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How Did the New River Get Its Name?

The New River is not particularly “New” in the same sense of the word that you might think. In fact, the New River is one of oldest rivers in the world- some believe it is only shadowed by the Nile. It almost seems that whoever picked this name did not notice the other many characteristics of the river! Want to learn a little bit more about the story behind the name of one of our favorite rivers? Keep reading!

For thousands of years, various Native American tribes utilized the New River because it provided a path of travel, water-source, and fertile soil. Since then, European colonists came over to the US and thus ran smack into the New River. From here, recorded names started to evolve for the river.

In 1656 Abraham Woods came across the river. He named it after himself – under the belief that he was the first white man to find the river. So, somewhere down the line the official name changed from the “Woods River” to the current name of the New River. What makes it tricky is that there is some discrepancy about whether or not this was the first official/recognized exploration of the river.

However, in 1642 Walker Austin, Rice Hoe, Joseph Johnson, and Walter Chiles were given permission to “undertake the discovery of of a new river west and southerly from the Appomattox.” Which does very much sound like the New River. So, what may have happened is that the river went from being referred to as “a new river” to the “New River”.

We will probably never know for sure. What would you call the New River if you had a chance to name it??

For a more extensive background, go here!

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