy wrote an account of his visit to the Blackwater area, describing the impenetrable rhododendron thickets, rugged terrain, and wildlife he found. Kennedy’s book was illustrated by his better-known cousin, David Hunter Strother (‘‘Porte Crayon’’). Strother revisited the Blackwater wilderness in the early 1870s. Timbered in the early 1900s and then ravaged by fires that burned the rich organic soil, the area suffered much environmental degradation. Today, much of the forest has grown back.
Blackwater Falls is the site of an annual spring wildflower walk and is known for its variety of bird life, including several kinds of thrushes and warblers, and other songbirds.
Written by Norma Jean Kennedy-Venable
Kennedy, Philip P. The Blackwater Chronicle. New York: Radford, 1853, Reprint, West Virginia University Press, 2002.
Ludlum, John & Thomas Arkle. Blackwater Falls State Park and Canaan Valley State Park. Morgantown: West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey, 1971.
Smith, J. Lawrence. Blackwater Country. Parsons: McClain, 1972.