Dry as a bone!

Have any of you ever wondered how places get their names? Lost River–in Hardy County, West Virginia–recently got Polly’s attention.  She wondered exactly what the “lost” part meant and decided to find out for herself. Heading south from Wardensville, she came to a bridge over old WV-55 and noticed a boulder-strewn river bed without a trace of water in it!  What happened to the river?

Polly and her human friends hopped in the car and headed upstream to the next bridge.  Can anyone guess what they found?  That’s right!  Flowing water and plenty of it!  With a little bit of research, the always curious travel frog got to the bottom of the mystery.  When the river level is low or normal,
the water seeps underground and re-emerges four miles downstream.  From there it is known as the Cacapon River.  Downstream?  Yes!  Look at the first picture again.  The dry gorge does have water in it when the river is high.  Amazing!  Aren’t you glad you found out about Lost River?

It's like magic...Water!

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7 Responses to “The Mystery of Lost River (Polly #5)”

  1. Curious Traveler
    June 20th, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Okay, so the water in the lower portion of the top picture is part of the dry gorge, right? It looks like there might be water about 3/4 of the way up in the picture–just behind the trees. I would like to walk up the dry part someday and see where the water goes underground. That woulbe be really cool!

  2. Curious Traveler,

    I’m not sure how interesting the “river underground” point really is. This is how I understand the story: the water runs into a normal pool and simply doesn’t come out. There isn’t what you’d specifically call a hole in the ground that looks like a drain. Instead, the water seeps into the earth and becomes an underground river until it comes back above ground near Wardensville.

    When I was a tadpole, I heard all of the “urban legends” about the river–things like putting barrels into the underground river that never came out and dying the water to see if it is indeed the same stream that percolates up through the ground to form the Cacapon River. I’m not sure about the dye, but the part about the barrels is absolutely untrue. Actually, this anomaly isn’t much of a visual spectacle, but, for me, it was cool to say that I’ve been there.

  3. I guess it’s not really lost since you know where it is! 🙂 Interesting post!

  4. I love this post! In fact, it makes me want to see it for myself. Great post, as always, Polly #5!

  5. So, the water just disappeared?

  6. The interesting part about it is that the river goes under a giant mountain before it re-emerges a few miles downstream. It’s not just a hole in the earth; it’s a hole in a big mountain.

  7. I remember when I was around 12 years old, my Aunt and Uncle took me to Lost River and explained that the river went under a mountain as lost river and came back as the Capon River. I’ve been looking for the rivers for some time and now your website has found it for me. I am in your debt. Thank you so much for this memory of my life.