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Mountain State Tours: Marlinton, West Virginia

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One of the smaller county seats in West Virginia, Marlinton traces back its history to Jacob Marlin, who along with Stephen Sewell, became the first non-native settler in the valley back in 1749. But Marlinton would not exist today without the assistance of John McGraw, who purchased land in what was called Marlin’s Bottom in 1890 – which was home to only five families along the banks of the Greenbrier River. In September 1891, McGraw, along with others, founded the Pocahontas Development Corporation and published a plat of the town on December 1. The company then donated a courthouse site to the county, even though the county seat at the time was in Huntersville. A vote on December 8 affirmed the decision by the citizens to relocate the courthouse to Marlinton.

The population was 100 by 1890 and only 171 just a decade later. The development of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O), which was essential to the growth of the town and the proposed timber industry, was slow coming due to the economic turmoil of 1893. During this time, McGraw, along with some New York investors, founded the Rochester Boom and Lumber Company. The United States Leather Company was founded two years later, which only fueled demand for a railroad.

McGraw began to negotiate with the C&O, and in 1897, the Greenbrier Railway Company was chartered by the state. Construction began on the railroad by the C&O in 1899 and was completed to Marlinton in 1900. The town was incorporated during that year.

Marlinton boomed, with the timber industry contributing to most of the rise in population and economic growth. Pocahontas County’s population increased from 8,572 in 1900 to 15,002 in 1920, and Marlinton increased from 171 to 1,177 during the same time period.

Today, the population has decreased to near 1,000. It’s once colorful C&O depot was burned to the ground several years ago, and Marlinton today is a sleepy village along a scenic U.S. Route 219 near West Virginia’s winter playground – Snowshoe and Canaan Valley.









Further Reading

a. Marlinton, West Virginia:

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