The Meadow River takes its name from the Big Meadows of western Greenbrier County, the region of glades and pastureland in southeastern West Virginia (WV) in which it sources. The Meadow River is a principal tributary of the Gauley River. Along part of its length, it forms the boundary between northern Fayette County and southern Nicholas County.
The Meadow River Wildlife Management Area protects much of the ecosystem of the upper river among its meadows. Its lower 12 miles are part of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. The lower river is a popular kayaking stream, and its cliff-lined canyon along its lower course is a popular destination for rock climbing.
History of the Meadow River
Boulders in the canyon of the Meadow River prevented the success of a logging industry before the development of railroads, afterwhich the Meadow River Lumber Company establised one of the most productive lumber operations in the world at Rainelle, WV, until 1970. 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 found in the New River Gorge Region.