By Mack Samples|
If you are a trout fisherman (or woman), you know all about the Williams River. It’s got to be one of West Virginia’s best places to fish whether you catch anything or not. The beautiful mountain stream makes a person feel good just to be in it or around it. But even if you don’t fish, there are many good reasons to visit the Williams.
On August 23, 2009 my wife and I filled the thermos with coffee, climbed into the old SUV, and lit out for the high country. We drove up Birch River, stopped at the Y-Mart just east of Cowen for a snack, then headed for Marlinton via the Williams River Road. If you have not been up that way lately, you might be surprised to learn that it is now paved all the way through to U.S. 219. Talk about a scenic drive!
Every little curve you go around provides a great view of the river. I have seen the Williams nearly dry this time of year, but there is plenty of water this year because of the wet summer. As you traverse the road you can’t help but wonder where all those huge boulders that populate the stream came from. Did they roll down from the mountains or were they carved out by the rushing waters? Wherever they came from, they provide a great avenue for the Williams to find its way down out of the Pocahontas mountains.
There are many great campsites along the way, some with restroom facilities. There is no electricity, but you really wouldn’t want to spoil the ambiance of the campsites with electricity. It only costs you five bucks a night to camp and you can’t beat that price. Many campsites around the area go for thirty-five or forty dollars a night. True, they might provide more accommodations, but they don’t provide the Williams River.
As we rolled up past Three Forks I was reminded of perhaps the best deer hunting tale I ever heard. Back in the early 20th Century, legendary fiddler “Edden” Hammons, who lived at the head of the Williams, told about watching his brother shoot a big buck with his mountain rifle. He knocked the animal down, but when he went to harvest the deer, it got up and tired to run away. But Mr. Hammons grabbed the antlers and jumped astride the big stag. The buck headed for the river and crashed into the water with Mr. Hammons on his back. When the deer got out to where his feet would not touch bottom, he held the big boy under until he drowned.
After riding past three forks and the Tea Creek Campground, we approached what the locals call the “dead water.” That’s the only section of the Williams where the water does not run wild and free. There is actually a few hundred yards of quiet water. We drove under the Scenic Highway and soon afterward climbed up Woodrow Mountain, past the Handly Wildlife Viewing Park. From there we enjoyed the views on Woodrow as we motored on to Marlinton. If you have never been to Montana, that little drive across the top of Woodrow will provide a pretty good idea of what western Montana really looks like.
Finally, we dropped off Woodrow and came out at the Quick Stop on Route 219. From 219 we took the Old Campbell Town Road to where our daughter lives. She lives on a beautiful spot that provides a good view of the quaint town of Marlinton.
When we got home, we were thankful that our daughter chose such a beautiful place to live. We were even more grateful that we did not have to plunge into one of the urban areas to visit with her.