Canaan Valley Resort State Park
Canaan Valley is close to other scenic and recreational sites, including Blackwater Falls
The park is home to numerous year-round activities including hiking, skiing, and golf.
Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1994 and is one of the most diverse freshwater wetland areas in Appalachia.
Canaan Valley is a popular ski area, owing to its status as the highest mountain valley east of the Rockies.
Backstory and Context
Thomas Lewis and Peter Jefferson, the father of Thomas Jefferson, were the first to survey this section of what was once part of the British colony of Virginia. The surveyors went on to mark the “First Fountain” of the Potomac River and wondered down Cabin Mountain when they first encountered what they labeled a “swamp” now known as the wetlands of Canaan Valley. Although trappers and traders preceded the surveyors, Thomas Lewis’s journal is the first written account of anyone of European descent in what is now Tucker County West Virginia.
The effort to convert this area into a state park was made possible with assistance from the Economic Development Administration during the Kennedy Administration. The park was also made possible through the generosity of S. Maude Kaemmerling who willed several thousand acres of Canaan Valley to the state. The park was established in 1957 and the first government-protected wildlife refuge in Canaan Valley was established four years later. In the 1970s, local citizens and environmental groups were able to block efforts by Allegheny Power Systems to construct a damn and hydroelectric plant. The company owned more than 13,000 acres in the area and hoped to create a facility that would generate electricity. Unfortunately, the plan required that nearly a quarter of the valley would be flooded. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demonstrated that the plan would lead to adverse effects throughout the valley and its wetlands. As a result, the federal government blocked the plan.