Historical Archaeological Survey: New River Gorge National River and Gauley River National Recreation Area


This study was undertaken to assess the nature of historical archaeological resources within New River Gorge National River (NERI) and Gauley River National Recreation Area (GARI). Specifically the goals of this study were to (1) document the location, condition, and research potential of a sample of historical archaeological sites within NERI and GARI; (2) conduct limited exploratory archeological investigations of representative historic sites; (3) create sites descriptions, maps and summarize other data (historic maps and photographs, archival records, and secondary resources) relating to these sites; and (4) identify research questions that these historic and other historic resources located in NERI and GARI have the potential to address.

Based on an examination of 20 archaeological sites in the NERI and 15 archaeological sites in the GARI, it is clear that both parks contain a wealth of historic archaeological resources. These sites include, coal towns, lumber towns, farmsteads, houses, cemeteries, schools, transportation related properties, and one possible logging operation and one hospital. Many of the sites in NERI contained multiple property types. Of particular importance are those sites that are the remains of late nineteenth-early twentieth century coal, lumber mining towns and farmsteads. All of these resources represent a slice of the history of not only the New River Gorge and Gauley River, but the growth of the nation. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw some of the most sweeping changes in the nation’s history through the rise of transportation systems, technology, and industrialization which is preserved in the archaeological record in both the NERI and GARI.

A number of recommendations were developed as a result of the study. The majority of the sites are potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and should be protected with all available means. In order to better define the nature and extent of the archaeological resources, and to collect sufficient information in order to determine eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, it is recommended that a more intensive archaeological survey of the sites be undertaken in conjunction with an historical assessment and cultural landscape inventories. Depending on the results of those surveys, more intense archaeological investigations may be necessary. It is also recommended that public programming be developed for both parks. A multitude of activities can be incorporated into a comprehensive educational program, including site specific interpretative signage, brochures, booklets, public activities including, cultural heritage days, archaeology weekends, curriculum for local teachers. All of this can help preserve the important and dynamic history of the parks.

Cite this Record

Historical Archaeological Survey: New River Gorge National River and Gauley River National Recreation Area. Lori Stahlgren, Meagan Jones, Rick Burdin, Brian Mabelitini. KAS Report ,143. Kentucky: The University of Kentucky, The Kentucky Heritage Council. 2007 ( tDAR id: 372161) ; doi:10.6067/XCV84X56P1

Spatial Coverage

min long: -81.12; min lat: 37.844 ; max long: -80.986; max lat: 37.903 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): David Fuerst

Principal Investigator(s): David Pollack

Prepared By(s): Kentucky Archaeological Survey

File Information

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