Roy B. Clarkson
History of Pocahontas County – 1981
Sphagnum bogs, of varying size, are found scattered throughout the higher mountains of Pocahontas County. By far, the largest of these bogs is the area known as Cranberry Glades.
It has been studied by many people, the first of which were the well-known Brooks family of naturalists of French Creek, Upshur County.
Because of its extremely interesting plant and animal life, it was classified on November 7, 1949 as a Natural Area within the Monongahela National Forest, a classification changed in 1965 to Botanical Area.
This area lies in the southwestern part of the county, and can be reached by turning off State Route 39 near the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, west of Mill Point. A portion of the Glades is accessible by a boardwalk leading from the parking lot.
Cranberry Glades covers a level area about three miles long and from one-fourth of a mile to more than a mile wide. It includes about 400 acres covered with a dense thicket of shrubs, chiefly speckled alder, about 200 acres of bog forest, and 120 acres of open “glade” covered with sphagnum and other mosses and lichens.
It lies at an elevation of 3,400 feet at the upper end and 3,355 feet at the lower end. This fall of only 45 feet in three miles gives a level appearance to the area.
The largest of the five open “glades” is Big Glade, approximately 60 acres, wherein are located extensive colonies of bog rosemary, buckbean, pitcher plant, introduced here in 1946, and large beds of reindeer moss, sphagnum moss, sedges, and other bog species.
Other “glades” are Flag Glade (28 acres), Long Glade (20 acres), Round Glade (8 acres), and Little Glade (2 aces).
The entire bog area is covered with peat of varying thickness from a few inches at the edges of a particular “glade” to 11 feet near the center of Big Glade. Typically this consists of a surface layer of sphagnum peat with sedge peat beneath. Algal ooze of two feet or more underlies the peat and is itself supported by marl or clay.
Pollen samples taken from a depth of over 12 feet were dated at 9,423 + 840 years of age.
The water level is generally highest in early spring and lowest in September and October. It varies from an inch or so to more than a foot below the surface. This gives a quaking effect to the area wherever the peat is sufficiently thick.
Cranberry Glades is justifiably famous for the northern forms of animal and plant life found there.
Three carnivorous plants are known in the area; round-leaved sundew, horned bladderwort, and pitcher plant. The pitcher plant, however, is not native but was introduced into Big Glade in 1946 and has since become thoroughly established.
Blister Swamp lies in the northeastern corner of Pocahontas County at the head of the East Fork of the Greenbrier River about 12.7 miles northeast of Durbin.
It is a little-known area of about 40 acres extent, yet, botanically, it is one of the most interesting spots in the county.
The name “Blister Swamp” was given because in this region was found an excellent native stand of Balsam Fir, known locally as Blister Pine. The swamp is located in a broad valley between Bayard Knob and Beech Mountain.
Its surface soil is alluvial and was derived from the surrounding hillside of Pocono sandstone.
At the northeast corner and along the eastern side of the swamp numerous small springs pour their cold water into the swamp even in extremely dry weather. This fact, along with the altitude of 3,637 feet, provides an ecological situation favorable for many plants of northern distribution.
Less than 100 years ago, Blister Swamp lay serene in the midst of an enormous spruce forest which stretched, at high elevations, for many miles in every direction. The spruce was supplemented in the lower slopes and valleys with northern hardwoods.
At about the time of the Civil War, stockmen from farther east came into this general area and girdled and burned thousands of acres of timber in the hope that the land would re-seed in bluegrass. This happened in large areas abound the Sinks of Gandy farther north, but in the non-limestone sections, the land was largely claimed by bracken fern which still covers it today.
Aquatic vegetation is not plentiful in most of the streams and ponds of Pocahontas County.
There are two exceptions to this statement where there are found excellent conditions for aquatics.
One of these areas, Dunmore Springs, is located along State Route 28 about one mile southeast of Dunmore. The other area, Minnehaha Springs, is located along State Route 39, at the town of Minnehaha Springs.
At both of these spots are found strong, cold springs that flow steadily throughout the year. These cold waters are impounded by a low dam at Minnehaha Springs, but at Dunmoe they flow out into an almost level, alluvial swamp.
Dunmore Springs, with an elevation of 2,510 feet, was formerly used in a limited way as a center for medicinal water. Local residents still obtain drinking water from the walled-in spring. The cold swamp and surrounding wet meadows contain several plants of unusual interest.
The thickets of alder hide the rare adder‘s tongue fern, pale green orchid and poison sumach.
The nearby meadow contains grass pink, jack-in-the-pulpit, lance-leaved lousewort, and the only colonies known in the state of Loesel’s twayblade, and Nuttall’s hedge-nettle.
The beautiful wild hyacinth grows in a wet meadow along the stream farther down.
The water itself is choked with water cress, duckweed, pondweeds and mall bur-reed.
Minnehaha Springs lies at an elevation of 2,340 feet. The water supply here is owned and utilized by a private camp. Within the impoundment is a beautiful collection of aquatics including three pondweeds, elodea and duckweed.