CONLEY HILL
OVERLOOKING THE MOUTH OF THE NEW RIVER

Agent Contact:
David Sibray at 304.575.7390 , Randy S. "Riverbend" Burdette at 304.667.2897

OVERVIEW

Overlooking one of the best-known scenic landscapes in West Virginia, historic Conley Hill rises above the mouth of the New River just downstream of the newly-established New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. Above the point at which the New and Gauley rivers join to form the Kanawha River, a shimmering lake collects here before plunging over a river-wide falls.

Ascending from the floor of the valley along US-60, the hill is as scenic at a distance as it is near-at-hand. It includes densely forested areas of steep and level land suited for unique home, cabin, and camp sites with views of the lake and the entrance to the gorge. A gravel road ascends onto a first tier of potential building sites then climbs steeply to the crest of the mountain. It doubles as an access to a cellular communications tower and the town’s water tanks. A water line along the lower property provides convenient public water access.

Conley Hill is located near the center of a world-renowned destination for outdoor recreation, famed for its hiking, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. The cliffs that line the rim of gorge are part of one of the largest climbing destinations in the U.S., while whitewater rafting has been a chief adventure pursuit on the New and Gauley rivers for more than half  a century, attracting hundreds of thousands of rafters annually. All have enjoyed an increase in popularity since the new national park was established.

ATTRIBUTES AND HIGHLIGHTS

  • Unmatched scenic views of New, Gauley, and Kanawha rivers
  • Proximity to New River Gorge National Park & Preserve
  • Proximity to Gauley River National Recreation Area
  • Central to globally popular whitewater-rafting destination
  • Easy access to globally popular rock-climbing destination
  • Located within corporate limits of Town of Gauley Bridge
  • Popular fishing  and kayaking destination area
  • Easy access to highway US-60 and expressways US-19, I-77, and I-64
  • Drive of less than an hour from state capital at Charleston

ABOUT THE NEW RIVER GORGE NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE

Conley Hill is located downstream New River Gorge National Park & Preserve in the midst of one of the fastest-growing tourism-based economies in West Virginia. Congress established the 70,000-acre park in 2020, resulting in a revolutionary interest in the region as a destination for travel and vacation residency.

Recent articles in Vogue, TIME, and USA Today have accelerated interest globally, as has television coverage by major networks. TIME Magazine named the park one of the “World’s 100 Greatest Places.”

The region is especially famous for its rock climbing and whitewater rafting. Both pursuits are accommodated in the northern section of the park, where the rock-rimmed gorge reaches its most developed extent. Rafting and climbing attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

The park has attracted more than two million visitors annually in recent years, and though officials predicted an increase of more than 20 percent in its first year, the increase appeared to be nearer 50 percent as of autumn 2021. Copies of the 2011 Foundation Plan for the New River Gorge National Park are available through the listing agent.

CONLEY HILL IN HISTORY

Conley Hill was known to native peoples who had inhabited the valley through the centuries before Europeans arrived. Prehistoric inhabitants in more recent years raised burial mounds along the river, and in the surrounding mountains they built stone walls, the purposes of which are still a mystery to archaeologists.

By the late 1700s, European and colonial explorers were following trails along the Kanawha through the Appalachian Mountains, encountering both friendly and hostile native groups, including the Shawnee, who fiercely claimed the region until almost 1800. By the early 1800s, a route had been opened along the river by the Commonwealth of Virginia, bridging the Gauley River at Gauley Bridge and linking tidewater Virginia with the Ohio Valley.

The Union established a fortified camp on Conley Hill during the Civil War to protect the bridge, which was destroyed twice during the conflict. Across the river, Southern forces established a camp, Fort Defiance, atop the cliffs, and it was there that a brass cannon was legendarily stowed. The legend of its hiding has served as another enduring mystery, luring many would-be treasure-hunters to the region.

During the war, the hill was timbered, and it was long thereafter maintained in pasture, earning it the name “The Sugarloaf,” for it resembled a rounded, conical mound of the kind into which sugar was then often molded.

In 1908, entrepreneur Charles A. Conley arrived at Gauley Bridge and established himself as a mule dealer, supplying animals for use in area coal mines. He swiftly grew successful, diversifying his interests and reinvesting in the community, notably expanding the two-acre homesite he acquired on the hill above the town into what soon became known as Conley Hill. He served as sheriff, president of the Board of Education, and long-time chair of the Republican Party in Fayette County and established and operated the Conley Hotel and the Gauley Theater. The hill has remained in the family ever since.

LOCATION

Google Coordinates: 38.166184, -81.201399
Address: Conley Hill Road, Gauley Bridge, WV 25085
Elevation Range: approximately 720 to 1,360 feet above sea level

MINERAL RESOURCES

West Virginia law provides for separate ownership titles for surface rights and mineral rights. This property is being conveyed as surface only.

BOUNDARIES AND SURVEY

The property is being sold by the boundary and not by the acre.

ACCESS/FRONTAGE

The property is accessible from a gravel lane that extends west from Conley Hill Road in Gauley Bridge, a paved one-lane municipal street. The property is gated.

UTILITIES

Water: Kanawha Falls Public Service District
Sewer: Kanawha Falls Public Service District
Electricity: Appalachian Power
Telephone: Multiple Carriers
Internet: Multiple Carriers
Cellphone Coverage: Multiple Carriers

ZONING

The property lies within the boundary of the corporation of the Town of Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, and is subject to municipal planning and zoning regulations therein.

PROPERTY TYPE/USE SUMMARY

The property is forested and has been used chiefly for recreational purposes.

DEED and TAX INFORMATION

Deed Information: Deedbook 625, Page 302
Acreage: approximately 69

Real Estate Tax ID/Acreage/Taxes:
Fayette County, West Virginia (10)
Gauley Bridge Corporation (13)
Tax Map 9, Parcel 219; Class 4

2020 Real Estate Taxes: $232.71

ABOUT GAULEY BRIDGE

An incorporated community of some 614 residents as of the 2010 census, the Town of Gauley Bridge was long an important commercial center for the surrounding coalfields. Established at the confluence of the New and Gauley rivers, it grew naturally through the mid-1800s at the junction of two important Virginian roads—the east-west James River & Kanawha Turnpike and the north south Weston & Gauley Bridge Turnpike. Today, highways US-60, WV-16, and WV-39 intersect at Gauley Bridge. The community has attracted attention in recent years as a destination for kayaking and canoeing.

ABOUT KANAWHA FALLS

The Kanawha River downstream of Conley Hill drops over a 15-foot river-wide cataract long known as Kanawha Falls, a scenic landmark that become increasingly a destination for kayakers. The Kanawha River below that falls is administrated as part of public fishing area by the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, which manages a boat-launch and fishing-access site there.

THE LAKE

Above the falls, the Kanawha River widens into a lake more than a half-mile wide and two-and-a-half miles long. The state has recently established a boat-launch and fishing-access site upstream of Gauley Bridge. Remarkably, the Kanawha, thanks to the damming effect of the falls below, is at its widest here at its source rather than at its mouth on the Kanawha River. The lake is a popular destination for paddling and boating.

SURROUNDING AREA

Conley Hill is located approximately five mile downstream of the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, the focus of southern West Virginia’s burgeoning tourism industry. More than two millions tourists visit the national park annually, and tourism traffic continues to grow as the region is more widely discovered. The hill is also some ten miles downstream of the Gauley River National Recreation Area, in which the Gauley River in autumn becomes one of the world’s most popular and challenging whitewater rafting rivers.

The immediate area around Conley Hill and Gauley Bridge is also included in the Kanawha Valley region, once an industrialized coal-mining region that has in recent decades become a bedroom community of the Charleston Metropolitan Area, which includes more than 240,000 residents. The valley at Gauley Bridge is generally considered to benefit from its location along US-60 between the urbanized central valley and recreational areas in the gorge and surrounding uplands.

HEALTHCARE

Hospitals with emergency units are located nearby at Oak Hill and Montgomery, 30 and 20 minutes from the property respectively. State medical centers with multiple hospitals at Charleston and Morgantown are an hour’s drive and a three-hour drive. A Veterans Administration Medical Center is located at Beckley, a drive of just less than an hour south. Several medical and emergency care clinics serve the upper Kanawha Valley region, while the area’s moderate climate and access to trails, gymnasiums, and athletic centers support healthy living. The nearest hospital to the property, Montgomery General Hospital, is a drive of approximately 20 miles.

TRANSPORTATION

Interstate expressways 77 and 64 and US-19 join nearby, providing easy access to Richmond, Charlotte, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Washington, D.C. Yeager Airport, at Charleston, is the largest and busiest flight-service center in the region. The Amtrak passenger station at Montgomery is a 20-minute drive from the property and provides direct access to Charleston, Washington, Chicago, and New York City.

Approximate hourly drive times to regional U.S. cities include Charleston, W.Va., 1; Morgantown, W.Va., 2.5; Columbus, Ohio, 2.5; Pittsburgh, Pa., 3.5; Cincinnati, Ohio, 4; Charlottesville, Va., 3.5; Richmond, Va., 4.5; Winston-Salem, N.C., 3.5; Charlotte, N.C.: 4; and Washington, D.C., 5.

CLIMATE

The steep-walled valley of the New River surrounding Gauley Bridge sustains a microclimate more typical of warmer, southerly latitudes due partly to the sheltering nature of the valley, and the warm waters that have gathered radiant heat from the sun over a long upstream course. Though the river here may appear as a large mountain stream, it has already traveled more than 300 miles from the summits of the Blue Ridge in North Carolina. The valley is a preferred location for gardens as the warm microclimate accommodates a longer growing season. It remains relatively free of the heavier snows that blanket the surrounding highlands more than 1,000 feet above.

PUBLIC & PRIVATE SCHOOLS

The immediate area is well-served by public and private schools. Public-school students living in Gauley Bridge may attend Valley Elementary, Middle, and High Schools at Smithers, located about 10 miles west off US-60.  Students may also attend Oak Hill High School and the Fayette County Institute of Technology.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Gauley Bridge is a drive of 12 miles from Bridgeview Community College at Montgomery, and it’s well positioned to provide access to other nearby centers of higher education. An hour’s drive to the west, the University of Charleston reported a student population of 2,949 in 2014. Marshall University, at Huntington, a drive of about an hour-and-a-half, is the region’s largest university and reported a student population of 12,862 in 2014.  An hour’s drive to the south, Beckley is the higher-education center of southern West Virginia and is notably the site of the southern campus of West Virginia University, which reported 1,622 students in 2018. The university’s Institute of Technology and New River Community & Technical College both maintain campuses at Beckley, and courses offered by Concord University and Bluefield State College are accommodated at the Irma Byrd Center at Beaver. Appalachian Bible College is also located nearby at Bradley. New River Community & Technical College also maintains a campus at Summersville, a drive of approximately 40 miles.

RECREATION

Residency in the New River Gorge region affords access to a seemingly limitless variety of recreational pursuits. In addition to outdoor recreation opportunities such as skiing and snow-tubing at Winterplace and hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, paddling, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting in parks, the area accommodates a number of walking, skating, and field sports facilities, including stadiums, playgrounds, and walking and biking trails.

DINING & RETAIL

Gauley Bridge is centrally located between the New River Gorge and Kanawha Valley regions and enjoys access to a variety of dining and shopping venues. Nearby, the Fayetteville area is notably home to more than a dozen noteworthy independent restaurants designed to appeal to visitors to the national park. A drive of less than an hour west, the Charleston metropolitan area boasts the state’s highest concentration of restaurants and retail centers.

REGIONAL INFORMATION

  • https://fayettecounty.wv.gov/
  • https://newrivergorgecvb.com/
  • https://visitfayettevillewv.com/
  • https://visitwv.com/our-area/fayette/
  • https://fayettecounty.com/
  • https://wvexplorer.com/communities/counties/fayette-county-west-virginia/
  • https://www.nps.gov/neri/index.htm
  • https://www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/nrgbridge.htm
  • https://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/new-river-gorge-national-river
  • https://www.summitbsa.org/about-us/new-river-gorge/
  • https://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/2418/