Dorsey's Knob is the summit of Morgantown, home to Sky Rock, one of the highest points in the county, where one can see for thirty miles in every direction after a steep but short walk to the top. Located off Route 119 on Grafton Road towards the edge of Morgantown and Monongalia County, Dorsey's Knob Lodge also hosts up to sixteen people, and is popular around the holidays and weekends. The park also contains a disc golf course, and walking trails throughout. It is owned and operated by the Board of Park and Recreation Commisioners (BOPARC).
Most of what is now Morgantown was
fought over among French and English settlers and the native Indians until
the Treaty of Paris in 1763. While the treaty was more in favor of land for the
English, Indian fighting continued up until the Revolution. During this time up
to the Revolution, several forts were built around and in what is now
Morgantown, among those is land that included what is known now as Dorsey's
Dorsey's Knob was not always at such a great height. About 300 million years ago, a rock layer known as the Lower Pittsburgh Sandstone was what Sky Rock began as, and gradually over time it uplifted and eroded to what one can see now as the summit of Dorsey's Knob. Around 17,000 BC, the first hunter-gatherers entered the region around Dorsey's Knob. Among the land they inhabited, they shared space with prehistoric mammals such as saber-toothed cats and mammoths. Moving forward in time and space, in about 900 AD a people referred to as the Monongahela People inhabited the land along the river that shares their name. Their villages and agriculture were common for the time period, and there continued to be a native peoples's presence up until the English and French invaded the land in the 1700s.
The Cobun [Coburn] family was given a parcel of land located near Cobun's
Creek and present-day Dorsey's Knob in 1770, and Cobun's Fort was
built in this area of then Morgan District. This land parcel is two miles from
present-day Morgantown, and across from Decker's Creek. Johnathan Cobun is
credited with establishing this land and the fort that was built upon it.
Since at this time there were still Indians occupying land opposite the fort
and Cobun's Creek, the fort was prone to attacks, and in 1778 Cobun's Fort was
burned to the ground by a group of Indians. There is no documentation of who
owned or lived on the land that was Cobun's Fort until 1803, when George Dorsey
of Elk Ridge, Maryland was sold the Cobun farm by Mr. Cobun. During Mr. Dorsey's ownership is
when the summit became known as Dorsey's Knob.
Many people in the city of Morgantown have left their mark on the community, some of which can still be seen today. Dorsey's Knob is one of those marks, named after one of the oldest families to live in the area that became Morgantown. The property was passed down to the next generation of Dorsey during the 19th century. Warren C. Dorsey, a prominent member of the Morgantown community who was on the Board of Education, owned Dorsey's Knob when it became a popular tourist attraction. While Morgantown and West Virginia University grew, so did the attraction to Sky Rock and the surrounding area. After W.C. Dorsey, the passing of the property is not clear, but in 1882 it is known that the area was still privately owned in the original family. However, sometime in the mid-20th century, the property changed hands to a new family, the Fawley's, who came to the area between the 1940s and 50s and established a music store, which is still in operation today as Fawley's Music. Along with their shop, they came into owning and operating Dorsey's Knob. The road leading up to the park is also named after Mr. Fawley.
It was not until 2002 that BOPARC was able to buy 70 acres from then owner O.B. Fawley, who was also renowned for his Fawley's Music Co. in Sabraton, a small community located next to Morgantown. After the exchange, the area was renamed Dorsey's Knob Park, and the original house was renovated into a lodge that now can host up to 16 people, and is popular for weddings, graduation parties, and weekend trips. A disc golf course, walking trails, and playground were also installed during the past decade, making the area attractive to more tourists and visitors to the area. The park has only improved since its change of hands in 2002, and is a great day or weekend trip. It reminds the town of its beginnings, and how a small area set out of site came to be a beautiful area owned by some of Morgantown's most influential people. In 2006, the Spirit Wall was installed in the park by Philadelphia muralist Isaiah Zagar, with the help of other local artists. The mural was inspired by Native American artwork and features themes of turtles, deer, and Native American beliefs and stories.