Honda XL250 Motorbike

During a hike near the stunning Moon Rocks in Tucker County, West Virginia, we unexpectedly came across an old Honda XL250 Motorbike that had been abandoned for a long time.

Moon Rocks is a remarkable location situated a few miles northeast of Davis, the highest-elevation town in the Mountain State. It features massive sandstone bedrock, which emerged around 480 million years ago from wetland bogs, eventually wearing down and becoming exposed because of erosion—becoming known as Moon Rocks among mountain bikers and off-roaders in Canaan Valley. In 1975, a local preacher sought to boost the local economy and reached out to Dave Coombs and his grand prix off-road motorcycle racing series. Together, they organized the Blackwater 100, a grueling 100-mile race that circumvented Canaan Valley. The race gained national recognition and was regarded as the most challenging race in the country. Subsequently, in 1983, Laird Knight initiated the Canaan Mountain Series for mountain bike racing.

During this period, Canaan Valley was undergoing significant changes. In 1970, Allegheny Power applied for permits to construct a long-anticipated hydroelectric facility intended to supply electricity to major metropolitan areas in the Northeast. The proposal involved damming the Blackwater River to create an 8,000-acre lake. However, due to strong public opposition, Canaan Valley was designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in December 1974. Although the Federal Power Commission granted a license to Allegheny Power in 1977 for the hydroelectric project, the company was denied a Clean Water Act permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1978. The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Allegheny Power’s appeals in 1988 effectively ended any hopes for the hydroelectric project.

In 1993, the last Blackwater 100 race took place, and some of the lands involved became part of the newly established Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in 1994. Other areas were acquired by private interests and the West Virginia Land Trust, which aims to secure permanent land access for bikers, hikers, and hunters.

The motorbike that now rests against a tree near Moon Rocks serves as a reminder of that off-roading legacy—a time when land usage was less regulated and off-roading had reached its peak in the highlands of West Virginia.

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