Good morning all, sorry for the delay this week in writing my blog. Life sure does have a way of getting in the way. After an extremely busy week, I needed a few days to recoup. I am just thankful I can work on this in Monday evening and have WordPress Schedule the posting. This week’s blog is on Seneca Rocks located in Pendleton County West Virginia. I have only been to this location a handful of times and have yet to really explore the area. Typically it has been while passing through and to take enough time to grab a few pictures.
Seneca Rocks are the only “true peak” on the East Coast of the United States and are inaccessible except by rock climbing. This is one of the best-known attractions located in West Virginia and is a popular challenge for rock climbers. Seneca Rocks are part of the western flank of the North Fork Mountain rising nearly 900 feet above the Seneca Creek. The rocks are erosion-resistant Tuscarora quartzite with the thickest part being 250 feet.
The first European visitors of the regions were surveyors who passed through the area around 1746, with the first settlers arriving 15 years later. In 1853 a well-known writer and magazine illustrator David Hunter Strother sketched the rocks.
In 1965 the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area was established within the Monongahela Nation Forest by the U.S. Congress and the rocks themselves were purchased in 1969 from the heirs of D.C. Harper by the federal government. In 1978 the original visitor center was opened however during the flood of 1985 the center was severely damaged, and in 1992 the center was destroyed by arson. In 1998 the current center was built and is known as the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center. On October 22, 1987, the “Gendarme” pinnacle of the Rocks fell to the ground.
Rock climbing is a popular activity for this area. There are over 375 major mapped climbing routes which vary from 5. degree to 5.13. There are two climbing schools (Seneca Rocks Climbing School, and Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides) located in Seneca Rocks training prospective climbers in beginning and advanced rock climbing. The south peak of the rocks is the tallest peak east of Devils Tower in Wyoming and is only accessible by 5th class climbing. Since 1971 there have been 15 deaths while climbing the Rocks. In 1943 and 1944 the U.S. Army used Seneca Rocks to train mountain troops in assault climbing in preparation for action in the Apennines of Italy. When the training was completed they left behind an estimated 75 thousand soft iron pitons, some which can still be found on the rocks to day.