Good Fishing and Placid Waters
The county of Clay was formed in 1858 from parts of Braxton, Kanawha
and Nicholas counties and was named in honor of Henry Clay. Both county
and county seat are named for the popular Kentucky statesman. His part
in bringing the National Road to Wheeling earned him a monument in
western Virginia in 1820 before West Virginia declared its statehood in
1863. Clay County has an area of 346 square miles. It is the home of the
Golden Delicious apple.
Our next stop in Clay County was Lake Sampson, a 15-acre impoundment
opened in May 2005, only minutes from the Wallback exit of I-79. The
lake is said to offer excellent bass fishing, and boats and trolling
motors are allowed. There are also walking paths wrapping around the
waters and a recreational area for the marksman. A modern target
shooting range that is easily accessible to the public is available. The
lake was quiet and tranquil with only a few fellow fishermen, and we
enjoyed the afternoon by the water.
For those readers that are excited about fishing in a new spot, they
say “fishing in the mighty Elk,” is the best kept secret of Clay County.
There are four public boat launch sites on the Elk River in Clay: Queen
Shoals bridge on the southern end of the county, Rt. 4 near the
Clay-Kanawha county line, south of Spread Park on Rt. 4, and at the
Villanova bridge. All are accessible for fishermen, kayaks, canoes, jon
boats, etc. Small mouth and rock bass fishing are said to be great. Plan
a fishing day.
There is also a city pool and some fantastic swimming holes located
in Lilly’s Creek, just across a little wooden bridge past the J.G.
Bradley campground at Dundon. Next year, there are plans to further
“Ride into the Wilderness” by Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad
Co-Operative. At this time, there are 20 rustic campsites with water and
electric. Work continues on a lodge and visitor center at the campground
Another attraction that might interest you is the 1/4 mile O’Brion
Oval Speedway. Located about 11 miles off of I-79, exit 46, admission is
$10, and on a summer evening a race might be what kicks your heals up.
If you prefer a slower pace or a step back in time, the Historic Clay
County Courthouse, built in 1902, may be your destination. A genealogy
library is open by appointments and the structure is a true piece of
From fishing to hiking to shooting ranges, and even a coon hunters
club, Clay has a little something for each visitor.
Lake Sampson; above and below.
Photos directly above are from the Wallback Wildlife
Management Area off I-79.
June 27, Trent Tomlinson concert to celebrate City of Spencer’s
150th Birthday, 7:30 p.m.
June 28, Summer Jam 08, Beach Night, Bo Stephens, Tiff Farmer,
Vicki Nottingham, Town of Clay, 7 p.m.
July 3-5, Gassaway Days and Celebration
July 4-6, Small Town America Independence Weekend Celebration,
Town of Clay
July 4-6, Ellenboro Glass Festival
July 5, Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Dept. Ice Cream Social
July 5, Once Blue Bluegrass, North Bend State Park, 7 p.m.
July 6, Russell Ahner and Honorable Mention Band, North
Bend, State Park, 7 p.m.