West Virginia Communities

Harpers Ferry, WV, communities,
Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights

West Virginia is unique among states in its patterns of community development -- patterns largely determined by terrain and the availability of resources such as oil, gas, salt, coal, and timber. In the early 1900s, railroads penetrated deep into its interior in search of extractible wealth, though by the turn of the 21st century the tide of industrialism had ebbed, leaving behind a landscape of small communities in a singular rural environment.

Cities & Towns

The smallest unit of local government recognized in West Virginia is the incorporated community or municipality, also known as a town or city. Towns and cities operate independently of the counties in which they are located and maintain their own governments.

Counties

West Virginia is divided into 55 counties, most of which were established before West Virginia was created in 1863. Most county bounds encircle a territory principally defined by ridges and river drainage areas. Most counties in West Virginia are relatively rural.

Regions

West Virginia has been divided into many complex regions over time and by different agencies. Our editorial department has arranged the state into 12 regions based on cultural patterns and geographic determinants.

West Virginia

Though diverse, the State of West Virginia itself may be approached as a distinct community as a result of its controversial creation during a period of political upheaval and its condition as the only state located wholly within the Appalachian region of the eastern U.S.


Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVBs)

WV CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) agents are available to help plan travel statewide.
Convention & Visitors Bureaus

Are you searching for travel information specific to a West Virginia region? The friendly folks at West Virginia's convention-and-visitors bureaus are available to help arrange vacations specific to our various communities, whether you're planning a short trip for yourself or an extended stay for a large group. Find a CVB now to help you plan your trip.


Patterns of Community Growth in West Virginia

Jefferson Bridge into Fairmont, WV, Marion County, Monongahela Valley Region
Jefferson Bridge into Fairmont

As might be expected, the most populous communities in West Virginia -- Wheeling, Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg, and Morgantown -- developed along rivers, which accommodated transportation and water power. Extractive industries, such as mining and timbering, saw the birth of communities that quickly waxed and waned, most particularly in rugged mountain regions. Many of these latter communities are now ghost towns, and others have entirely disappeared.

Two official forms of community that are recognized by West Virginia law are counties and incorporated communities, also known as towns or cities.

Ethnic Communities in West Virginia

Orthodox Church at Weirton, WV, Hancock County, Northern Panhandle Region
Steel Church at Weirton, WV

The first European settlers in West Virginia were most usually of Scots, English, and Scots-Irish descent. Many retreated far back into the highland forest and became a mountain people, braving harsh conditions in virtual isolation. Others farmed the fertile valleys. During the American Industrial Revolution, African-Americans and European-Americans of many ethnic origins arrived to work in mines and factories in and near its northern and southern coalfields and in forests throughout the state. In the late 1900s, many International residents moved to the state, settling especially in its largest cities. As a result, West Virginia is home to many diverse ethnic communities.

Communities News

A young West Virginia farmer tends a greenhouse crop.

Statewide agriculture competition to reward student innovation

The Robert C. Byrd Institute at Marshall University and a statewide group of partners are announcing the fifth-annual Student Agriculture Innovation Challenge to encourage...
A ghost hunter explores an allegedly haunted location in West Virginia.

Website launches interactive map of W.Va. ghost stories

Need help finding a ghost? Ghost hunters who are exploring West Virginia will have an easier time sharing and investigating experiences thanks to a...
Wheeling Suspension Bridge, Wheeling, WV, Ohio County, Mid-Ohio Valley Region

Historic suspension bridge at Wheeling to be restored

Gov. Jim Justice and the West Virginia Division of Highways have announced that a project to repair and rehabilitate the historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge...
The class will collect folklore from the region, attempt to understand the collected samples, and compile the regional treasures into a book.

New River college sets fall Appalachian writing class

New River Community and Technical College will offer an Appalachian Folklore and Heritage Writing class at its Nicholas County Campus in Summersville, West Virginia,...
Endangered historic structures such as those in downtown Beckley will benefit from increased funding through the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.

National Park Service awards W.Va. preservation alliance $550,000

The National Park Service has awarded the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia a $550,000 Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant to help preserve endangered historic...