The historic lock and dam draws area
residents for fishing or an outing

By Bob Weaver 2007

One of Wirt County's historical sites is at risk of being lost forever, The Well's Lock and Dam (No. 3) was built over 125 years ago to facilitate river traffic.

Beyond the recreational value and keeping the water table high on the Little Kanawha River, the 1891 lock and dam is the last of five constructed to facilitate river traffic from Parkersburg to Elizabeth, Creston, Grantsville and Glenville.

Recent efforts by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers has likely slowed the dams collapse.

Workers have dumped some rock in the lock area of the dam.

Dam creates a large reservoir of water up the Little Kanawha

The EPA has recently been at Elizabeth evaluating the situation.

The dam has been deteriorating for several years.

It has been a big concern for Wirt Commissioner Robert Lowe, who has been on a campaign to save the historic structure.

With lock chambers that were 125 by 23 feet, the system could accommodate both the gas and steam-powered boats that hauled coal, carbon black, railroad ties, oil, hoop poles, lumber, grain and salt up and down the river.

The Little Kanawha has an outstanding riverboat history, flowing 167 miles through Upshur, Braxton, Gilmer, Calhoun, Wirt and Wood counties before flowing into the Ohio River at Parkersburg.

Another historic structure in Elizabeth is at risk, badly needing restoration. The Little Kanawha Hotel, dating back 200 years, is still standing along the river.

Time has taken a heavy toll on structure (left)
but fisherman often use site for recreation (right)