According to local lore and the State of West Virginia historical marker on Route 2, there is a perfectly good reason for the Great Bend in the Ohio River. It seems that Paul Bunyan, when faced with West Virginia's hilly terrain, decided to just give it a miss and stepped over the whole state. But he misjudged the distance and put his heel down at the western edge of the river, causing the Great Bend to form. And you know it's true because it's carved in cast iron on that historical marker.
|Map from city-data.com|
The Great Bend is not far from my home, about 10 miles, I'd guess, as the crow flies, and 16 miles by th shortest driveable route. There used to be a scenic overlook there but the undergrowth now blocks the view. I sure wish an Eagle Scout or civic group would take on the care of the site, because it really is a spectacular view.
George Washington camped just above the Great Bend at the present site of Ravenswood, and also a couple miles below the Bend, according to his journal. His description of this part of the river:
"29th.- The tedious ceremony, which the Indians observe in their counsellings and speeches, detained us till nine o’clock. Opposite to the creek, just below which we encamped, is a pretty long bottom, and I believe tolerably wide; but about eight or nine miles below the aforementioned creek, and just below a pavement of rocks on the west side, comes in a creek, with fallen timber at the mouth, on which the Indians say there are wide bottoms and good land. The river bottoms above, for some distance, are very good, and continue so for near half a mile below the creek. The pavement of rocks is only to be seen at low water. About a mile below the mouth of the creek there is another pavement of rocks on the east side, in a kind of sedgy ground.
"On this creek are many buffaloes, according to the Indians’ account. Six miles below this comes in a small creek on the west side, at the end of a small, naked island, and just above another pavement of rocks. This creek comes through a bottom of fine land, and opposite to it, on the east side of the river, appears to be a large bottom of very fine land also. At this place begins what they call the Great Bend.
"Two miles below, on the east side, comes in another creek, just below an island, on the upper point of which are some dead standing trees, and a parcel of white-bodied sycamores; in the mouth of this creek lies a sycamore blown down by the wind. From hence an east line may be run three or four miles; thence a north line till it strikes the river, which I apprehend would include about three or four thousand acres of valuable land. At the mouth of this creek is the warriors’ path to the Cherokee country. For two miles and a half below this the Ohio runs a north-east course, and finishes what they call the Great Bend. Two miles and a half below this we encamped."