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Cheat Mountain, Pocahontas County, West Virginia
Cheat Mountain in the Distance
“Of Men and a Mighty Mountain”
“I am a mighty mountain. I rise above the others and look down upon their crowns. When you see me from below I seem to shoulder out the sky. For more than half a hundred miles I stretch my length. Five miles across my top spreads, holding between its double row of peaks its own private valley. There, cradled in eternal green, my own river flows. I am rough. I am cold. Men call me Cheat.” ~ W.E. Blackhurst, 1965
Early History of Appalachia
Legends abound as to the naming origins of Cheat Mountain. Old Appalachian tales passed down from generation to generation among the mountain folk hint as to various beliefs. Some believe the name derived from the Delaware Lenape Indians who referred to the nearby "Stony River" or "Cheat River" after French Indian Explorer by the name of Cheat or Chaet.
Other folks believe the name took on meaning due to the treacherous mountainous landscape, which had 'cheated' so many lives during the hostilities of the French and Indian War, American Civil War, and also the great Logging Era of the late 1900s and early Twentieth Century.
Legendary, in deed. When seen in the distance amidst rising haze and billowing clouds that hang low, one might think of a mystical place as did hundreds of Union Soldiers during the Civil War, who once marched down the Ohio River Valley and for the first time, saw a mountain's majesty. One could only imagine the awe-inspiring and frightening sight those flat-land Northern inhabitants must have beheld.
Tales of woe, treachery, and unsolved mysteries are mused among the folk people. Whispered sightings of the legendary Black Panther, long deemed extinct though its presence purportedly crops up here and there along with tales of phantoms of the dark, the sounds of rattling wagon wheels, lowing of oxen, and an army of footsteps pounding the earth yet unseen by the human eye. Or the far away whistle of a phantom train ...
Morning Sunrise on the Cheat
Allegheny Mountain Range
The Alleghenies run about 400 miles, extending from North Central Pennsylvania, down through the pan-handle of Maryland, into Eastern West Virginia and South West Virginia. Part of the greater Appalachian Mountain Range, the mountain chain rises to its highest peaks in West Virginia, scaling over 4,800 feet.
At one time, the Alleghenies referred to the entirety of the Appalachian Mountains, including those that ran into Georgia and Tennessee. and also referred to as "Appalachia"
Cheat Mountain's highest point is the Thorny Flat which peaks at (4,848 ft/1478 m) known as the second highest peak just shy of topping Spruce Knob (4,863 ft/1,482 m) located on Spruce Mountain, which rises at the overall highest known point in the Alleghenies.
During the Civil War, Bierce served with the Union Army's 9th Indiana Infantry where he participated in the Western Virginia war front, seeing plenty of action on and around Cheat Mountain, he eventually participated in the Battle of Shiloh, which later, the experience triggered his prolific writing career. Well known for his anthology masterpieces such as "What I saw at Shiloh" and his greatest known work "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"
A Writer's Memorable Reflection "On a Mountain"
"The flatlanders who invaded the Cheat Mountain country had been suckled in another creed, and to them western Virginia--there was, as yet, no West Virginia--was an enchanted land. How we reveled in its savage beauties! With what pure delight we inhaled its fragrances of spruce and pine! How we stared with something like awe at its clumps of laurel!--real laurel, as we understood the matter, whose foliage had been once accounted excellent for the heads of illustrious Romans and such--mayhap to reduce the swelling. We carved its roots into finger-rings and pipes. We gathered spruce-gum and sent it to our sweethearts in letters. We ascended every hill within our picket-lines and called it a peak ..."
~ Ambrose Bierce
Earliest Stages of the Civil War
Confederate and Union Occupation - Position and Advancement
Civil War Waged on Cheat Mountain
“They do not know what they say. If it came to a conflict of arms, the war will last at least four years. Northern politicians will not appreciate the determination and pluck of the South, and Southern politicians do not appreciate the numbers, resources, and patient perseverance of the North. Both sides forget that we are all Americans. I foresee that our country will pass through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation, perhaps, for our national sins.” ~ Robert E. Lee
Wise words spoken by a man who would eventually become the Commanding General of the Confederate Army and first to lead his troops into battle on an isolated high mountain peak known as Cheat Mountain Summit. The opposition, Brigadier General William Rosecrans, Commander of the Army of the Potomac and along with the enemy, a mix of torrential rain, fog, dense forest and mountainous terrain. Lee's intent was to enclose the Union garrison which camped on top of Cheat Mountain, but the attack failed, having been given weak scouting information from prisoners and lack of communication between Confederate commands. Lee was forced to retreat, losing his first battle and leaving Rosecrans holding Cheat Mountain.
The battle took place in September of 1861, having lasted for three days with limited loss of life and having no major effect on either campaign or the war but marked its beginning in a series of battles yet to take place within the Appalachian region.
Reforestation of Red Spruce
Enchanted Forest on Cheat Mountain
Flora & Fauna of Cheat Mountain
Monongahela Barbara's Buttons
Cheat Mountain Salamander
Kate's Mountain Clover
Candy Darter Fish
Fauna & Flora Resources
Cheat Mountain Salamander
Cheat Mountain and Other Locales of Interest
Cass Scenic Railroad
Places of Interest Near Cheat Mountain
Which Pocahontas County Destination Would You Prefer to Visit?
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