Adventure Blog

How The Cabins Got Their Names

Lodging Thumbnail Adventures on the Gorge

Ever wonder why the cabin you stayed in has a unique name? Our cabins all have a story behind their names rich in history and West Virginia heritage.

Cabins on the Gorge

Pillow Rock

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  • The name was mainly due to the pillowing off the Room-of-Doom house rock, the downriver pillow rock is just a bonus.
  • Maybe more than any other rapid on this river, Pillow Rock can seem intimidating. You can see the rock down there, and you know it’s reputation. The ride gets faster, and more physical as it continues, until it dumps you into a trough known as “the Toilet Bowl.”
  • The breakdown with Pillow Rock is that a large portion of the river slams against a house-sized rock on river left–Pillow Rock–creating a huge pillow, rebounds off, and slithers around another huge rock down below known as Volkswagen.
  • The potential for flipping is enormous, but the actual danger is quite low.

Woods Ferry

  • Named for the Woods Ferry Rapid of the Gauley River.
  • Woods Ferry is a shallow rapid with large ledge pour-overs on river-left, “PJ’s Hole” just right of center, and at the bottom, “Julie’s Juicer”, a twisting hydraulic flowing off the left side of a large rock in the center of the river.
  • This has replaced the Mason Branch takeout for many paddlers on the Upper Gauley. Using the Wood’s Ferry takeout, the paddler avoids the torturous hike up the Mason Branch trail; however, the shuttle is considerably longer.
  • You can also use the put in/takeout on river right at Woods Ferry if you want to “sample” just part of the Middle Gauley. It is also possible to put in on river left just below Woods Ferry and take out on river left just below Junkyard. This way you still get the lower 2-3 miles of the Middle Gauley as well as the first 3 rapids on the Lower Gauley.

Ledges

  • Named for Diagonal Ledges Rapid of the Gauley River
  • This rapid flows over some smooth, shallow shelf rock. These ledges are angled compared to the direction of the current, which give the rapid its name. One of the best kayak surfs on the entire Gauley River is located at the top of the rapid and has nice return eddy service for hours of entertainment.
  • Diagonal Ledges waves are located directly below Lower Mash rapid on the Lower Gauley and is about halfway through the Lower Gauley run. There is a series of waves before the main wave (which is actually the last wave) that are quite surfable. They are big glassy waves with nice eddies on the surfers’ right side, but these waves are usually overlooked in favor of the main wave. There is excellent eddy access to the right of the surfer on the main wave making for “drop-in” style surfs. This eddy will hold up to about 20 boaters. There are, on average, 10-15+ boaters waiting in line at any given time.

Lost Paddle

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  • Named for the Lost Paddle rapid of the Gauley River.
  • Historically this was a strategic location on the river, particularly during the Civil War, as one of the few places the river could be safely crossed.
  • This very long series of rapids consists of the 3 drops of Lost Paddle (4 at low levels) and the boiling, twisting drops of Tumblehome at the bottom.
  • During the trip dedicated to naming the Gauley’s rapids, crew member Barb Brown’s paddle was launched from her grip in the class V rapid just below the confluence with the Meadow River. Brown swam in the chaotic rapid and her paddle was lost. The team searched for an hour, knowing that not being able to find the paddle would mean an end to the trip. Years later, Brown’s paddle was found with her name engraved on it and it was returned to her, but by then, the name Lost Paddle had been imprinted in the legend of the Gauley.

Initiation

  • Named for the first rapid of the Gauley River.
  • What makes this rapid even more sinister is the inviting surf wave at the top. The wave has a slight right diagonal that would appear to send a surfer into a large and deceptive eddy. What is not obvious are the hidden black rocks on the right end of the wave. These will sometimes catch the surfer and pivot the boat directly into the sieve. Do not even think about surfing this top wave; avoid this hazard by taking the safe route down river left. There are numerous excellent play spots as you continue downstream.
  • This rapid was named for being the Initiation to the Gauley River, this could mean it was your initiation to a great river day or your initiation to a hard river day depending on your safety precautions.

Heaven Help Us

  • The name comes from Heaven Help You rapid or Heaven’s Gate rapid of the Gauley River.
  • Just downstream of the Diagonal Ledges rapid is Gateway to Heaven (also called Heaven’s Gates or Heaven Help You). The preferred line to raft this rapid is between the big rock just left of center and the ledge on river right.
  • This rapid features a long wave train leading to a narrow “gate” between a large rock and a dangerous pour-over at the bottom.

Canyon Doors

  • The name comes from the Canyon Doors Rapid of the Gauley River
  • The rapid is named for the vertical openings in the canyon wall on river right.
  • The major rapid after Koontz Flume is Canyon Doors. It In a slight bend on the river with beautiful rock cliffs on the right. There are a couple of big rocks in the middle of the river with most of the flow going to the right.
  • The eddy behind the rocks is a nice resting spot before deciding how to run the rest of the rapid. At levels around 1000-1500 cfs there are some great surfing waves between the rocks and the river right shoreline.

Sweet Falls

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  • The name comes from the Sweets Falls rapid of the Gauley River.
  • Sweet’s Fall is the last of the big rapids on the Upper Gauley and is considered the easiest by the guides that run it regularly.
  • Named on the 1969 Gauley trip, Sweet’s Falls was a tribute to John Sweet’s first descent of the falls. During the descent at 1,200 cfs, the rapid was a steep, vertical drop, and after a deliberate scout the rest of the crew decided to run a sneak line around the drop, according to Stuart. Sweet had no trouble in the drop but dubbed it a class VI. It was years before the falls were regularly run.

Mash

  • The name comes from the Upper and Lower Mash rapids of the Gauley River.
  • The Mash rapids are a complex boulder garden leading down to a swift flush, big breaking wave, and pinning rocks.
  • Before you reach the Mash rapids, you can enjoy a mostly calm stretch of scenery for about 2 miles. The land here is nearly untouched, aside from the one mostly quiet train track winding alongside the waterway. An old rail trestle hints at a past, more vibrant life for this region, marked by coal and lumber commerce.
  • The calmness here is truly a thing of wonder. Sit back and take it in while you can, because the Mashes are looming on the horizon, ready to shake some adrenaline back into this journey.

Iron Curtain

Ironring
  • The name comes from the Iron Curtain rapid of the Gauley River.
  • This rapid is named after the adjacent cliff face, which has a red
  • due to the iron content in the rock.
  • As the river makes a 90 degree left turn this rapid is right around the corner. Follow the wave train and watch out for the big undercut rock at the bottom of the rapid.
  • Recognizable by a rust-colored stain in the cliffs high above the river, this is just a big-ol’ wave train.

Backender

  • The name comes from the Backender rapid of the Gauley River.
  • The last major rapid on the Middle Gauley is Backender. It is difficult to scout unless you like to climb over the large boulders on river right. You will know that you are approaching Backender when you see the huge rock spire on river right. The takeout is in the pool just above the rock spire.
  • This is a powerful hundred yard long rapid with a steep gradient and narrow channel. The widest entrance is on the right side of the river. A move to the left after entering the rapid will put you on the wave train and keep you away from the undercuts that line the right bank.

Koontz Flume

  • The name comes from the Koontz Flume rapid of the Gauley River.
  • Just downstream of Back Ender Rapid, you will pass under a dilapidated cable foot bridge, and at this point you’ll know that you are approaching the first Class V rapid in the Lower Gauley Canyon, Koontz Flume.
  • After a short warm-up with a few small play waves, you will see a huge rock on River right and the river will drop out of sight. That is Koontz Flume, the first of several class IV/IV+ rapids on the Lower G.
  • Easily identifiable by an enormous undercut boulder clearly visible for a half mile or more upstream.

Outback Cabins

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Ender Waves

  • Named for the Ender Waves Rapid of the New River.
  • Alternate name for the second rapids of the Warm-Up Rapids series of the New River.
  • From a shallow entrance, the water in this rapid converges into a great roller coaster wave train at the bottom. The widest entrance is on the left but stay out of the rocks on the far-left side to avoid a sieve.
  • Most of the time, Ender Waves is an easy, straightforward ride. But when the water levels are just right, it becomes a wall of water. It can be a force to be reckoned with and even if you reckon right, you may end up in for a swim.

Greyhound

  • This cabin is named after the Greyhound Bus Stopper Rapid on the Lower New River.
  • The rapid is named after the river wide hole that forms at high water which is as big as a Greyhound Bus.
  • This cataract on the lower New River is created by an outcrop of bedrock just beneath the water’s surface. In such cases, the shallow bottom accelerates the river’s flow. A similar outcropping results in the Lower Keeneys Rapids and Lower Railroad Rapids. Outcrops of the bedrock are visible along the banks.
  • The Greyhound Bus Stopper Rapids are located less than a tenth of a mile below Hook 99 Rapids near the upstream end of the ruins of Kaymoor.

Surprise

  • Named for the Surprise Rapid of the New River
  • This rapid’s name is fairly self-explanatory, in that it tells you that something surprising is about to happen. Even looking at this rapid up-close, it’s hard to see what is so surprising about it. At the right levels, the deep, pulsing hole formed by a rock is fairly innocent looking until the raft drops into it. Surprise rapid is great at reminding paddlers that this is a wild river and not an amusement park ride.
  • This Class III rapid in the New River Gorge is the first major rapid many first-time rafters encounter: as the upper New River whitewater-rafting segment is the gentlest, most first-timers paddle it first. The rapid is called “surprise” because it is hardly visible upstream, though a large hole is located below Surprise — large enough to stand rafts on their ends during some flows.

Keeneys

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  • This cabin is named for the Keeney’s Rapids of the new river.
  • The Keeney’s rapids are a group of three rapids, and sometimes call the Keeney’s Brothers rapids.
  • Upper Keeney is the first of 3 rapids. At higher water this rapid and the next two form one long, continuous rapid.
  • Middle Keeney is huge at high water. If you swim here catch an eddy so you don’t swim the Meat Grinder in Lower Keeney.
  • The top of Lower Keeney on the right side is the Meat Grinder which has undercut rocks and is sieved out. These were blasted out to create the railroad and are very dangerous.

Dudley’s Dip

  • This cabin is named for the Dudley’s Dip rapid of the New River.
  • This rapid is marked by a large rock that looks like an upside-down canoe from up stream. The rock is undercut but easy to avoid. Start right of center and work left to set up for the “Dip”, then stay to the right to clear it.
  • This rapid on the Lower New River is formed from rock debris which has crept slowly down the canyon walls and washed into the New River.
  • The rapids are located just downstream of the site of the ghost town of Nuttallburg, on river-right, and just upstream of that of Kaymoor, on river-left. Cut-stone bridge piers on the banks above the river are remnants of a suspension bridge which once linked Nuttallburg with South Nuttall.

Double Z

  • This cabin is named for the Double Z rapid of the New River.
  • This is the most technical rapid on the New, and one you must run, as there is no easy portage.
  • This rapid is likely formed by debris fallen off the surrounding gorge walls. Double Z is located a half mile downstream of Dudley’s Dip Rapids and just less than a half mile upstream of Hook 99 Rapids.
  • The ruins of Nuttalburg are on river-right at Double Z, though only the remains of the tipple and the suspension bridge to South Nuttall (above Dudley’s Dip Rapids) are immediately evident.

Glade Creek

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  • This cabin is named for the Glade Creek tributary of the new river.
  • Glade Creek is a major tributary of the New River in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Glade Creek lies within the largest side valley off New River in the New River Gorge National River area.
  • This is section is a good intro to creeking, with some cool boulder drops. Mostly bedrock rapids. One ten-foot waterfall about 2/3s of the way down. A nice 4 stage waterfall right above the takeout. There is an old logging road down the river right side, making for easy portages.
  • Much of the lower canyon is traversed by an abandoned railroad bed. Today, this former railbed is now maintained as a hiking trail by New River Gorge National River.

Flea Flicker

  • This cabin is named for the Flea Flicker rapid of the New river.
  • This rapid is formed by the deposition of rock tumbled down the walls of the gorge. Flea Flicker is located a half mile downstream of the Fayette Station Rapids and roughly three quarters of a mile upstream of Ol’ Nasty Rapids.
  • One of the last two rapids before Hawks Nest Lake. Hawks Nest Lake is a 250-acre impoundment on New River in Fayette County, managed as a part of Hawks Nest State Park. The lake was built in 1936 with a maximum depth of 60 feet and an average depth of 25 feet.

Fire Creek

  • Named for the Fire Creek Pool of the New River. This stretch of river may be calm and serene, but the rich history along its banks is intriguing.
  • On river-left, you can see what is left of the abandoned coal town of Red Ash. The island was a quarantine zone during a smallpox epidemic.
  • On the river-right you can find the remnants of Beury, the site of the first coal mine in the New River. Coal baron Joseph Beury built a lavish 23-room mansion along the banks, with a pool, stables, greenhouse, and orchestras often performing on the lawn. After the mines closed and everyone moved from town, only the home’s servant, Melcina Fields, stayed behind. She was the last resident along the New River Gorge.
  • Despite her reputation as a loner, Melcina was very much a part of the community. When she was too old to keep walking to Thurmond for supplies, rail conductors and raft guides brought her what she needed until she passed away in 1982.

Fayette Station

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  • This cabin is named for the Fayette Station rapid of the New River.
  • Fayette Station is the quintessential wave train, churning you right down the middle of the river to the takeout point. It’s the New River’s cheerful congratulations on a trip well-paddled.
  • The famous New River Gorge Bridge is high above the river just downstream.
  • The rapids are a quarter mile downstream of the restored Fayette Station Bridge and a quarter mile upstream of the New River Gorge Bridge. The rapids are nearly three quarters of a mile downstream of Thread-The-Needle. This three-quarter-mile breather allows paddlers time to enjoy the unfolding panorama of the New River Gorge Bridge. The rapids take their name for the station formerly located along the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad at Fayette, WV.

Ol’ Nasty

  • This Cabin is named for Ol’ Nasty Rapid on the New River.
  • The last rapid of the Lower New River Gorge whitewater rafting run, this Class III fall is likely formed by debris fallen from the flanks of the gorge. The rapid is located approximately three quarters of a mile downstream of Flea Flicker Rapids. Beyond Old Nasty, the New River enters Hawks Nest Lake and Hawks Nest State Park, and its whitewater-rafting run ends, though downstream of the lake the river emerges in a diminished form, called “The Drys” which features Class III-V rapids, appropriate only for kayaking.
  • One of the last two rapids before Hawks Nest Lake. Hawks Nest Lake is a 250-acre impoundment on New River in Fayette County, managed as a part of Hawks Nest State Park. The lake was built in 1936 with a maximum depth of 60 feet and an average depth of 25 feet.

Sunnyside

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  • Sunnyside was one of the early mining town established in the New River Gorge about a decade after the completion of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) in 1873. The company town was located between Mile Post 608 and 607 on the C&O mainline on the north side of New River, about 15 miles west of Thurmond.
  • The mining operation at Sunnyside closed sometime around 1911. The USGS map of 1913, surveyed 1911, does not indicate any mines at Sunnyside.
  • Elmo is listed as a variant name of Sunnyside; however, Elmo was a different mining town located about one mile east (upstream) of Sunnyside.
  • The Sunnyside Mine was one of the names included in the acronym AMES (Ajax, Michigan, Elmo, Sunnyside) which leads way to the naming of Ames Heights Road.

Kaymoor

  • Started by the Low Moor Coal Company in the late 1890s, Kaymoor One was one of the largest and most productive coal operations in the gorge. From 1900 to 1962, miners produced 16,904,321 tons of coal from Kaymoor One.
  • Miners came from everywhere to work the mines at Kaymoor – experienced miners from neighboring states, blacks migrating from rural areas in the southeast, and immigrants from southern and eastern European countries.
  • Kaymoor employed more than 800 workers during peak production. Miners were generally paid bimonthly. In December 1902 Kaymoor paid an average of $30.21 each to 321 workers, of which $19.03 was in cash and $11.58 was in scrip (paper or metal substitutes for money, redeemable only at the company store).

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