Charleston, West Virginia

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The statehouse dome rises along the Kanawha in Charleston, West Virginia. Photo courtesy Rick Burgess.

Charleston, West Virginia (WV), is the seat of Kanawha County and capital of . Located along the Kanawha River at its junction with the , Charleston was chartered in 1794 as "Charles Town" and named by town founder George Clendenin for his father, Charles Clendenin. The name was changed to Charleston in 1818.  A lodging, retail, civic, and cultural center, Charleston is the largest city in West Virginia and the center of its largest metropolitan statistical area.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, many villages of indigenous peoples lined the river at the site of the city. Clendenin's Fort, later Fort Lee, a frontier fortress in the late 1700s, stood near the site of the present downtown. Charleston's growth through the 1800s was fueled by the gas and salt industries, which developed at the Kanawha Salines near present-day Malden, West Virginia. The first natural gas well in the U.S. was drilled at the foot of present-day Brooks Street in 1815.

The city was and is a center for hospitality. The , now a luxury office building, was one of many hotels that gained world-wide fame in the city. The highest concentration of hotels in West Virginia continues to be at Charleston.

Lodging near Charleston, West Virginia


Trees shade a Kanawha City avenue

Charleston has traditionally been a transportation center for road, rail, and river traffic. The navigable Kanawha and the lower Elk River join at Charleston, and their valleys have created the paths of least resistance through which the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and expressways I-77, I-79, and I-64 travel. Many historic properties in Charleston, including the Daniel Boone Hotel and the Charleston Municipal Auditorium, have been preserved and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Parks & Public Recreation

The following parks and public recreation facilities are located within 20 miles of the city.

  • Cato Park
  • Coonskin Park
  • Daniel Boone Park
  • Wallace Hartman Nature Preserve
  • North Charleston Recreation Center
  • Dunbar City Park (Dunbar, WV)
  • Shawnee Regional Park (Dunbar, WV)
  • Wine Cellar Park (Dunbar, WV)
  • Jefferson Park (South Charleston, WV)
  • Little Creek Park (South Charleston, WV)
  • Saint Albans City Park (Saint Albans, WV)

[vc_message style="square" message_box_color="mulled_wine" css_animation="fadeIn"]Charleston is a favorite haunt of ghost hunters and is numbered among the most haunted locales in West Virginia. According to West Virginia Ghosts, a handful of  have become legendary.[/vc_message]

Photos of Charleston & Vicinity


Charleston is located approximately 50 miles east of Huntington, West Virginia, 75 miles south of Parkersburg, West Virginia, 60 miles northwest of Beckley, West Virginia, and 125 miles southwest of Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Map of Charleston, West Virginia

Regional Information

Charleston is located in the Metro Valley Region of western West Virginia.

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