The Cheat River is formed by the junction of its Black Fork and Shavers Fork, at Parsons, West Virginia, in the Allegheny Mountains. Its 1,380-square-mile basin drains parts of southwestern Pennsylvania, western Maryland, and, in West Virginia, parts of central Preston County, western Tucker County, eastern Randolph County, northern Pocahontas County, and eastern Monongalia County.
The Cheat River is a popular whitewater rafting stream in spring. Thousands of rafters and kayakers run its lower course when snowmelt produces highly technical rapids. The Cheat is a popular fishing stream throughout the year.
The character of the two forks or the Cheat River contrast strongly: the drainage of the Black Fork and its Dry Fork are fan-shaped, and that of the the Shavers Fork is long and narrow. The Blackwater River is a tributary of the Black Fork of the Cheat. The river is impounded as Lake Lynn, colloquially known as Cheat Lake, near the end of its course. Much of the upper Cheat and its forks drain the Monongahela National Forest.
History of the Cheat River
In 1772, the Dunkards, a religious sect, were the first Europeans to settle on the Cheat River. They established a village near Kingwood, West Virginia. The Forks of Cheat Baptist Church was organized in 1775 near the river’s mouth at Stewartstown, West Virginia. An iron industry along the lower reach of the river supported roughly 3,000 settlers at Cheat Neck (Cheat Lake) and Ices Ferry in the early 19th century.
As a result of pollution from coal mining, poor timber management, and construction of a private dam built in 1926, fish had all but disappeared from the lower course of the river by the 1950s. The Cheat was considered the eighth most endangered river in the United States during the 1990s.
Cheat River Communities
From sources to mouth, the following select towns and villages are located on or near the Cheat River.
- Snowshoe, WV (Shavers Fork)
- Spruce, WV (Shavers Fork)
- Cheat Bridge, WV (Shavers Fork)
- Bemis, WV (Shavers Fork)
- Bowden, WV (Shavers Fork)
- Pleasant Run, WV (Shavers Fork)
- Porterwood, WV (Shavers Fork)
- Job, WV (Dry Fork)
- Harman, WV (Dry Fork)
- Dry Fork, WV (Dry Fork)
- Red Creek, WV (Dry Fork)
- Hendricks, WV (Black Fork)
- Hambleton, WV (Black Fork)
- Parsons, WV
- Saint George, WV
- Erwin, WV
- Macomber, WV
- Rowlesburg, WV
- Manheim, WV
- Kingwood, WV
- Albright, WV
- Cheat Lake, WV
“Ash-sin-ha-nac” is said to mean “stony river” in the Deleware tongue.
Ach-sin-ha-nac, Achsinhanac, Cheal River, Chealt River, Eleat River, Wilmoths River
Information on lodging, dining, and recreation on and near the lower Cheat River, downstream of Rowlesburg, may be found in our guide to travel in the Monongahela Valley Region in northern West Virginia. Similar information regarding its upper course may be found the the Allegheny Highlands Region.