Conley Hill

Conley Hill rises beyond the mouth of the New River at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia.
Conley Hill rises beyond the mouth of the New River Gorge at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia.

Conley Hill, in Fayette County, is a prominent hill that overlooks the confluence of the New and Gauley rivers, which join at its foot to form the Kanawha River.

By the late 1700s, a trans-Allegheny travel route had been opened along the river by the Commonwealth of Virginia, bridging the Gauley River at Gauley Bridge and linking Tidewater Virginia with the Ohio Valley.

Conley Hill rises above the Town of Gauley Bridge, c. 1910.
Conley Hill rises behind Gauley Bridge, c. 1910.

The Union established a fortified camp on Conley Hill during the Civil War to protect the Gauley bridge, which was destroyed twice during the conflict. During the war, the hill was timbered, and it was long thereafter maintained in pasture, earning it the name “The Sugarloaf,” for it resembled a rounded, conical mound of the kind into which sugar was then often molded.

The hill was named for entrepreneur Charles A. Conley, who moved to the region in the early 1900s and acquired the summit. His homeplace sits on the lower slope of the summit above the Town of Gauley Bridge. Conley served as sheriff and established many commercial buildings in the town.

The hill is a summit in the Cumberland Mountains region of southwestern West Virginia, a mountain chain known for its steep flanked landforms.

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