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The Little Kanawha River is a tributary of the Ohio River, 169 mi (269 km) long, in western West Virginiamarker in the United Statesmarker. Via the Ohio, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, draining an area of 2,320 mi² (6,009 km²) on the unglaciated portion of the Allegheny Plateau. It served as an important commercial water route in the early history of West Virginia, particularly in the logging and petroleum industries.


The Little Kanawha rises in southern Upshur Countymarker, approximately 20 mi (32 km) south of Buckhannonmarker. It follows a meandering course generally west-northwestwardly, through Lewismarker, Braxtonmarker, Gilmermarker, Calhounmarker, Wirtmarker and Woodmarker Counties, past the towns of Burnsvillemarker, Sand Forkmarker, Glenvillemarker, Grantsvillemarker, Palestinemarker and Elizabethmarker, to its mouth at the Ohio River in Parkersburgmarker.

About 3 mi (5 km) upstream of Burnsville, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam causes the river to form Burnsville Lakemarker, which was completed in 1976 at a cost of $56.2 million.


The Little Kanawha's largest tributary is the Hughes River, which flows into it near the Wirt County community of Newark, approximately 12 mi (19 km) southeast of Parkersburg. Other tributaries include the headwaters stream Right Fork Little Kanawha River, which flows along the boundaries of Upshur, Lewis and Webstermarker Counties.; and the West Fork Little Kanawha River, which rises in southern Calhoun County and flows northwestwardly along the boundary of Roane Countymarker to the Wirt County community of Creston. Additionally, a minor tributary near Grantsville is known as the Bull River; despite being named as a "river," it is no larger than dozens of other small streams that flow into the Little Kanawha.

Variant names

According to the Geographic Names Information System, the Little Kanawha River has also been known as:
  • Fishing Creek
  • Little Canawha River
  • Little Canhawa River
  • Little Conaway River
  • Little Cunnaway River
  • Little Kanahaway River
  • Little Kanahwa River
  • Little Kanahway River
  • Little Kanawah River
  • Little Kanhaway River
  • Little Kanhawey River
  • Little Kawahwa River
  • Little Kenawah
  • Little Kenhawa
  • Little Kenhaway
  • Little Kennaway River
  • Nau-mis-sip-pia
  • Newmissipi
  • O-mom-go-how-ce-pe
  • O-nim-go-how

See also

External links


  1. Gilchrist-Stalnaker, Joy Gregoire. 2006. "Little Kanawha River." The West Virginia Encyclopedia. Ken Sullivan, editor. Charleston, WV: West Virginia Humanities Council. ISBN 0-9778498-0-5.
  2. Willis, Todd C. (ed.) 1987. "Length of rivers and watershed areas in West Virginia." West Virginia Blue Book. Vol. 71.
  3. "Little Kanawha once was vital transportation link," Parkersburg News & Sentinel website
  4. DeLorme (1997). West Virginia Atlas & Gazetteer. Yarmouth, Maine: DeLorme. ISBN 0-89933-246-3.
  5. Burnsville Lake website, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  6. Hohmann, George. "Lock offered combination for growth." Charleston Daily Mail. 15 June 1999.
  7. Columbia Gazetteer of North America entry for Little Kanawha River

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