The Monongahela River: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know
History of the Mon River
Where did the Monongahela River Form?
The Monongahela River forms at the junction of Tygart Valley River and West Fork Rivers in Maron County, WV. The river flows northward, towards Pittsburgh for a total of 128.7 miles. There it joins with the Alleghany River to eventually form the Ohio River.
How The Monongahela River was Named
The name “Monongahela” comes from the Unami language and roughly translates to “Falling Banks.” The name was given to the river as a reference to its high banks that erode easily and are loose and muddy in some areas. However, the Monongahela River is also known locally as “The Mon” or “The Mon River” and will often be referenced this way by local residents.
Interesting Facts About The Mon
- The Monongahela River is one of a few major rivers in North America that flow from south to north, instead of north to south.
- There are a total of 9 locks and dams along the length of the Monongahela River, beginning in Lowsville, WV and ending in Braddock, PA.
- Thanks to the locks and dams being operated by the US Army Corp of Engineers, the Monongahela River became the first river in the United States with complete navigational control.
- The Monongahela River flows through two Mountaineer Country counties in West Virginia: Marion County and Monongalia County.
- Monongalia County and the Monongahela National Forest are both named after the Monongahela River.
Monongahela River Activities
The Monongahela River is home to various types of bass and catfish, as well as other fish species like bluegill, walleye, and sauger. Local fisheries will also regularly stock the Mon with different variety of trout, including the prized golden trout. During the annual West Virginia Gold Rush event, fishermen are invited to test their luck at catching one of the many Golden Trout released into waterways across the state.
Learn more about fishing in Mountaineer Country by visiting the Plan Your Catch blog.
Drop-in for flat-water kayaking and canoeing anywhere along the Monongahela River in Mountaineer Country. Between each lock and dam, the waters are calm and clean, with slow-moving currents and lots of room to paddle. Kayak rentals are available at local sporting goods stores and outfitters throughout Mountaineer Country. Plan your own solo adventure or sign-up for a group trip up the river with one of our many local tour guides.
Stand-up paddleboarders will find peace on the slow-moving current of the Monongahela River. Surrounded by lush, forested hillsides, the river is calm and quiet throughout the early morning and into the day. Multiple access points on and off the river give paddleboarders tons of options as they plan their trip upstream.
Brought your own boat? Find easy access to the Monongahela River thanks to ramps, docks, and marinas throughout Monongalia and Marion County.
Marion County Locations:
- Palatine Park, Fairmont, WV
- Rivesville, WV
- Prickets Fort State Park, Fairmont, WV
Monongalia County Locations:
- Opekiska, WV
- Little Falls, WV
- Uffington Boat Ramp, Uffington, WV
- Wharf District Dock, Morgantown, WV
- Morgantown Marina, Morgantown, WV
- Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, Morgantown, WV
- Walnut St. Landing, Morgantown, WV
- Edith Barill Riverfront Park Boat Ramp, Star City, WV
- Van Voorhis Landing, Star City, WV
- Fort Martin, WV
The Mon River Rail-Trail
The Mon River Rail-Trail is a system of walking, running, and biking trails following the length of the Monongahela River. The Rail-Trail system stretches 48-miles throughout Mountaineer Country, connecting Fairmont, WV to Point Marion, PA. The central section of the Rail-Trail is known as Caperton Trail and follows the Monongahela River shoreline in Morgantown, WV. Here, visitors can make a detour in Morgantown, WV onto the Deckers Creek Rail Trail, a section on the Rail-Trail system that extends eastward to Reedsville, WV.
Rail-Trail Hall of Fame
The Mon River Rail-Trail System was the 2020 Inductee to the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, officiated by the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy (RTC). Hall of Fame inductees are selected based on a national vote and are recognized for outstanding scenic value, use, amenities, historical significance and community value. During the summer of 2020, the Mon River Rail-Trail System was able to secure nearly 60% off the vote over other nominees in California, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Places to Eat Along the Mon River
The Wharf District
The Wharf District in Morgantown, WV is located just steps away from the Monongahela and Mon River Trail. Visitors can choose between multiple restaurant options, each with their own unique menu. Choose lighter fair at the dog-friendly River Birch Cafe, or find rustic comfort-food at Morgantown Flour and Feed and Table 9. Pick from the craft beer list at Mountain State Brewing Company, or the wine list at Oliverio’s Ristorante.
Following the river a little further north, you’ll find your way to Terra Cafe in Star City, WV. The locally-owned cafe offers healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Freshly-baked pastries and desserts are prepared daily and always on display as soon as guests arrive.
Morgantown Brewing Company
Blaze your own trail and build your own burger at Morgantown Brewing Company, located in downtown Morgantown. Take a seat in the taproom, at the bar, or on the deck and choose from their list of craft beers, brewed in-house, and kept ice-cold.
The first restaurant to greet the Monongahela River as it enters Morgantown, WV is Sargasso, home of cutting-edge cuisine. Sargasso takes the fine-dining experience to the next level, offering unique takes on familiar menu items with locally-sourced ingredients. Pair award-winning service with an extensive selection of wine, beer and cocktails for a truly exceptional meal.
Looking for a little al fresco dining? Check out our Outdoor Seating Guide to find restaurants with outdoor dining overlooking the Monongahela River.
Frequently Asked Questions
How deep is the Mon River?
At it’s most shallow points, the Monongahela River is 9-feet deep, with an average overall depth of 20-feet. This is to allow barges and other boats to navigate the entire length of the river.
What does monongahela mean?
The name “Monongahela” comes from the Unami language and roughly translates to “Falling Banks.” The name was given to the river as a reference to its high banks that erode easily and are loose and muddy in some areas.
Where does the monongahela river start?
The Monongahela River begins at the junction of Tygart Valley River and West Fork River, just south of Fairmont, WV.
What fish are in the monongahela river?
The Monongahela River is home to various types of bass and catfish, as well as other fish species like bluegill, walleye, and sauger.
How do you pronounce monongahela river?
The most common pronunciation for Monongahela is “Muh-Non-Gah-He-Luh.” However, there are many variations of the named used locally throughout Mountaineer Country. Most local residents simply refer to it as “The Mon.”
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