Editor's note: This is the 221st in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — The Guyandotte River is nearly 160 miles long, flowing from its headwaters near the Raleigh-Wyoming County line to the village of Guyandotte (now part of Huntington), where it flows into the Ohio.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, when logging was at its height in the area drained by the Guyandotte, trees - mostly yellow poplar - were brought out that were from three to six feet in diameter. Splash dams were built in the hills, which held back small pools that filled with logs. The dams were then released and the logs rushed down to the river, where they were lashed into small rafts to wait for the high water that would come when the spring thaw melted the snow off the hills.
Once this "log tide" came, the rafts were made into fleets for the ride down the river. When the logs reached Guyandotte, they were trapped by a temporary timber dam, called a "boom," which stretched from one side of the river to the other. Working around the booms was a dangerous job and injuries were common.
At Guyandotte, some few logs were sorted, measured, paid for and then taken to a local sawmill to be turned into lumber. Hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of other logs remained in the water until the boom was removed and they were released to float down the Ohio to market. Some traveled as far as Cincinnati or Louisville.
With the coming of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, the rafting of logs on the Guyandotte dramatically decreased. With spur railroads reaching the area upriver from the river's mouth, the last boom at Guyandotte was taken out in 1916-17.
Thanks to local historian Jack Dickinson for his assistance with this article.