Monday, May 21, 2018

Episode 421 (5-21-18): Connecting Southwestern Virginia Waters to the Ohio River Through “Ohio Valley Rain” by Cornerstone

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:47).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 5-18-18.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of May 21, 2018.  This is the third of a series of four revisits this month to previous episodes on the watershed connections of western Virginia rivers.

MUSIC – ~ 7 sec

This week, we feature a song and a watershed mystery.  Have a listen for about 40 seconds, and see if you know the Virginia water connection to the theme of this song.

MUSIC - ~43 sec

You’ve been listening to part of “Ohio Valley Rain,” by the Ithaca, New York, band Cornerstone on their 1994 album, “Out of the Valley” from Folk Era Records.  The song mentions Wheeling, West Virginia and the Ohio Valley, so what’s the Virginia water connection?

Southwestern Virginia, starting with the New River watershed, is within the larger watershed or basin of the Ohio River.  About 17 percent of Virginia’s land mass—or about 7200 square miles—lies within the Ohio basin, compared to about 83 percent in watersheds whose waters flow to the Atlantic Ocean, either directly or via the Chesapeake Bay or North Carolina’s Albemarle Sound.  Southwestern Virginia watersheds within the Ohio basin include those of the Big Sandy, Clinch/Powell, Holston, and New rivers, with their waters eventually reaching the Gulf of Mexico.  So when Cornerstone sings of “the [Ohio] river miles below, drinking rain from far away,” that rain could have fallen on Virginia!

Thanks to Cornerstone and songwriters Chris Stuart and Dave Adams for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with a few more seconds of “Ohio Valley Rain.”
MUSIC - ~17 sec


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This episode revises and replaces Episode 108, 4-30-12.

“Ohio Valley Rain” and “Out of the Valley” are copyright Cornerstone and Folk Era Records, used with permission. More information about Cornerstone is available at  This music was previously used in Virginia Water Radio Episode 58, 3-21-11.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


South Fork Holston River near Chilhowie, Va. (Smyth County), October 14, 2013.

New River near Eggleston, Va. (Giles County), August 13, 2016.

Ohio River at Huntington, West Va., Nov. 6, 2011.


The map and information below are from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation,

Virginia’s major river basins (watersheds).  The Virginia portions of the Ohio River basin are shown at the lower left: blue for the New River watershed, purple for the Holston watershed, yellow for the Clinch-Powell watershed, and green for the Big Sandy watershed.

Areas of Virginia’s Major River Basins (Watersheds)

Chesapeake Bay/Atlantic Ocean Basins
Potomac-Shenandoah - 5,702 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Potomac River, Shenandoah River.
Chesapeake Bay Coastal - 2,577 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Chesapeake Bay, Piankatank River.
Atlantic Ocean Coastal – 580 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Chincoteague Bay, Hog Island Bay.
Rappahannock - 2,714 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Rappahannock River, Rapidan River, Hazel River.
York - 2,669 sq. miles – Main water bodies: York River, Pamunkey River, Mattaponi River.
James - 10,236 sq. miles – Main water bodies: James River, Appomattox River, Maury River, Jackson River, Rivanna River.

Albemarle Sound, N.C./Atlantic Ocean Basins
Chowan - 3,675 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Nottaway River, Meherrin River, Blackwater River.
Albemarle Sound Coastal – 577 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Dismal Swamp, North Landing River, Back Bay.
Roanoke - 6,274 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Roanoke River, Dan River, Banister River, Kerr Reservoir.
Yadkin – 118 sq. miles – Main water body: Ararat River.

Ohio River/Gulf of Mexico Basins
New - 3,068 sq. miles – Main water bodies: New River, Little River, Walker Creek.
Holston (Upper Tennessee) - 1,322 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Holston River (three forks).
Clinch – Powell (Upper Tennessee) - 1,811 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Clinch River, Powell River, Guest River.
Big Sandy – 999 sq. miles – Main water bodies: Levisa Fork, Russel Fork, Tug Fork.


State Farm Road Atlas, Rand McNally and Company, Skokie, Ill., 1998.

Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer, DeLorme, Yarmouth, Me., 2000.

Virginia Department of Conservation, “Virginia’s Major Watersheds,” online at

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “New River,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Rivers, Streams, and Other Surface Water” subject category.

Following are links to some other episodes on waters in the Ohio River watershed.
Episode 109, 5/7/12 – “Banks of New River” by Whitetop Mountain Band.
Episode 177, 9/2/13 – “Sandy Boys,” by Sara Grey, for Labor Day.
Episode 179, 9/16/13 – Twenty-two Miles Along the New River Trail.
Episode 232, 9/22/14 – “Samuel Mason” by Andrew and Noah vanNorstrand Recalls a Notorious, Virginia-born River Pirate (on piracy on the Ohio River in the 1800s by Virginian Samuel Mason).
Episode 264, 5/4/15 – A Bird Day on the New River.
Episode 419, 5/7/18 – Meet the Big Sandy Watershed with “Three Forks of Sandy” by Bobby Taylor.
Episode 420, 5/14/18 – Exploring Virginia’s Tennessee River Tributaries Through “Clinch Mountain Quickstep” by Timothy Seaman.


The episode may help with Virginia 2013 Music SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

This episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 – Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Earth Science Course
ES.8 – influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs:

Virginia Studies Course
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.2 – major land and water features of North America, including their importance in history.

World Geography Course
WG.3 – how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.
WG.5 – regions of United States and Canada.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to previous Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250 (1-26-15) – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255 (3-2-15) – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282 (9-21-15) – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309 (3-28-16) – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 332 (9-12-16) – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403 (1-15-18) – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404 (1-22-18) – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406 (2-5-18) – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407 (2-12-19) – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.