Though central to a rural and forested region, the town of approximately 500 residents is fewer than 20 minutes from Interstate 79 and is some 30 air-miles from the state capital at Charleston, West Virginia.
Elk River Trail State Park runs through Clay near the trail's mid-point. The Buffalo Creek Recreational Trail also joins the state park at Clay.
Clay was incorporated in 1895 and named for orator Henry Clay. It has also formerly been known as "Henry," "Clay Courthouse," and "Marshall," after Chief Justice John Marshall. When Clay County was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1858, the first county court convened at the present site of Clay on what was then the McOlgin farm.
The town is located on the former mainline of the Coal & Coke Railway, which opened in 1905, connecting the valleys of the Monongahela and Potomac rivers of northeastern West Virginia with those of the Kanawha and Little Kanawha in the southwest. The first passenger train that operated between Clay and Charleston was run in 1895.
The town has developed into two sections, both of which are located in narrow bottoms along the river. The first was established and platted at and around the present courthouse. In later years, a section known as Two Run was platted upstream above the mouths of Lower Two Run and Upper Two Run, both smaller tributaries of the Elk.
Lodging near Clay, West Virginia
Parks & Public Recreation
The following parks and public recreation areas are located within 20 miles of Clay.
- Mary Chilton Roadside Park
- Morris Creek Wildlife Management Area
- Wallback Wildlife Management Area
- Elk River Trail State Park
- Buffalo Creek Recreational Trail
By motor vehicle, Clay is located approximately 12 miles south of I-79 at Wallback, West Virginia, 40 miles northeast of Charleston, West Virginia, and 40 miles southwest of Sutton, West Virginia.
Map of Clay, West Virginia
Clay is located in the Heartland Region in central West Virginia.