Hawks Nest State Park, named after the osprey, or fish hawks, that used to inhabit the cliffs, is a peak on Gauley Mountain that overlooks the New River Gorge in Anstead, WV. Old Native American trails passed through Hawks Nest, followed later by settlers in stage coaches on the same roads, and those same routes are now designated as US Route 60 and known as the Midland Trail.
In 1927, a nearby hydro electric project known as the Hawk’s Nest Incident began constructing a 3 mile long tunnel. It was filled with silica dust, and many thousands of poor and African American workers were left unprotected and succumbed to silicosis within the next few years.
In addition to this real life tragedy, an overlook called “Lover’s Leap” is surrounded by legendary stories of suicidal lovers who couldn’t be together due to cultural or familial obstacles, most notably, Little Fawn, a Cherokee maiden, and Running dear, a Shawnee brave, who supposedly leapt to their deaths because of family opposition to their marriage.
Needless to say, Hawks Run is rich with history and educational opportunities. Many visitors stop for the spectacular views over looking the New River, but Hawks Nest also features 270 mostly forested acres with trails, picnic areas, spectacular fishing, white water boating, a nature museum, and a 31 room lodge for park visitors to stay in. In 2015, Hawks Run State Park had an economic significance of $8,269,962.