Skip to main content

Blackwater Chronicle

Philip Pendleton Kennedy
Edited by Timothy Sweet

PB  978-0-937058-66-4


This wilderness travelogue about the exploration of Canaan Valley, West Virginia, was originally published in 1853. With appeal far beyond its time and region, first editions of this chronicle reached New York, London, and even Germany. This often humorous and always fascinating story reveals Kennedy’s journey into an unexplored territory.


  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Getting under Way
  • In which the Expedition dances a Hornpipe on the Top of a Mountain
  • The Coxkneys explained by the Prior of St. Philips, from the Top of the Allegany
  • Winston and its Catellan—Mr. Edward Towers
  • The Blackwater Invasion determined upon
  • The Dale on the Potomac—and a Somewhat particular Description of the Array
  • The March into the Canaan
  • The Lodge in the Wilderness
  • The Blackwater Founr—A Great Number of Trout taken—Mr. Butcut fries some Fish
  • The Blackwater Villa
  • The Falls of the Blackwater
  • How we got out of the Canaan—and in Spite of our Teeth
  • The Return to Winston—“Bootless Home and Weather-beaten Back.”


Philip Pendleton Kennedy resided in the present-day eastern panhandle of West Virginia, where he socialized, hunted and fished, and dabbled at writing. The Blackwater Chronicle is his only major published work.


“Philip Pendleton Kennedy’s account of this adventure makes for enjoyable reading today. More than this, however, the book provides both an interesting glimpse into antebellum American literary culture and an important record of the Canaan wilderness before it was despoiled by economic exploitation. These qualities make The Blackwater Chronicle a work of lasting value.”
Timothy Sweet, professor of English, West Virginia University