Vision for the Upper Monongahela River

By 2020, the Monongahela River region has become a focal point of recreational, social, and educational activities for people of all ages who live in the region. In fact, the leisure opportunities associated with the river have helped to bring increased tourism to the area. Residents spend pleasant hours near the river, enjoying the sunsets and cool air during the evenings, or find it a wonderful place to enjoy their morning coffee and newspaper. Often they see kayakers and canoeists pass and boats from all over the river system headed for some of the marinas that offer vacation amenities to visitors afloat. The river has also linked the city of Fairmont with Morgantown and points to Pennsylvania, including Friendship Hill and the towns of Point Marion, Greensboro, and Rices Landing through a historical trail. The trail includes many sites of interest, including camping spots where powerboats and paddleboats can moor.

The river trail originates above Fairmont at the junction of the Tygart and West Fork Rivers. It passes a memorial to the victims of the Mononga Mine Disaster of 1907 and the Everettville Disaster of 1927. The abandoned mines such as the one at Joe's Run above Hildebrand Lock are other trail sites, which offer a look into the history of mining. The historic river museum at old Lock 7, and a museum on the glass and pottery produced at Greensboro has brought new economic activity to Greensboro and visitors also stop at Friendship Hill on the opposite bank. The terminus is at Ten Mile Creek, the border of Greene and Washington Counties.

Construction of another flatboat - using tools and methods of the early pioneers continues at Morgantown near Decker's Creek, while the first one built offers visitors a floating glimpse of our early history at the site of one of the first boatyards on the Monongahela River, run by Michael Kearns in the late 1700's. Volunteers in period clothing provide tours of the vessel, which contains all of the worldly possessions of a family traveling west from Virginia to Kentucky in 1765.

Unsightly flotsam, which used to mar the water's surface, is gone. This is because of concerted efforts of Fairmont and Morgantown citizens who attacked the problem at the source, litter and dumping near the river and its tributaries. A continual education program, continuous flotsam monitoring and disposal, and close cooperation with the Corps of Engineers have helped to eliminate this problem. In fact, other communities down the river have adopted the area's innovative program dealing with river flotsam, and a cleaner waterway has become obvious all the way to the Gulf of Mexico!

Various river festivals, along with celebrations and appreciation of the river itself, have become a great opportunity for the region's citizens to bring the river into their lives. Most people arrive on foot or by bicycle via the Caperton Trail. The focal point of several festivals is an old fashioned "family" picnic down by the river. Swimming from the banks keeps the parents and their children cool during the afternoon, and as the sun sets, there is a sing-along. Folktales and ghost stories are told as the moon rises above the nearby hills and shines on the river's surface. The festivals also include the regional "liars" contest, with all tales related to the river.

Greater focus on the river in Morgantown is noticeable during the annual Arts on the River Festival, and a Fourth of July regatta and fireworks display from the river have made the area a center of activity during six months out of the year. The sunset dinner cruises culminate with holiday trips up to Hildebrand Lock on December 20 and 21st. Residents young and old are offered opportunities to participate in water activities.

A diverse fish population has developed in response to improved water quality resulting from the elimination of acid mine drainage. At least 50 species of fish inhabit the river; 20 species are sport fish that fishermen, women, and kids love to catch. Anglers take advantage of a pedestrian walkway along the shoreline in each of the lock and dam tailwaters to catch 2 or 3 fish per hour. Fish are attracted to these tailwaters by the currents and are concentrated because the dams are barriers to their upstream movement. These are the best places to fish on the Mon River. Many fish are taken home for a fish fry. Several bass tournaments are held weekly in each pool. Spectators gather at the boat ramps to watch the fish being weighed before they are released alive back into the river.

Pt. Marion also has a very popular development consisting of several docks and a riverfront park.

Communities are tied together with a bike path, which makes the land trail a link stretching the length of the river. These allow the areas to share trailheads with the river access points.

Artists, and craft people have created cooperative studios and galleries along the riverfront. Tours between Pittsburgh and Fairmont have become quite popular, which include traveling shows on big boats that pull up to community docks along the river throughout the region. The barging industry still flourishes, but great cooperation exists between the commerce and recreation interests, sharing the rivers' resources and increasing the safety on the river. Swimming and water skiing on the Mon River has become extremely popular. Also, great cooperative efforts among local groups have allowed for the preservation of the historic swimming and fishing spots such as at the big flat rock outcropping in Morgantown behind the parking garage in the Wharf District.