Pictorial: A Day at Stonewall Jackson Lake

By John Clise

Stonewall Jackson Lake in Lewis County, West Virginia. All Photos by John Clise. Copyright Hobo Stu Travel, LLC.

I love heading down to Stonewall Jackson Lake to capture the sights and sounds with my wife Rebecca. The season doesn’t matter either. There’s always something great to photograph there.

We’ve been taking pictures and enjoying the tranquility of the lake for 15… since we started dating and now into almost nine years of marriage.

One of the first times we went down there I was goofing around and ended up sliding down a steep slope for close to 100 feet on my back. I have to say that was one of the most fun things I’ve done as an adult. Rebecca doesn’t share my excitement.

The lake is kind of our place to go relax, enjoy and disconnect.

Aside from escaping the world for a few hours, the lake is great for fishing and kayaking. It’s also a great place for birding and the occasional bear sighting.


The Stonewall Resort is also a nice option for visitors to the area and locals looking for an enjoyable day trip.

Please scroll on down and check out a few of the pictures from our most recent visit.

You may be lucky enough to see an eagle if you make your way to the lake. We saw one earlier in the year. Reports of eagle sightings have continued to pop up from residents in the area.

If you are really lucky you may even see a bear taking a recreational swim to cool off. There was a recent sighting of a bear swimming above the dam. We saw a bear a few years ago on the way to the lake. It had wandered into a cow pasture without paying attention, it appeared, as he scurried back into the trees.

Also, above the dam is a plaque commemorating the community of Brownsville, which was lost to the construction of the lake.

I was working at The Weston Democrat when the plaque was dedicated. It was a great ceremony with many former residents in attendance.

Black vulture in flight.
Stonewall Jackson Lake near Vandalia.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Stonewall Jackson Lake was authorized and approved by the Flood Control Act of 1966. The purposes of the project, as stated in the authorizing legislation, are flood protection, low flow augmentation for water quality, water supply, fish and wildlife enhancement, hydropower and recreation. The project, completed in 1990, is the most recent addition to the Pittsburgh District’s 16 flood control projects.

Stonewall Jackson Dam is located on the West Fork River, three miles south of the county seat at Weston, West Virginia and 73 miles upstream from the river’s mouth. From its source in Lewis and Upshur Counties, the West Fork River flows northward for 98.7 miles to Fairmont, West Virginia. There it joins the Tygart River to form the Monongahela River.

Stonewall Jackson Dam has the capability to store the equivalent run-off of 7.1 inches of precipitation from its 101.8 square mile drainage area. The project’s flood damage reduction benefits were first demonstrated while it was still under construction when it prevented damages estimated in excess of $25 million during the 1985 Election Day Flood. To date, Stonewall Jackson has prevented flood damages estimated to be nearly $236 million.

Development of the project required the acquisition of 20,451 acres of land. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers retains 330 acres of land at the dam site for operation of the dam and support facilities. All remaining federal lands are leased to the state of West Virginia. These consist of roughly 2,000 acres managed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources as a state park and 18,289 acres of land and water managed for public hunting and fishing.

Red-Winged blackbird
There are several osprey nests at the lake.
Bumble bee hard at work.

In the fall, you’ll find color explosions among the trees. In winter, you will find a pristine paradise frozen in snow and ice like diamonds. Spring is a great time to visit the lake to get a show of the beautiful summer weather just ahead. And, of course, during the summer you will all sorts of things to be amazed by at the lake.


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