Charleston WV is the capital and the largest city of the state, located on the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers in Kanawha County. As of 2013, it had a population of 50,821, while its metropolitan area had 224,743 and is the center of government, commerce, and industry for the state as its known as “the cultural, recreational and business capital of the Appalachian Mountain region”. In addition to being a gateway city for the recreational opportunities in the mountains and rivers throughout the surrounding region, Charleston is a destination in and of itself for culture, recreation, fun and exciting experiences for the whole family and all your friends.
“Charleston is quite a pretty place,” observed a Gallipolis Dispatch journalist in 1861. “It is located on the beautiful bottom on the northeast bank of the river and is entirely surrounded by lofty hills.” The description is as true today as it was in 1861.
After the American Revolutionary War, pioneers began making their way out from the early settlements including the western part of Virginia. The first permanent settlement, Ft. Lee, was built in 1788. In 1773, 1250 acres deeded to Thomas Bullitt and then sold to Col. George Clendenin in 1786. Historical conjecture indicates that Charleston is named after Col. Clendenin’s father, Charles. Charles Town was later shortened to Charleston to avoid confusion with another Charles Town in eastern West Virginia, which was named after George Washington’s brother Charles. In 1791, Daniel Boone was a member of the Kanawha County Assembly. Daniel Boone, who was commissioned a lieutenant colonel of the Kanawha County militia, was elected to serve in 1791 in the Virginia House of Delegates. As told in historical accounts, Boone walked all the way to Richmond.
Early industries important to Charleston included salt and the first natural gas well. Later, coal became central to economic prosperity in the city and the surrounding area. Today, trade, utilities, government, medicine, and education play central roles in the city’s economy. Notable companies headquartered in the Charleston area include Appalachian Power, Mountaineer Gas Company, MATRIC, City National Bank, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston Stamping and Manufacturing, Tudor’s Biscuit World, Walking Machinery, West Virginia-American Water Company, West Viriginia Power, Yeager Airport, McLaughlin Air National Guard Base of the West Virginia Air National Guard, West Virginia University, WVU Institute of Technology (aka West Virginia Tech), Marshall University, and West Virginia State University. Natural resources, such as coal and natural gas, along with railroadexpansion also contributed to growth. New industries, such as chemical, glass, timber and steel migrated to the state, attracted by the area’s natural resources.
Hip, Historic, Almost Heaven…Charleston, West Virginia, is steeped in historic architecture, an eclectic music scene, bountiful shopping, unique dining and four seasons of changing mountain landscape. There’s plenty to do and see in Charleston! The city is full of shopping, arts and culture, history, sports and family friendly fun. Charleston provides plenty of “sit back and relax” activities, great entertainment and is the gateway to adventure. Independently owned restaurants, many with ethnic roots, provide travelers a menu of dining options for any budget. Charleston’s chefs embrace local flavor and put their love of food in every bite. The capital city serves as the gateway to all that is wild and wonderful in the Mountain State, including snow skiing, world-class zip-line canopy tours, whitewater rafting, ATV trails, golfing, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, canoeing, and kayaking – all within an hour’s drive or less.
Many festivals and events were also incorporated into the calendar, including Multifest, Vandalia Festival, a July 4 celebration with fireworks at Haddad Riverfront Park, and the already popular Sternwheel Regatta, which was founded in 1970, provided a festive atmosphere for residents to enjoy. In 2005 FestivALL Charleston was established and has grown into a ten-day festival offering a variety of performances, events and exhibits in music, dance, theatre, visual arts and other entertainments.
Charleston is the home of the West Virginia Power (formerly the Charleston Alley Cats and the Charleston Wheelers) minor league baseball team, the West Virginia Wild minor league basketball team, and the annual 15-mile Charleston Distance Run.