Guyandotte River

Guyandotte River at Logan, West Virginia, Logan County, Hatfield & McCoy Region
Guyandotte River at Logan, W.Va.

The 166-mile Guyandotte River is a tributary of the Ohio River that drains part of the Allegheny and Cumberland regions of southwestern West Virginia. The river forms in Raleigh County, southwest of Beckley, WV, at the junction of Winding Gulf Creek and Devils Fork. From the Raleigh County boundary, it flows westward across Wyoming County before turning north and descending slowly across Mingo County, Logan County, Lincoln County and Cabell County. It enters the Ohio River at Guyandotte, WV, near Huntington, WV.

The river is impounded as R.D. Bailey Lake, centerpiece of the R.D. Bailey Lake Wildlife Management Area, near the midpoint in its course. The, Elk Creek Wildlife Management Area, Horse Creek Lake Wildlife Management Area, and Chief Logan State Park also protect land along the river and its tributaries. The Mud River, which joins the Guyandotte at Barboursville, WV, is its largest tributary.

History of the Guyandotte River

Though an important waterway, the Guyandotte was never practically navigable. In 1848 the Guyandotte Navigation Company was established to build locks and dams on the stream to help harvest the region’s abundant timber and coal resources. However, the dams were poorly crafted, and a flood routed the project in 1861. In 1980,  the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers established a flood control dam upstream of Gilbert, WV, creating R.D. Bailey Lake.

Guyandotte River Communities

From source to mouth, the following select cities, towns, and villages are located on or near the Guyandotte River.

Name Origin

Some sources claim that an unidentified native tribe called the Guyandotte River the “Se-co-nee,” which meant “the narrow-bottom river.” The origin of the present name is likely related to the Native American culture group Huron or Wyandot, who referred to themselves as the “Wendat,” meaning “island people” or “dwellers on a peninsula.” European settlers often spelled the name “Guyandot.”

Variant Names

Arbuckles River, Big Laurel Fork, Guiandotte River, Guyan Dot River, Guyan Dott River, Guyan River, Guyandates Creek, Guyandot Creek, Guyandot River, Guyandott River, La-ke-we-ke-ton, Little Guiandot, Se-co-ne, Se-co-nee, Secone, Seconec

Regional Information

Information on lodging, dining, and recreation on and near the lower Guyandotte, downstream of West Hamlin, may be found in our guide to travel in the Metro Valley Region, in western West Virginia. Information for the middle and upper river, upstream of West Hamlin, may be found in the Hatfields & McCoys Region, in southwestern West Virginia.

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