The 1985 flood had a big impact on the whitewater rafting business and affected everyone who paddled the river in canoes and kayaks. It struck near the end of the “Glory Days” of Cheat River Rafting, when outfitters were guiding roughly 40,000 people down the river each year. In1976 I joined the springtime frenzy as a part time guide, working in Philadelphia and driving out on weekends to help “the boys” at Mountain Streams and Trails run their trips.
Although the Cheat River is the largest undammed watershed east of the Mississippi it hadn’t flooded in living memory. We talked with Albright residents and no one could remember a seeing the water wash across St. Joe Road. The river in the canyon was thickly vegetated, with rhododendron overhanging the river’s edge. The flood took us all by surprise.