25-Mar-2001 -- This confluence is in the heart of oil & gas country about 9.7 miles WNW of
Glenville, the county seat of Gilmer County, W.Va. It is about 6100 feet up an unnamed
tributary of Trace Fork at the northern end of County Road No.16.
A friend of mine learned about the Confluence Project and suggested I try to
visit a confluence in West Virginia. I visited the web site and was immediately intrigued
with the idea. Fortunately N39 W81 had not yet been visited and it was the closest one
to me, so my wife and I decided to make the attempt.
On a chilly Sunday morning in March, we left Parkersburg, WV driving east to
Smithville where we turned south on State Route 16 to Five Forks. There we took
the Trace Fork Road east for about 4 miles to County Road No.16, (you'll know
where to turn when you see the red farmhouse with a 50-ton boulder leaning up
against its west wall -- see photo). We turned north up the narrow dirt road until it
eventually gave up and dropped down into the creek. From my planning, I knew
that the county-maintained portion of this road (if you can call a road in the creek
"maintained") only went up this creek 0.9 mi. and that the confluence
was another 2000 feet beyond that. The USGS topo maps, however, showed the
road continuing north so we hoped for the best. Eventually the road climbed
back out of the creek and, to our relief, continued northerly past an old house
and on to the vicinity of the confluence. When we got to a fork in the hollow
on the west we parked and got out to walk the rest of the way. We hiked down a
steep embankment (well, actually my wife slid down) only to find an oil & gas
lease road in the hollow that we could have driven had we known it was there.
From there it was an easy 600 foot walk up the lease road that led us to within
100 feet of the confluence.
39° north, 81° west is located about 100 feet northeast of the lease
road on a steep, wooded southwest-facing hillside at an elevation of about 970'.
The site is on a 40% slope in a mixed hardwood forest of oaks, maples, beech
and hickory. To the southwest of the site is a small stream running southeast
with an impressive sandstone outcrop hanging some ten feet out over the creek.
To the northeast is a narrow ridge point some 200 feet distant.
The entire area is a prolific producer of oil and natural gas (see the gas
meter in the photos) and pipelines, tank batteries and wellheads are found
throughout the surrounding hills. Although many of these hillsides were cleared
and tilled in the past by the hardscrabble settlers of the area, the hills have, over
time, become reforested and the region now produces a large amount of