The Cacapon River, a tributary of the Potomac River, is segmented into two. Its upper course, also known as the Lost River, are divided from its lower course by a ridge beneath which the stream briefly disappears. During dry spells, the Lost River is lost from sight when it flows under Sandy Ridge at “The Sinks.” It emerges as the Cacapon River near Wardensville, WV. By most accounts, the name Cacapon, or Capon, and derived from a native word that meant “medicinal waters.”
The Cacapon River courses 31.1 miles from it re-emergence and drains approximately 178 square miles. Its largest tributary the North River, drains 206 square miles. Its total drainage is 680 square miles. The Cacapon flows north-northeasterly for 112 miles through eastern Hardy County, eastern Hampshire County and western Morgan County.
The lower course of the river in Morgan County flows west of Cacapon Mountain, the site of Cacapon Resort State Park. Sections of the upper river near Capon Lake, Capon Springs, and Wardensville course through the Washington & Jefferson National Forests.
History of the Cacapon River
Lord Thomas Fairfax conveyed much of the watershed’s original land plots from 1748 to 1761, and George Washington surveyed many of the same plots from 1749 to 1761. Washington and his troops constructed the first fort in the chain of defenses on the frontier in 1756 at Great Cacapon, at the mouth of the Cacapon on the Potomac River.
Cacapon River Communities
From source to mouth, the following select towns and villages are located on or near the Cacapon River.
- Wardensville, WV
- Capon Lake, WV
- Capon Springs, WV (on Capon Springs Run)
- Yellow Spring, WV
- Bubbling Spring, WV
- Capon Bridge, WV
- Forks of Cacapon, WV
- Great Cacapon, WV
Big Capon River, Cacapehon Creek, Cacapehon River, Cacapon Creek, Cacapon River, Cackapehon River, Cackapohon River, Capcappin Creek, Cape Capon River, Capecapon River, Capon River, Great Cacapehon River, Great Cacapon River, Great Capon River
Information on lodging, dining, and recreation on and near the Cacapon River may be found in our guide to travel in the Potomac Branches Region, in eastern West Virginia, through which the Cacapon and its tributaries descend.