the courthouse in Parsons is pictured at left, and a historical marker about the court case Williams v. Board of Education is at right

The Coketon Colored School

Located along the North Fork outside of Thomas, the Coketon Colored School was a two room school house that played an important role in West Virginia’s civil rights history. The town of coketon was named after “coke”, the coal-based fuel product that was the town’s major export. A small African American community formed around coal […]



Hellbenders are the largest aquatic salamander in the United States, regularly reaching up to a foot in length. Hellbenders “breathe” through their skin, which makes them sensitive to water quality issues and the species has declined due to water quality degradation and habitat loss. Hellbenders rarely leave the water, and are active mostly at night, […]

two pipes discharge water into the North Fork

Watershed Based Plans

In order to do watershed remediation work in West Virginia, organizations must have a watershed based plan that has been approved by the Department of Environmental Protection. There are many different elements that go in to a watershed based plan including: -A description of the watershed, its geography, geology, and existing land uses -Identification of […]

people sitting at an overlook at Pipestem State Park

The Business of Recreation

Outdoor recreation is big business, and it depends on public lands. Every year, over 7 million people visit West Virginia’s State Parks and State Forests, adding between $160 million and $190 million in fresh revenue to local economies. Outside of the 400 full time and 1000 seasonal employees that work directly for State Parks and […]

historic photo of a logging camp near Davis in 1886

Book Review: A Gunfight in Parsons

Ronald Lewis, a distinguished historian from West Virginia University, has written a colorful new book that tells an exciting tale of human conflict from the early days of Tucker County’s timber industry. The central incident in Lewis’ book, “The Industrialist and the Mountaineer,” published by West Virginia University Press, is a “Wild-West-style” gunfight in Parsons […]

large group of teachers holding signs protesting on the steps of the WV state capitol

History Day at the Legislature 2018

On February 22nd, historical organizations from across the state gathered in the capitol building in Charleston to celebrate West Virginia’s rich history. Although there were many unique signs and artifacts on display, the history gathering was partly overshadowed by the first day of the teacher’s strike. With all 55 counties represented, the strike was historic […]

water quality monitoring using a sensor on a small stream impaired by acid mine drainage

March 2018 Watershed Update

North Fork of the Blackwater Pop quiz: what is red and white and weighs 400 pounds? No, it’s not the world’s largest candy cane.  It’s the DAILY weight of dissolved iron and aluminum in the acid mine drainage (“AMD”) that is coming out of the underground “Coketon Mine Pool” (old collapsed and abandoned mine workings) […]

view of Douglas Falls from above

Acid Mine Drainage

The water cycle is simple: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration — and repeat.  Simple, but only part of the story.  Thanks to legacy left behind from coal mining, the water in our Blackwater River can become far more than simply a mix of hydrogen and oxygen.  Here’s how: The Upper Freeport coal seam dips downhill towards […]