A dramatic 63-foot waterfall and an eight-mile-long gorge—the Blackwater Canyon—are focal points of this 1,688-acre state park. In 1859 a twelve-room log building, the Dobbin House, was constructed as a hunting and fishing lodge to accommodate the first intrepid visitors to the canyon. When Henry Gassaway Davis began purchasing land several decades later, the pristine wilderness was doomed to extinction. Deforestation was swift, and once the trees were gone, the thick underlying humus dried out to become fodder for extensive and long-lasting underground fires. By 1924 the forest had
In 1934 the West Virginia Power and Transmission Company granted the state Conservation Commission a ten-year lease on 446 acres, and a state park was established in 1937. CCC workers began reforestation programs, but it was not until the 1950s, when the power company donated 935 acres, that permanent structures of any consequence were begun. The fifty-five-room lodge, stone on the first floor, wood sided on the second, is the centerpiece. Completed in 1957, the long T-shaped building has a short “stem” that overlooks the south rim of the gorge. Expansive gables and stained siding provide a slight alpine air. The same can be said of the twenty-five cabins opened in 1956. Of wood-frame construction with stained siding and natural stone chimneys, these are scattered about the woods in several clusters.