1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Charleston (West Virginia)

CHARLESTON, the capital of West Virginia, U.S.A., and the county-seat of Kanawha county, situated near the centre of the state, on the N. bank of the Kanawha river, at the mouth of the Elk river, about 200 m. E. of Cincinnati, Ohio, and about 130 m. S.W. of Wheeling. Pop. (1890) 6742; (1900) 11,099, of whom 1787 were negroes, and 353 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 22,996. It is served by the Chesapeake & Ohio, the Toledo & Ohio Central, the Coal & Coke, and the Kanawha & West Virginia (39 m. to Blakeley) railways, and by several river transportation lines on the Kanawha river (navigable throughout the year by means of movable locks) connecting with Ohio and Mississippi river ports. The city is attractively built on high level land, above the river; in addition to a fine customs house, court house and high school, it contains the West Virginia state capitol, erected in 1880. The libraries include the state law library, with 14,000 volumes in 1908, and the library of the state Department of Archives and History, with about 11,000 volumes. Charleston is in the midst of a region rich in bituminous coal, the shipment of which by river and rail constitutes one of its principal industries. Oil wells in the vicinity also furnish an important product for export, and there are iron and salt mines near. An ample supply of natural gas is utilized by its manufacturing establishments; and among its manufactures are axes, lumber, foundry and machine shop products, furniture, boilers, woollen goods, glass and chemical fire-engines. The value of the city’s factory products increased from $1,261,815 in 1900 to $2,728,074 in 1905, or 116.2%, a greater rate of increase than that of any other city (with 8000 or more inhabitants) in the state during this period. The first permanent white settlement at Charleston was made soon after the close of the War of Independence; it was one of the places through which the streams of immigrants entered the Ohio Valley, and it became of considerable importance as a centre of transfer and shipment, but it was not until the development of the coal-mining region that it became industrially important. Charleston was incorporated in 1794, and was chartered as a city in 1870. Since the latter year it has been the seat of government of West Virginia, with the exception of the decade 1875–1885, when Wheeling was the capital.