The Forgotten Community of Brownsville, WV

Memorial plaque remembering the community of Brownsville in Lewis County, West Virginia. Photos by John Clise

By John Clise

Brownsville, was located in Lewis County, West Virginia, just above the Stonewall Jackson Dam. It was a thriving community with some of the best farmland in the area.

It was home to families, businesses, agriculture, a school, post office, church, manufacturing, and served as an important shipping point for natural resources out of the area.

The Brownsville Community Church served the area for 22 years from 1950 to 1972.

The Brownsville School served students from 1ts to 7th grade from 1915 through 1964. Many of those students were at the dedication ceremony of the overlook.

The community now resides under the lake’s waters. There is a memorial lookout to the Brownsville a very short walk from the dam itself which was dedicated in 2007 by a group of former residents.

Brownsville Pumping Station.
Brownsville Methodist Church

The properties were acquired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who purchased the property to construct a flood control dam. The dam was completed in 1988.

According to 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.”


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