Arbuckle’s Fort was part of a chain of forts established to defend settlers moving into the Colonial United States’ western frontier. It was constructed in 1774 in reaction to raids from Native Americans in the western part of Virginia, now West Virginia, brought about by increasing European settlement. The fort was built above the confluence of Muddy and Mill Creeks and was first occupied by Captain Matthew Arbuckle’s militia company, who remained until the fall of 1774 when they left to guide Colonel Andrew Lewis to Point Pleasant as part of a campaign during Dunmore’s War. The fort was reoccupied at least by the fall of 1776 during the American Revolution. As groups of Native Americans increasingly sided with the British, the fort was strengthened as a defense along the Allegheny Frontier. The fort was attacked twice but held.
No description of the fort has ever been found, but excavations conducted by archaeologists Kim and Stephen McBride have helped reveal the history of this important site. Buried features include a stone chimney base and foundation from a blockhouse, with a nearby large storage pit that may have served as a powder magazine, ash and refuse filled pits, and a slag concentration from blacksmithing. A trench filled with post molds delineates a stockade with north and south bastions, and two gates. The archaeological integrity of the site; its connection to Native American, African American, and settler communities; and its rich historical documentation give the Arbuckle’s Fort site tremendous potential for research and public interpretation.
In the short term, Appalachian Headwaters will conduct restoration on approximately 2,500 acres of mined land by ripping compacted soils open to loosen, so seedling trees of native hardwood forests can take root, returning these disturbed sites to deciduous forest more closely resembling the natural forest that once thrived here. At the same time, stream channels affected by past mine activity will be restored as well. The Mammoth tract will be a demonstration of new technology, and mammoth dreams.
The remaining 2,500 acres on the tract is still nicely forested. WVLT is evaluating the recreational potential of this site for hikers, mountain bikers, and other trail users. Working with the Upper Kanawha Valley Tourism Project, and specifically the towns of Smithers and Montgomery, the Land Trust’s Mammoth site will offer a destination that complements the riverside redevelopment of these small towns, aiming to reinvigorate the local economy with tourism visitation and to expand area residents’ opportunities for recreation.
The Jenkinsburg tract is well-known for its “high bridge”, and swimming areas along the Cheat River and Big Sandy Creek, including “Blue Hole”. WVU students, locals, whitewater enthusiasts, hunters, and hikers frequent the area.
Historically, Jenkinsburg was a small a logging town. The Jenkinsburg Bridge was built in 1912 by the Canton Bridge Company, and is an example of a rare design, known as a pin-connected Pennsylvania through-truss bridge. Canton Bridge Company became American Bridge Company, one of the nation’s biggest bridge-builders during the early 20th century and has numerous structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A corner of the property abuts the bridge.
We are partnering with Friends of the Cheat on the site management. Please support this effort by donating today and selecting Jenkinsburg Recreation Area on your gift designation.
You can view this property from the Bickle Knob Fire Tower located on Stuart Memorial Drive, which is just minutes from Elkins, if you set out traveling on Route 33. Stuart Memorial Drive is a 10-mile drive through the Monongahela National Forest which encapsulates so much of what is unique and representative of these public lands – spectacular views from the Bickle Knob Observation Tower, unique limestone geology, trailheads into Otter Creek Wilderness Area, iconic red spruce forest, luxurious roadside rhododendron blooms, a quaint campground, the Bear Heaven rock house and boulders, and a rich Civilian Conservation Corps history with a monument dedicated to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This place has it all!
In the fall of 2016, WVLT purchased a historic Civil War site in Pocahontas County, known as Camp Bartow. The property was the scene of the Battle of Greenbrier River in October 1861. The 14-acre property lies in the heart of the battlefield and was a campground of the 31st Virginia Infantry. As part of the first campaign of the Civil War, the battle proved instrumental in the creation of West Virginia in 1863.
The Elizabeth’s Woods Nature Preserve is located just south of Morgantown, W. Va. Trails and parking are currently being developed. Future developments will include improving parking and accessibility, extending trail networks, adding interpretive signs and planning educational programs.
The preserve was deeded to the WVLT in 1995. The WVLT manages the property under guidelines outlined in the deed which require keeping the property in its natural condition while accommodating hiking and nature study.
Are you interested in volunteering? We are scheduling several work days for the spring and summer. Please call (304) 413-0945 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up!
The property links to other public lands, including the Gauley River National Recreation Area and Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. It is historically unique as the location of a Confederate retreat during the Civil War.
The Gauley River National Recreation Area was designated as part of the National Park system in 1988. It contains 25 miles of the Gauley River and 5 miles of the neighboring Meadow River.
Marie Hall Jones, born in Ritchie County in 1907, was an ardent conservationist and nature lover. Returning home with her husband after living around the United States and in Southeast Asia, they settled in Fairmont, where they raised four children. An interest in majestic old forests evolved into a near-obsessive search for one to protect, as she realized that many of the patches of ancient forests in West Virginia had already fallen to the axe. “Alas, I was too late,” she later wrote in a journal, about her search for the right tract in Ritchie County in the 1960s and 1970s.
A tip from a professor friend at Fairmont State College (now University) that a Doddridge County property with an impressive stand of ancient trees was going to be auctioned in a sale, forced by a family’s joint owners with differing views on what to do with the land, led her with her youngest child, Allen, to the courthouse in 1972.
“It’s one of those lifetime events that made a lasting impression,” said Allen, then 24 years old, and the donor of the property to the West Virginia Land Trust. “I can still remember exactly what happened. I was visiting at home, in the process of moving to California after graduate school. When we got to the courthouse, it was jam-packed full of people. It was sort of a community event, with people wanting to see how the bidding went.”
“Mother asked me to do the bidding. Lots of people were bidding at the start, but dropped out as the bidding got into more serious money. There I am, a young man with a business degree from Wharton (at U. of Pennsylvania), bidding against timber companies. We hadn’t really talked about a maximum price. I kept looking at Mother, to see if she was happy. She kept saying, ‘go on, go on!’”
The price for the 190-acre tract rose to $39,000. Sensing the timber companies were losing interest, Allen bid $39,100… “And that’s what it sold for.”
Protected ever since, the Jones tract is an exceptional Appalachian mixed hardwood forest and includes Black walnut, a variety of oaks, maples, hickories, birch, basswood, and yellow poplar, among others, typical of the diversity of the central Appalachian deciduous forest. The property includes a flat floodplain meadow, slopes with mature mixed hardwood forests, and near the top of the ridge, on steep slopes, between 15 and 20 acres of impressive ancient trees.
A 44-year journey for a California resident with West Virginia roots has come to “a happy ending as my mother wished,” and entered its next phase with perpetual protection for an ancient forest in the care of the West Virginia Land Trust.
The Yellow Creek Natural Area is 860 acres in Tucker County that adjoins the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area. The property is named after a tributary of the Blackwater River that flows through the property. The property also includes Moon Rocks, a rock formation that is a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers.
The property contains 3+ miles of the Moon Rocks-Hoodoo Rock loop trail, and links to 20+ miles of the Heart of the Highlands Trail System. Trail access can be made from the parking area at the National Youth Science Foundation building off Appalachian Corridor H just north of Davis, or from Camp 70 road at the south end of the Tucker County town.
WVLT staff are happy to lead a guided tour. Give us a call at (304) 413-0945.
While we now own the property, we still need funds for management, expanding the trail system, and ecological restoration. Do you love Moon Rocks at the Yellow Creek Preserve? Please consider a donation.
The West Virginia Land Trust partnered with the City of Oak Hill to purchase 283 acres of land for public recreational use. The future is exciting as Oak Hill prepares to open this “outdoor recreational mecca” for climbing, hiking, and mountain biking that will add yet another option for tourism in the New River Gorge Region. This property is packed with natural rock features, including a nearly 2-mile long rock wall, which makes this new destination worth the hike to visit.
Two islands in the Ohio River were donated to the West Virginia Land Trust and will be protected as essential habitat for years to come.
The shallow waters of the river can provide quality habitat for freshwater mussels, including endangered species, such as the pink mucket and fanshell. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons and Indiana bats also use islands along the river as habitat.
With much of the islands submerged underwater, WVLT will work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners in upcoming years to stabilize stream banks and restore habitat. In addition to the long-term benefits to fish, wildlife, and other habitats, this land protection effort will also help improve water quality and maintain the ecosystems that offer public recreational opportunities for people in the Ohio River Valley.
Floodplain forest species, including sycamores and cottonwoods, exist in narrow swaths along the preserve’s stream banks. Restoring and expanding them will contribute to improved water quality in the South Fork and the South Branch of the Potomac, which flank the property, as they flow to the Chesapeake Bay. As a recreational resource, the preserve has potential not only for the immediate community, but also for travelers who access the area from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area via Corridor H.
With one of the few known barn owl nesting sites in West Virginia, as well as lowland fields, stream frontage, and wetland habitats, the Hardy County property easily lends itself to nature watching. The ‘sloughs’ (pronounced “sloos”) are an especially interesting feature of the Poppy Bean Preserve. As ‘off-channel habitat,’ these slow-moving backwaters provide an environment for smaller fish and other aquatic species to escape high flows and avoid predation in the main river.
Management plans are underway, so stay tuned!
Just 10 minutes south of Morgantown, you will find 320 acres for hiking and nature study!
History of Toms Run Preserve…
Elizabeth’s Woods (our first nature preserve) was donated to the Land Trust in 1995 for the purpose of recreation and nature study. In 2017, the organization was able to purchase two neighboring properties expanding the preserve to its current size. Plans are underway to build trails on the undeveloped areas.
While the preserve is now open, trail building and work continues! We welcome newcomers who want to get involved! Call our office at (304) 413-0945 or email email@example.com.
The Wallace Hartman Nature Preserve is a 52-acre natural area located minutes from downtown Charleston, W. Va. Trails are established on the property and are open to the public.
WVLT owns and manages the property for recreational and educational opportunities, habitat protection, and scenic enjoyment.