The moving human stories and historic artifacts of the Blackwater region are a colorful and inspiring part of today’s vibrant culture.

Friends of Blackwater is installing interpretive signs along the Blackwater Canyon rail grade, explaining historical structures associated with the railroad, the coal and coke industry, and the communities of the Canyon.

We also operate the J.R. Clifford Project, which since 2004 has celebrated the history of civil rights in West Virginia by highlighting local heroes.

To get more details about our history projects and see the latest signs, click the button below.

beginning of history hike at B&L

Latest News


New Historic Marker Debuts in Hendricks

On August 4th, a small crowd gathered on the Blackwater Canyon Rail Grade in Hendricks to see a new historic marker unveiled. The marker explains the history of the railroad, once an important route for the timber and coal industries, as well as a major connection between the mountain and valley towns. The steepness of […]


History Volunteer Day September 22nd

Friends of Blackwater is partnering with the Forest Service to clean up historic sites along the Blackwater Canyon rail grade on September 22nd. Meet at the Friends of Blackwater office, in the Buxton and Landstreet building at 10 a.m. to get started. We will provide some hand tools and gloves, but make sure to wear […]


Henry Gassaway Davis

Henry Gassaway Davis was an early industrialist and politician who helped shape West Virginia history. Born in 1823, Davis came from humble origins, and did not get a formal education beyond elementary school. After a youth spent working as a farmhand, he joined the Baltimore and Ohio railroad  at the age of 19, saving his […]


Hendricks History

Featured image: Street scene in Hendricks, circa 1910 The first settler arrived in what is now the town of Hendricks in 1803, when a Revolutionary War soldier named Henry Fansler made his homestead there. The town was not incorporated until 1894, and is named for Thomas Andrew Hendricks, who was the vice-president at the time […]


Travelling 219: The Carrie Williams Civil Rights Trial

A few years back, the radio program Travelling 219 visited Tucker County to learn about the history of the Carrie Williams case, a trail that set the precedent for equal education in West Virginia. Listen below for this short radio story. You can hear Friends of Blackwater board member Tom Rodd telling part of the […]

DePollo's Store in Thomas, circa 1914

Tucker County’s Immigrant History

For those who couldn’t make it to the July 1st lecture on immigrant history, we’ve put together some of the key information. Thank you to Prof. Gorby and his students, Corey Ptaszek, Elena Dugan, Matthew Tenaglio, and Ashton Wilson for their great research.   In 1916, Tucker County had the highest proportion of foreign-born residents […]

historic photo of railroad workers near Hendricks in 1923

Immigrant History Lecture a Success

On July 1st, over 70 people packed Cottrill’s Opera House to learn about the history of immigration in Tucker County. The lecture, sponsored by Friends of Blackwater, was led by Professor Hal Gorby of West Virginia University, who has worked with his students to digitize oral history recordings from north central West Virginia, including first-hand […]

historic photo of JR Clifford and other attendees of the Niagara Conference

Who was J.R. Clifford?

John Robert Clifford was West Virginia’s first African-American attorney, a newspaper publisher, editor and writer, a schoolteacher and principal, a civil rights pioneer, a founding member of the Niagara Movement (forerunner to the NAACP), a Civil War veteran, and a graduate of Storer College. Clifford was born in 1848, near what is now Moorefield, West […]

history hike participants admiring new sign

New Signs Debut

On May 26th, Friends of Blackwater unveiled 5 new historic interpretive signs near the town of Thomas. These signs help bring to life the industrial heyday of Tucker County, when the railroad helped create an economic boom and connected rural West Virginia to the rest of the country. We celebrated with a guided tour, led […]