The Meadow River, in southern West Virginia, is named for a large region of meadows in which it sources. It is a principal tributary of the Gauley River and may be best known for its association with outdoor recreation.
Large parts of the region are protected habitats. Twelve miles of its lower course part of the Gauley River National Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service. The Meadow River Wildlife Management Area protects much of the ecosystem of the upper river. The lower river is a popular whitewater kayaking stream, and the cliff-lined canyon along its lower course is a popular destination for rock climbing. The upper river is more popular with flatwater kayaking.
Boulders in the canyon of the Meadow River prevented the success of a logging industry before the development of railroads, after which, in 1906, the Meadow River Lumber Company established one of the most productive lumber operations, and the largest hardwood sawmill in the world, at Rainelle, West Virginia.
Battle of Carnifex Ferry
During the Civil War, the Battle of Carnifex Ferry was fought between Union and Confederate forces above the mouth of the river. Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park protects the site.
Meadow River Communities
From source to mouth, the following select towns and villages are located on or near the Meadow River.
Information on lodging, dining, and recreation on and near the upper Meadow River, upstream of and including Rainelle, WV, may be found in our guide to travel in the Greenbrier Valley Region. Information for the lower segment of the river, below Rainelle, may be found in the New River Gorge Region.