Sinks of Gandy

Inside the Sinks of Gandy

The Sinks of Gandy is a cave near Osceola, West Virginia, in eastern Randolph County, through which Gandy Creek tunnels. A journey through the “sinks” is a favorite rite of passage for many naturalists and beginning cavers, especially on hot summer days. The sinks are located on private property within the Potomac Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest.

Gandy Creek travels some 3,000 feet through the sinks as it passes under a spur of Yokum Knob, a summit in the Allegheny Mountains. Its upstream entrance is about 30 feet wide and 15 feet high. The tunnel is principally a single long passage from 4 to 35 feet high with a few minor side-passages. The main passage averages 40 to 60 feet wide though in some places opens to nearly 100 feet wide. In many places the creek fills the entire floor of the passage and in others is confined to a narrow trench. Its downstream entrance is offset by about 100 feet to the east of the creek’s channel, which exits through boulders.

Both entrances to the Sinks of Gandy are located on private land. The upstream entrance is owned by the Teter family; the downstream, by the Tingler family. Its location is not identified on any signage in the area, but access is permitted by the property owners.

Most visitors can pass through the sinks safely with simple household flashlights. Wading is required through Gandy Creek to complete the route. Some visitors have difficulty finding the dry downstream entrance, which turns off the right about 200 feet before the lower exit and so return through the upstream entrance.

Gandy Creek and the Sinks of Gandy were named for Uriah Gandy (or Gandee) who settled in the area around 1781. The earliest recorded reference to the sinks may be a 1833 letter sent by physician Benjamin Dolbeare to the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society in which he described its location:

“Between, what is here called, the Aleghany and Rich Mountains, heads a branch of the dry fork a tributary of Cheat River, a ridge extends itself quiet across, from one mountain to the other, and this branc, after keeping its course about 3 miles runs under this ridge which about ¾ of mile wide at its base, and very high.”

The Sinks of Gandy was first publicized by David Hunter Strother in Harper’s Magazine in 1872 and 1873.

In the 1960s, state road maps began to replace the designation of “Osceola” with “The Sinks,” hoping to encourage tourism. The Sinks of Gandy may be mapped on the Fallout 76 video game.