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

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 […]

volunteers who have been cleaning up the historic roundhouse foundation along the rail trail

Volunteers Clean Up Historic Site

On September 22nd, a volunteer event organized by Friends of Blackwater, in partnership with the Forest Service, improved the visibility of the historic roundhouse foundation, located along the Blackwater Canyon rail trail near Thomas. The roundhouse was once used to turn trains arriving in Thomas around and send them back down the canyon. All that […]


The JR Clifford Play

Friends of Blackwater’s J.R. Clifford Project organized plays dramatizing the court case that brought equality in education to West Virginia. The video below features some of those performances. The case was brought by schoolteacher Carrie Williams, who demanded that her African American students got the same length school year as white students. J.R. Clifford, a […]


A New Home For Liberty

Friends of Blackwater presented a series of historical plays about the founding of the state of West Virginia, as part of our J.R. Clifford Project. The video below shows some highlights from the performances. The “New Home for Liberty” plays highlight the important role that civil rights and anti-slavery advocates played in the creation of […]

performer Doug Wood as explorer Gabriel Arthur

Gabriel Arthur

On September 2nd, Friends of Blackwater is sponsoring a living history presentation focused on the early West Virginia explorer Gabriel Arthur. If you don’t know anything about this historical figure, you can catch up now. Gabriel Arthur is believed to be the first white person to see the Kanawha Valley in 1674. The previous year, […]