Kumbrabow State Forest, located on Rich Mountain along the western edge of the Allegheny Highlands, is West Virginia’s highest forest.
Kumbrabow State Forest was once covered with towering stands of hemlock and red spruce, but the land was depleted of any substance following extensive logging in the 1880s and wildfires in the 1920s.
State forests were being formed because of the depletion of timber and the degradation of land in the state. Conservationists feared that without proper management, the woods would not regrow. Lumber and iron companies had harvested the old-growth forests on a massive scale, leaving behind rotting stumps and sash that was ready fuel that needed just a spark from a passing steam locomotive to become an inferno. Additionally, tanneries took advantage of the availability of oak and other bark in tanning animal hides into leather, which led to tannic acid pollution, while other companies extracted coal that led to acid mine drainage that fouled streams.
The area’s abundant rainfall, high elevation, and forest management led to quick forest regrowth. Kumbrabow State Forest was formed in 1934 and was named after the park’s earliest supporters: Governor Herman G. (Kum)p, Spates (Bra)dy, and Hubert (Bow)ers.