River on the Rocks is a story told in the tradition of Bill Byrne’s Tale Of The Elk, and may be seen as a modern-day counterpart of that classic.
The first recorded white settler on Birch was English Bill Dodrill, an occasional companion of Daniel Boone. English Bill came to the upper part of the river near Boggs in 1799 when that area was still a wilderness. Truth to tell, there aren’t many more people living on Birch now than was the case, say, one hundred years ago.
The title of this book reflects the geologic gift that makes West Virginia’s Birch River unique: its large collection of rocks on an eight mile stretch in Nicholas and Braxton Counties. To celebrate this uniqueness, a number of rocks were “weighed,” and the largest topped the scales at two thousand and twenty five tons!
River birches, with their crinkly and peeling bark, are found all along the stream, particularly on lower Birch where they form a canopy. It must have been that way two hundred and seven years ago when those eighteenth century surveyors gave the river its fitting name.
J.M. Hutchinson, an early Nicholas County historian, wrote that “in the records of a survey of 100,000 acres made by Tabithia McKinley in 1794, they called the river Birch, and it has since gone by that name.”
About the author:
Skip Johnson was born on Birch River in Herold, West Virginia and lived there till shortly before his death in 2011. He retired in 1992 as outdoor columnist and reporter for the Charleston Gazette. In 1993, he wrote Woods and Waters, a collection of outdoor stories.