|New River Gorge National River|
Towns grew up, flourished, and were abandoned once the mines played out. In the southern stretches, where the river is receptively quiet in a broad floodplain, farming developed as a way of life devoid of the coalfield strife, providing its own contribution to Southern Appalachian culture.
The river, too, has served as a migration route for plants and animals as well as people. Some of West Virginia's rarest plants are found in the area. The New River and its gorge together present a majestic display of natural forces. The gorge remained almost inaccessible along its entire length until the railroad opened this isolated part of West Virginia in 1873. The railroad followed the riverbank and made possible the shipment of coal to the outside world. At one time, company men clashed with miners in now-famous disputes that defined American labor history.
Today 53 miles of this river and its gorge and 40 miles of it's tributaries are preserved as the New River Gorge National River , Gauley River National Recreation Area , and Bluestone National Scenic River, all of which are units of the National Park System.