Perhaps fittingly for the most challenging big-water river in its region, the Gauley did not give up its first descent easily. It fought kicking and screaming by nature of its difficulty and its obscurity relative to the New River.
Tucked away in a winding, inaccessible gorge, the Gauley flowed unknown to all but local non-boaters and fishermen until well into the 1950s, when Ray Moore of Alexandria, Virginia, found it. In 1959, he invited a few friends from the Washington, D.C. area, plus two from Pittsburgh, to attempt a run.
One of those Pittsburgh paddlers was Sayre Rodman.