The 128-mile Monongahela River rises at the junction of the West Fork River and the Tygart Valley River at Fairmont, WV, and ends at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where it joins the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River. In West Virginia, it travels across central Marion County and eastern Monongalia County on its 37 mile journey to the Pennsylvania border at the Mason-Dixon Line. Other major tributaries of the Monongahela River that rise in West Virginia include the Cheat River and Youghiougheny River, both of which join the river across the border in Pennsylvania.
The Monongahela River is an important navigation route, a primary corridor through which coal is transported out of northern West Virginia. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates three locks on the river in West Virginia. Morgantown, WV, is the largest city on the river in West Virginia.
The river is an increasingly important destination for fishing, boating, and water-based recreation. The Monongahela River Trail follows the river between Fairmont and Morgantown, where waterfront civic improvements have been developed. Preserves have been established along the river at Palatine Park, in Fairmont, at Hazel Ruby McQuain Park, in Morgantown, and at Edith Barill Riverfront Park, in Star City. Pricketts Fort State Park, near Fairmont, protects an inlet on the river at the mouth of Pricketts Creek, and West Virginia University has established the Earl Core Arboretum on the river near Morgantown.
History of the Monongahela River
The Virginia Assembly passed an act in 1783 that ordered the clearing and extension of navigation on the Monongahela River and West Fork River. Several steamers ascended the river before 1820, though the first to reach Morgantown, WV, did not do so until 1826, and the first to reach Fairmont, WV, did not reach its goal until 1850.
Monongahela River Communities
From source to mouth, the following select towns and villages are located on or near the Monongahela River.
The source of the name Monongahela iis said to derive from the Delaware language and means “river with the sliding banks” or “high banks that break off and fall down.”
Manaungahela River, Me-nan-gi-hil-li, Meh-non-au-au-ge-hel-al, Mehmannaunringgehlau, Mehmannauwinggehla, Mo-hon-ga-ly River, Mo-hon-galy River, Mo-hon-gey-e-la River, Mo-hong-gey-e-la River, Mohungahala River, Mohunghala River, Monaung River, Monaungahela River, Monna River, Monnyahela River, Monona River, Mononga River, Monongahalia River, Monongahaly River, Monongaheley River, Monongahelia River, Monongalia River, Monongalo River, Mononguhela River, Mononyahela River, Muddy River
Information on lodging, dining, and recreation on and near the Monongahela River may be found in our guide to travel in the Monongahela Valley Region, in northern West Virginia, which also includes the West Fork River and the lower courses of the Cheat River and Tygart Valley River.