kanawha river

New River (Kanawha River)

The New River, a tributary of the Kanawha River, is approximately 320 mi (515 km) long, flowing through the states of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia in the United States. Much of the river's course through West Virginia is designated as the New River Gorge National River. The New River is one of the American Heritage Rivers of the United States.


The New River is formed by the confluence of the South Fork New River and the North Fork New River in Ashe County, North Carolina. It then flows north into southwestern Virginia, passing near Galax, Virginia and through a gorge in the Iron Mountains. Continuing north, the river enters Pulaski County, Virginia, where it is impounded by Claytor Dam, creating Claytor Lake. North of the dam the New River accepts the Little River and passes the city of Radford, Virginia before passing through Walker Mountain via a narrow water gap. After flowing north through Giles County, Virginia and the town of Narrows, the river crosses into West Virginia.

The New River is impounded by Bluestone Dam, creating Bluestone Lake in Summers County, West Virginia. The Bluestone River tributary joins the New River in Bluestone Lake. Just below the dam the Greenbrier River joins the New River, which continues its northward course into the New River Gorge. Near the end of the gorge the river flows by the town of Fayetteville, West Virginia. A few miles northwest of Fayetteville the New River merges with the Gauley River, forming the Kanawha River. The Kanawha is a tributary of the Ohio River, which in turn is a tributary of the Mississippi River.


Despite its name, the river is considered by some geologists to be possibly one of the oldest rivers in the world, between 10 million and 360 million years old. According to local folklore, it is considered to be second in age only to the Nile River and thus the oldest in North America. However, the ages of rivers are very difficult to establish with precision; as the wide range of possible ages for the New River demonstrates, there is no established ranking of the ages of major rivers. The New River flows in a generally south to north course, which is against the southwest to northeast topology of the Appalachian Mountains and the west to east flow of most other nearby major rivers especially in Virginia and North Carolina. This peculiarity may mean that the New River's formation preceded much of the surrounding landscape, although again this hypothesis has not been proven beyond doubt.

Natural history

The New River is home to many species of freshwater game fish including bass, trout, walleye, muskellunge, crappie, bluegill, carp, or flathead and channel catfish.


The first recorded European exploration of the New River was the fur trading Batts-Fallam expedition of 1671, sent by Abraham Wood. Variant names of the New River include "Wood's River", after Abraham Wood.


The New River is spanned by the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia. It is also a very popular river for white water rafting (class II-IV in season, IV-VI during the spring run-off), and several commercial outfitters offer a variety of guided trips. Those willing to brave the colder water of spring will be rewarded with a more exciting big-water experience.

Towns along the New River

Parks, forests and trails along the New River

Listed from upstream to downstream:

Variant names

According to the Geographic Names Information System, the New River has also been known as:

  • Conhaway River
  • Great Konhaway River
  • Kanawha River
  • Kunhaway River
  • Mon-don-ga-cha-te
  • Wood River
  • Wood's River
  • Woods River

See also


  • Adams, Noah, Far Appalachia: Following the New River North (2001), provides an informal, personal account of the river's natural history and local culture
  • DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

External links

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