March 20, 1864: Skirmish at the Sinks of Gandy

Mar 20, 2017

On March 20, 1864, a Civil War skirmish occurred at the north end of the Sinks of Gandy in Randolph County. In the shootout, Union troops killed three Confederates and recaptured goods the Rebels had stolen from a Tucker County general store.

The Sinks of Gandy is one of our state’s most unusual places.
Credit E-WV / WV Humanities Council

The Sinks of Gandy is one of our state’s most unusual places. Gandy Creek—a tributary of Dry Fork—seems to sink under the earth at a blind valley south of Yokum Knob, flows through a tunnel-like cave, and emerges about three-quarters of a mile downstream. It was famously described and sketched by David Hunter Strother in an article for Harper’s Magazine.

The Sinks may be the most visited wild cave in West Virginia. The cave takes the entire flow of Gandy Creek and can flood at a moment’s instant following a rain. A 1941 story in the Saturday Evening Post recounted how four cavers were trapped in the Sinks for hours.

The Sinks of Gandy have become even more popular in recent years due to the writings of Jack Preble and Martin Null, who wrote an award-winning 2010 short story on the topic.