What Almost Wasn’t
Stories

There was supposed to be a dam at Sang Run. And another at Swallow Falls. A third major dam in Crellin for water storage would have completed the plan. The Youghiogheny flows free today from its origins above Silver Lake … Read More

Shootout At Sang Run
Stories

“The shooting has stopped at Sang Run.” That opening sentence, lying beneath an equally benign headline of “Upper Yough,” fills only a small corner of a page in the American Whitewater Journal. Tucked away between articles on finding paddle buddies … Read More

The Little Town in the Woods
Stories

Kendall is the name people remember. But it wasn’t the first name of the little town a few miles above Friendsville, nestled tightly between the river and its canyon walls. Nor was it the second name of the once booming … Read More

The High Water Mark
Stories

Nobody makes it through Tommy’s Hole unscathed. Jack Wright and Frank Birdsong were the first to contend with the Upper Yough at high water. In the late 1960’s, they found themselves at the Sang Run bridge, the water hovering around … Read More

A First Descent
Stories

An expert run! At the start the creek was shallow and slow. Soon it picked up until for 4-5 miles it dropped 100 feet per mile. Through huge boulder patches water funneled between rocks and tumbled in below… …Probably the … Read More

The Guides
Stories

The Upper Yough was in the middle of nowhere. According to Bill Kirby, before the highway was built to Friendsville, the drive from DC took about four and a half hours. You had to travel down winding gravel roads, often … Read More

The Learning Curve
Stories

It took a decade for boaters to tame the Upper Yough. In the 1960’s, kayaking was organized around slalom racing; it was the lens through which everyone viewed the sport. The best would train daily on gates, trying to shave … Read More

The Upper Yough Race
Stories

Now going for well over 30 years, the Upper Yough Race is a community institution. It’s the lone long release guaranteed each season, so that the dozens of racers can have the river to themselves while speeding their way through … Read More

Dan Demaree
People

Dan Demaree’s boating career nearly ended before it really got started. Paddling the little streams of Central PA and Maryland, he spent as much time out of his boat as in it. But after many trips to the quarry, he … Read More

Charlie’s Choice
Stories

Most people remember their first time down the Upper Yough. The building anticipation as you drift through the flat water below the bridge. The tinge of nerves as you approach the lip of Gap Falls. The awe of seeing the … Read More

Bill Bickham
People

“Beat Bickham” was the rallying cry of his opponents in the early 1960’s. Bill was on the first descent of the Upper Yough in 1959, along with Tom Smyth and Dave Kurtz. His swim earned him the privilege of having … Read More

Bob Alexander
People

As he paddled the flat water below the Sang Run bridge, Bob thought the river might be a big practical joke. He had heard the stories of boats being ruined and boaters leaving the river bruised, but all he saw … Read More

Lost and Found
Stories

Hurry up, I don’t have all day! That wasn’t the encouragement Charlie Walbridge was hoping to hear from Jack Wright as he stood mid-stream, trying to pry his boat from the rock. Charlie’s was the third incident in a few … Read More

Bastard Falls
Stories

Jamie and Tom McEwan were doing handstands on the put-in bridge. Dan Demaree watched in disbelief at how calm they were before a run of the Upper Yough. He had heard stories of the run from Jack Wright; of rapids … Read More

Wright’s Hole
Stories

Jack Wright had a reputation. Traveling between the rivers of Appalachians in his custom vans, tossing several boats from the top of the roof, Jack had a reputation for being an eccentric fellow. And on the river, he had a … Read More

Heinzerling
Stories

It started like any other Memorial Day weekend trip. The Penn State Outing Club would travel to the West Virginia area and run trips on the Cheat, the New, the Lower Yough, and whatever else was running. The best boaters … Read More

Tommy’s Hole
Stories

Tom McEwan’s first run on the Upper Yough came on a bitterly cold spring break trip with his brother Jamie. They sat around the fire the night before, warming their boats so they could patch them, as the thermometer hovered … Read More

Meatcleaver
Stories

Meatcleaver was the only rapid named on the first descent. It is also one of the names that didnt stand the test of time. Tom was leading the way, and as they arrived at a sharp bend, the “skeleton of … Read More

Dave Demaree
People

A job changed Dave Demaree’s path in the boating world. It was a simple job, working in a field office for the Army Corps. But it made him relocate to the banks of the Savage and North Branch of the … Read More

Charlie Walbridge
People

Charlie’s legacy is one of safety. Which is ironic, considering his first encounter with the Upper Yough became the river’s most famous carnage story. Aside the Upper Yough, he was highly ranked as a slalom and downriver racer through the … Read More

Dave Kurtz
People

Dave Kurtz has spent the better part of his life surrounded by water.. As a teenager he found canoeing through the Boy Scouts, and he furthered that pursuit when he came to Penn State for graduate school. There he met … Read More

Jackson Wright
People

You could take a 2×4 to Jack Wright’s boats and they wouldn’t break. In those days, Jack had a reputation for “adventure through misadventure” as he wandered his way down the un-run rivers of West Virginia. He was always looking … Read More

Cheesburger Falls
Stories

Cheeseburger Falls is one of the weirder rapid names in existence. So, it should come as no surprise that the story of its naming is equally weird. Even Dave and Dan Demaree, who named it, don’t agree on exactly how … Read More

John Sweet
People

John Sweet’s fame lies two hours south of the Youghiogheny, in the swirling waters of the Gauley River. And his entry into boating lies two hours north of Friendsville, in the winding streets that surround State College. Between those two … Read More