The Northern Panhandle is a culturally and geographically distinct region in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is the state's northernmost extension, bounded by the Ohio River on the north and west, along with the state of Pennsylvania on the east. Due to the southern boundary being an extension of the Mason-Dixon Line and its proximity to the Pittsburgh area, the Northern Panhandle resembles more of the Midwestern United States or the Northeastern United States compared to the rest of the state, which is classified in the Upland South.
In 2013 its northernmost two counties were included into the Pittsburgh consolidated area by the U.S. Census.
The following counties, listed from north to south, are universally accepted as being part of the Northern Panhandle:
Banks in these counties are serviced by the Cleveland Federal Reserve district, while the rest of West Virginia is in the Richmond district.
Most West Virginians also include Wetzel County, directly to the south of Marshall County, as a part of the Northern Panhandle, although it does not lie strictly within the northern extension.
Important towns within the Northern Panhandle include Wheeling (once the state capital), Weirton, and Moundsville. The region houses three four-year colleges—the public West Liberty University and the private Bethany College and Wheeling Jesuit University. All five counties listed in this article, plus Tyler County, are in the service area of West Virginia Northern Community College.
In the late 19th century, the Northern Panhandle developed as an industrial area, especially in the manufacturing of steel and glass products. It still largely retains its industrial character, although many of its factories have closed down or fallen on hard times like others in the Rust Belt. The region also contains the Panhandle Coalfield.
See also