"Charleston" Top 5 Page for this destination West Virginia Favorite Tip by traveldave
West Virginia Favorites: 36 reviews and 44 photos
Favorite thing: The city that would one day become Charleston began in 1787 by the establishment of Fort Lee at the strategic confluence of the Kanahwa and Elk rivers. The fort was built by Colonel George Clendenin and his company of Virginia Rangers. The small settlement that grew up around the fort was named Charles Town after Clendenin's father Charles. The name was later shortened to Charleston to avoid confusion with another Charles Town in what is now West Virginia.
Charleston was incorporated as a city by the Virginia General Assembly in 1794. At that time, the population was 35. The city soon began to grow after the discovery of salt deposits in the area. Charleston was the world's largest producer of salt by the early 1880s. While drilling for salt in 1815, natural gas was discovered, and in 1817 coal was discovered in the area.
During the American Civil War, the Battle of Charleston was fought in 1862. Although the Confederate Army won the battle, Union troops captured the city six weeks later, and it remained under the control of the North during the remainder of the war.
The state of Virginia had seceded from the Union to join the Confederacy. However, most of the population of what is now West Virginia had Union sympathies, and in 1863, West Virginia broke away from Virginia to become a new state. For the next few years, the capital shifted between Wheeling and Charleston. In 1877, the issue was decided by a popular vote, and Charleston officially became the state capital.
After statehood, the Charleston area continued to grow in population. Railroad expansion and the exploitation of such natural resources as coal, natural gas, chemicals, steel, and timber led to economic growth as well. Nowadays, Charleston is the largest city in the state, with about 310,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area.
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