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

cleaned up engine house

Engine House Clean up

Thank you to all of the volunteers and Forest Service partners who participated in our historic Engine House clean up this past Saturday! We cut down large brush, cleared out mats of tangled invasive grasses, created a path from the Blackwater Rail Trail to the foundation, and cleaned up the existing signage so that these […]


New Hire: Sean Coffers!

Hello Friends of Blackwater community! I am Sean Coffers, and I am so excited to be joining Friends of Blackwater. I’m a West Virginia native, originally from the Morgantown area. I’ve just returned to my home state after 8 years in New Jersey and New York. I have a mixed background in teaching and working […]

cleaned up ovens

Coke Oven Cleanup- Success!

Thank you to everyone who joined us on August 24th to clean up the historic Coke Ovens along the Rail Trail! We had wonderful weather Saturday morning, and were able to do lots of mowing, clipping, chopping, and cleaning around the Coke Ovens, making them much more accessible to visitors and visible from the Rail […]

exterior view 1

Engineering Building Listed as Endangered

The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV) has announced that the Davis Coal and Coke Company Administrative Building just south of Thomas has been recognized as a significant endangered historic building. This building served as the Tucker County headquarters of the company founded by the legendary railroad and coal magnate Senator Henry Gassaway Davis from […]

exterior DC&C building with B&L in background

Big News for Historic Engineering Building

Across the street from our office sits the former Davis Coal and Coke Company engineering building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its important role in the history of industry in the area. When the coal industry was booming, miners from Thomas, Douglas, and other surrounding towns would have […]

Art Reception and History Talk

Thank you to everyone who attended our history talk and art reception this Saturday, at the Buxton and Landstreet building! The event started off with a brief talk about the history of the Buxton and Landstreet building and the adjacent Davis Coal and Coke Company administrative building, by Judy Rodd. The Buxton and Landstreet Company […]

tucker trial lecture 1

Tucker County Trials Lecture

On May 23rd at the Cottrill Opera House, guest lecturer Tom Rodd told stories from notable cases in Tucker County’s legal history. The historic space of the former theater made a great venue, and we want to thank the ArtSpring team for letting us use the space. One of the key cases covered was Williams […]


History Day at the Legislature

On February 21st, Friends of Blackwater participated in History Day at the West Virginia legislature. In honor of Black History Month, we highlighted our J.R. Clifford Project and the history of civil rights in West Virginia. It was great to meet with so many history enthusiasts, and we gave out many copies of our J.R. […]


J.R. Clifford Site Update Complete

We have completed our update of the J.R. Clifford project website. Although the content of the website has remained largely the same, we’ve fixed all of the broken links and updated the look of the site. Although those are the main changes that will be visible to the public, behind the scenes the new content […]


J.R. Clifford Website Being Rebuilt

Our J.R. Clifford Project was founded in 2004 to highlight the history of pioneering African American attorney J.R. Clifford and other West Virginia civil rights leaders. As part of the project we put on plays, produced educational materials, and held public events. In recent years, the J.R. Clifford Project has been less active, and the […]