Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Kanawha River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately 97 miles (156 km) long, in the U.S. state of West Virginia. The longest inland waterway in West Virginia, it has formed a significant industrial region of the state since the middle of the 19th century.
It is formed in northwestern Fayette County, approximately 35 mi (56 km) SE of Charleston, by the confluence of the New and Gauley rivers. It flows generally northwest, in a winding course through the Appalachians, past Smithers, Charleston, and St. Albans. It joins the Ohio at Point Pleasant in Mason County.
The river valley contains significant deposits of coal and natural gas. In colonial times, the wildly fluctuating level of the river prevented its use for transportation. The removal of boulders and snags on the lower river in the 1840s allowed navigation, extended after the construction of locks and dams starting in 1875. The river is now navigable to Deepwater, an unincorporated community about 20 miles upriver from Charleston. A thriving chemical industry along its banks provides a significant part of the economy of West Virignia.
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