Place:Upper Falls, Kanawha, West Virginia, United States


NameUpper Falls
TypeCensus-designated place
Coordinates38.3428719°N 81.8442959°W
Located inKanawha, West Virginia, United States     (1742 - Present)

Upper Falls[1] is an unincorporated census designated place (CDP)[2] in Kanawha County, West Virginia, United States.

The Coal River bisects the community and gives it its name from the cascading waters of its Upper Falls.[3]

At 17.2 square miles, Upper Falls is the largest CDP in the state of West Virginia.[4] As of the 2010 census, its population was 3,701.

Upper Falls is in the Charleston, West Virginia metropolitan area.



Upper Falls[5] is located at 38.342872, -81.844296.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the Upper Falls CDP has a total area of 17.2 square miles (44.49 km²), of which, 16.9 square miles (43.84 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.644 km²) of it (1.45%) is water.[6]

The United States National Geodetic Survey control point for Upper Falls is at 38°20′23″N 81°50′20″W.[7]

The United States Geological Survey identifies the community's namesake Upper Falls of Coal River at 38°20′33″N 81°50′29″W.[8]


As of the Census of 2010,[9] there were 3,701 people, 1,458 households, and 1,072 families residing in the community. The population density was 218.6 people per square mile (84.4/km²). There were 1,549 housing units at an average density of 91.7/sq mi (35.3/km²). The racial makeup of the community was 96.8% White, 1.1% African American, 0.4% American Indian and Alaska Natives, 0.3% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.4% of the population.

There were 1,458 households out of which 33.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.3% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 26.5% were non-families. 20.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 2.93.

The community's age distribution was 19.4% under the age of 15, 10.2% from 15 to 24, 25.2% from 25 to 44, 31% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 97.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.


During its history, transportation infrastructure serving Upper Falls has included roads, rail and water transport.


The primary means of transportation throughout the CDP today is by secondary highways.

In a clockwise direction on the map, Coal River Road (Kanawha County Highway 3) intersects the northern boundary of Upper Falls at Tear Drop Lane (private). Dogwood Road (CH 6/6) crosses the northern border at the Armstrong Tunnel. Smith Creek Road (CH 9) encompasses Upper Falls Intersection,[10] Upper Falls Bridge[11] and Upper Falls Crossing[12] and demarcates the CDP to the east at Dry Ridge Road (CH 8). Coal River Road (CH 9/1) bisects Upper Falls, as it also crosses the southern border at the Lincoln County line. Falls Creek Road (CH 3) intersects the southern boundary at the Lincoln County line, as well. Woods Drive (CH 1/3) crosses to the west at the Putnam County line. Finally, Browns Creek Road (CH 1) delimits the CDP at the intersection of Bryants Branch Road (CH 3/3) to the north and proceeds to its terminus at the Midland Trail.[13]


The Coal River subdivision, a CSX Transportation main line, runs parallel to Coal River, dividing Upper Falls from north to south. Its primary use is to transport coal from the Southern West Virginia coalfields to global markets. There was once a railroad station[14] in Upper Falls of the same name.[15]


Coal River is still designated by the federal government as a navigable waterway,[16] though the 19th century system of locks[17] and dams[18] that made commercial transportation possible no longer exists.[19]

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