Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia
Berkeley, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, and Morgan counties were forced into the new Unionist state of West Virginia in 1863. Shortly after West Virginia gained statehood, Mineral and Grant counties were created from Hampshire and Hardy in 1866.
The Eastern Panhandle includes West Virginia's oldest chartered towns (1762) of Romney and Shepherdstown. The Panhandle also includes West Virginia's two oldest counties: Hampshire (1753) and Berkeley (1772).
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad runs through the panhandle, and was a key transportation link to Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. Harper's Ferry was the site of a U.S. Armory until 1861. The strategic nature of the area influenced its inclusion in West Virginia by the Union Congress.
The question of the constitutionality of forcing two of these counties into joining the new state was brought before the Supreme Court of the United States in the following manner: Berkeley and Jefferson counties, West Virginia, counties lying on the Potomac east of the mountains, in 1863, with the consent of the Reorganized Government of Virginia, had supposedly voted in favor of annexation to West Virginia. However, many voters were absent in the Confederate Army when the vote was taken and Federal troops occupying these counties ensured the outcome they wanted. These Confederate veterans refused to accept the transfer upon their return along with most of the other citizens in the region. The Virginia General Assembly repealed the Act of Secession and in 1866 brought suit against West Virginia, asking the Supreme Court to declare the counties still part of Virginia. The Republican-controlled Congress, on March 10, 1866, passed a joint resolution recognizing the transfer. The Supreme Court, in 1871, also decided in favor of West Virginia.
Yet in recent years, there has been serious talk about the possibility of certain counties in the Eastern Panhandle rejoining the Commonwealth of Virginia. Frustrated by bad economic conditions and what they perceive to be neglect from the Charleston government, this movement has gained at least some momentum. In 2011, West Virginia state delegate Larry Kump sponsored legislation to allow Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson counties to rejoin Virginia by popular vote.
The Eastern Panhandle includes both West Virginia's highest and lowest elevations above sea level: Spruce Knob, 4,863 feet (1,482 m), in Pendleton and Harpers Ferry, 240 feet (73 m), in Jefferson on the Potomac River. The region is separated from the remainder of the state by the Allegheny Front, which separates the Mississippi watershed from that of Chesapeake Bay.
The eight counties in the eastern panhandle are:
According to the 2010 Census, the eight counties of the Eastern Panhandle had a combined population of 261,041, giving the region 11.75% of West Virginia's population. Berkeley County is the Panhandle's most populous county, with an census 104,169 residents (2010). Berkeley also includes the Panhandle's largest city, Martinsburg, with a 2010 census population of 17,227.
Housing growth 
The Eastern Panhandle is West Virginia's fastest-growing region in terms of population and housing. In July 2005, the United States Census Bureau released a list of the top 100 counties according to housing growth. Berkeley County grew 3.95 percent, from 36,365 housing units in 2003 to 37,802 units in 2004. That growth rate was 86th in the nation among the 3,143 United States counties. Jefferson County was not far behind at 88th in the nation. It grew 3.94 percent from 19,381 housing units in 2003 to 20,144 units in 2004.
Building of planned communities surged in the Eastern Panhandle during 2000-2008 with thousands of individual homes, condominiums and townhouses available on the open market. Homeowner associations were deemed responsible for financially supporting their infrastructure, common areas; a servitude borne by the HOA's individual homeowners. Due to the number of questions by homeowners, the Eastern Panhandle Organization of Homeowners Associations, Inc., a non-profit corporation, first registered as the Jefferson County Organization of Homeowners Associations, Inc.; grew from the necessity of answers from and by homeowners. The sole mission of EPOHOA focuses on issues relating to the preservation and promotion of the present and future welfare of homeowners. Synonyms for homeowners associations include, but are not limited to: Homeowners Association (HOA), Planned Community, Subdivision, Common Interest Community (CIC), Common Interest Development (CID), Property Owners Association (POC), Planned Unit Development (PUD).
Largest municipalities 
The majority of the Eastern Panhandle's growing residential developments are located outside city and town boundaries and are not included in the city or town's official population.
NOTE: This list does not include the unincorporated census-designated places of Inwood (pop. 2,954) and Fort Ashby (pop. 1,380). The U.S. Census Bureau does not release estimates for CDPs. The population figures listed are from the 2010 census.
Statistical areas 
|MSA/CMSA||Population (2000)||WV Counties|
|Cumberland, MD-WV MSA||102,008||Mineral|
|Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV MSA||222,771||Berkeley, Morgan|
|Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA||4,796,183||Jefferson|
|Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV CMSA||7,538,385||Berkeley, Jefferson|
|Winchester, VA-WV MSA||102,997||Hampshire|
County information 
|Berkeley||Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt||February 1772||Martinsburg|
|Grant||Ulysses Simpson Grant||February 14, 1866||Petersburg|
|Hampshire||County of Hampshire, England||December 13, 1753||Romney|
|Hardy||Samuel Hardy||December 10, 1785||Moorefield|
|Jefferson||Thomas Jefferson||January 8, 1801||Charles Town|
|Mineral||minerals located in the county||February 1, 1866||Keyser|
|Morgan||General Daniel Morgan||February 9, 1820||Berkeley Springs|
|Pendleton||Edmund Pendleton||December 4, 1787||Franklin|
Places of worship 
- Hampshire County is home to two religious learning centers: the Buddhist Bhavana Society Forest Monastery and Retreat Center in High View and the Global Country of World Peace's Transcendental Meditation Learning Center and Retreat in Three Churches.
Potomac Highlands 
Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Pendleton counties belong to the geographical region of West Virginia known as the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.
See also 
- List of historic sites in Berkeley County, West Virginia
- List of historic sites in Hampshire County, West Virginia
- List of historic sites in Hardy County, West Virginia
- List of historic sites in Morgan County, West Virginia