Rock Carvings on the New River

New River near Gauley Bridge

Here are some pictures of the rock carvings found on the south-western side of the New River at Gauley Bridge, WV. These carvings (some call them petroglyphs) can be found at an area known as “Catfish Heaven.”  The area can only be reached by boat, railroad tracks or by walking across a railroad trestle that crosses the New.

The first carving is known locally as “the mariner” and is relatively easy to find.

Mariner Stone Carving 1

“The Mariner” Close-Up of Face

Mariner Stone Carving 2

“The Mariner” Face and Helm

Mariner Stone Carving 3

“The Mariner” Helm

The second carving is known as “the family crest” and is in a more remote location. Moss has grown over most of it but I’ve heard that it reads “Italia” and “1897.”

Family Crest Stone Carving 1

“The Family Crest”

Family Crest Stone Carving 2

“The Family Crest” Embellishment

Rumor has it that the carvings were created by Italian stone workers in the 1890’s while cutting stone for the railroad trestle. I have yet to substantiate these rumors but would love any additional information that anyone might have. If you know anything about these carvings, please comment and share the information.

If you don’t know anything about them or the New River, hopefully you will find this interesting as it is a great bit of West Virginia history.

7 thoughts on “Rock Carvings on the New River

  1. How fascinating. The Italian immigrant stone cutter theory makes sense. Here in Lancaste, Pa., Italian stonecutters were brought here in the early 1900s to build the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Enola Low Grade line and their hand-cut stone arch bridges are now historic landmarks. I’m relieved, and frankly surprised, that no one has defaced the petroglyphs through the decades.

    • Thanks for the excellent and informative comment! Sadly, I have visited these carvings for years and occasionally, they are covered with paintballs or human waste. I can’t comprehend how anyone would want to do something like that. I’ve spoke to the WV Cultural Center about trying to protect them but the paperwork and legalities of it are a nightmare.

  2. I have lived in Gauley Bridge all of my life. I have visited these areas at different times. I could not tell from your pictures of the family crest the information. I have seen in the same area the family crest with “Italian Camp Giovanni Family 1890” , I can not tell if this what you have photograph of. I have never seen but have been told of a compass carving on top of the rock where the 3 crosses are now positioned.

    • Thanks for the comment, Steve. I suspect that we are talking about the same “Family Crest.” I’m planning a trip there this summer so I’m hoping that more of the carving is visible. I have never heard of the compass carving, but I will make every effort to check into it! Thanks again!

  3. Pingback: Anniversary Trip to the New River |

  4. there is also a shield with what looks like catails on each side and a banner on top of the shield with Italian writing on it, seen it about 20 years ago in the same area but cannot find it now

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