Buckhannon, West Virginia

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Buckhannon, West Virginia
East Main Street in Buckhannon in 2006
East Main Street in Buckhannon in 2006
Location of Buckhannon, West Virginia
Location of Buckhannon, West Virginia
Coordinates: 38°59′21″N 80°13′27″W / 38.98917°N 80.22417°W / 38.98917; -80.22417Coordinates: 38°59′21″N 80°13′27″W / 38.98917°N 80.22417°W / 38.98917; -80.22417
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Upshur
 • Mayor David McCauley
 • Total 2.83 sq mi (7.33 km2)
 • Land 2.83 sq mi (7.33 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 1,430 ft (436 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 5,639
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 5,645
 • Density 1,992.6/sq mi (769.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 26201
Area code(s) 304, 681
FIPS code 54-11188[4]
GNIS feature ID 1536594[5]
The Upshur County Courthouse in Buckhannon in 2006

Buckhannon is the only incorporated city in, and the county seat of, Upshur County, West Virginia, United States,[6] and is located along the Buckhannon River. The population was 5,639 at the 2010 census. Buckhannon is home to West Virginia Wesleyan College and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, held annually on the third week of May. The city is located 115 miles northeast from the capital city of Charleston and 140 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Sago Mine collapse occurred near Buckhannon on January 2, 2006, resulting in the deaths of 12 of 13 trapped miners. At the time, it was one of the worst mining accidents in the United States for several years and attracted national news coverage.


The city lies in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. The elevation at the county courthouse is 1,432 feet above sea level. Buckhannon is located at 38°59′21″N 80°13′27″W / 38.989237°N 80.224254°W / 38.989237; -80.224254 (38.989237, -80.224254).[7]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.83 square miles (7.33 km2), all land.[1]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 427
1870 475 11.2%
1880 761 60.2%
1890 1,403 84.4%
1900 1,589 13.3%
1910 2,225 40.0%
1920 3,785 70.1%
1930 4,374 15.6%
1940 4,450 1.7%
1950 6,016 35.2%
1960 6,386 6.2%
1970 7,261 13.7%
1980 6,820 −6.1%
1990 5,909 −13.4%
2000 5,725 −3.1%
2010 5,639 −1.5%
Est. 2015 5,657 [8] 0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 5,639 people, 2,148 households, and 1,149 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,992.6 inhabitants per square mile (769.3/km2). There were 2,398 housing units at an average density of 847.3 per square mile (327.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.5% White, 2.1% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.5% of the population.

There were 2,148 households of which 22.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.5% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 46.5% were non-families. 39.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.84.

The median age in the city was 33.1 years. 16.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 25.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 18.9% were from 25 to 44; 22.5% were from 45 to 64; and 17.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 5,725 people, 2,159 households, and 1,180 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,314.2 people per square mile (894.9/km2). There were 2,424 housing units at an average density of 979.8 per square mile (378.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.16% White, 2.01% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.84% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.28% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.96% of the population.

There were 2,159 households out of which 22.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.3% were non-families. 40.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.78.

In the city the population was spread out with 15.5% under the age of 18, 28.1% from 18 to 24, 19.2% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 81.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,421, and the median income for a family was $36,975. Males had a median income of $30,691 versus $18,041 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,959. About 15.8% of families and 24.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.7% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.


Buckhannon takes its name from the nearby Buckhannon River.[10] Historians believe community and river were both named for John Buchannon, a missionary to the area in the 1780s.[11]


The history of Upshur County begins with the settlement of the Buckhannon River Valley. Brothers Samuel and John Pringle were English soldiers serving in the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War) who, in 1761, deserted their post at Fort Pitt (present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). They traveled southward and upstream along the Monongahela and Tygart Valley rivers, continuing up what is now called the Buckhannon River. They were said to have arrived in present-day Upshur County in 1764 and took up living in a huge hollow of an American sycamore. They lived there for three years, living off game and fish. Finally one went out for more ammunition and found the war was over. After his return, they moved to the South Branch settlements. John later went to Kentucky, but Samuel returned to the river valley with his new wife Charity Pringle (née Cutright), her brother John Jr., friends Thomas Hughes, and John and Elizabeth Jackson with their sons George and Edward. (Edward was the grandfather of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.)

The City of Buckhannon was established on January 15, 1816, named after the river. Some accounts say both are named for; others that they are named after early missionary John Buchannon. The city was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in 1852. Buckhannon was part of the Commonwealth of Virginia until the secession of West Virginia on June 20, 1863 during the American Civil War. Because of its near-central geographic location, Buckhannon was long considered a prospective site for the capital. In 1866, the legislature approved a bill including Buckhannon among the choices for capital, but officials decided the river was not wide enough to accommodate desired commerce.

The first courthouse was built in 1854. It also served as an opera house and town hall. Electricity was installed in 1891 to replace oil lamps. The building suffered fire damage in the first six months of electrical service. It was razed in 1898. In its place, a Classical Revival style courthouse, designed by Charleston architect Harrison Albright, was begun in 1899 and completed in 1901. It is still in use today. An annex of the same style was added in 1995. In the cornerstone of the main building is a time capsule filled with turn of the 19th century artifacts.

The Sago Mine Disaster, January 2, 2006, killed 12 and left one survivor. Officials said that a lightning strike in the coal caused the explosion. It was the worst mining disaster in the US since a 2001 disaster in Alabama killed 13 people, and the worst disaster in West Virginia since a 1968 incident that killed 78 people. National and international news crews were in the area for upwards of three days to cover rescue and recovery efforts.


Upshur County and its county seat have maintained a Republican majority since the days of the American Civil War.[citation needed] On May 23, 1861 the voters of Upshur County voted 7 to 3 against secession from the United States.[12] The majority of soldiers from Upshur served in the Union Army, while over 180 soldiers enlisted in the Confederate Army.[13] In the 1864 presidential election, incumbent President Lincoln won the county handily against General McClellan.


Charter of the City of Buckhannon:

The City of Buckhannon is under a Mayor-council government system. The Mayor of the City of Buckhannon serves as a Strong Mayor. He has a seat on the City Council, which includes five additional elected council members. The City Recorder is also an official. The election of the Mayor occurs every four years in the same year as the presidential elections. By law, the City Recorder succeeds to the Office of Mayor acting as the Chief Executive in the event of the sitting Mayor's death or vacancy. The City Recorder also administers the Mayoral Oath of Office.

The City Council for the City of Buckhannon-

  • David McCauley - Mayor (2016 - 2020)
  • Susan Aloi - City Recorder (2016–2018)
  • Mary Albaugh - Council Member - (2014–2018)
  • Pamela M. Cuppari - Council Member - (2016–2020)
  • Robbie Skinner - Council Member - (2016–2020)
  • Clifford J Rylands - Council Member - (2016–2020)
  • David Thomas - Council Member - (2016–2018)


There are a few radio stations and television stations located in Buckhannon. Some transmitters reach to Weston, WV, Elkins, WV, Parkersburg, WV, Morgantown, WV, Martinsburg, WV and Clay, WV.

Buckhannon is also home to a local Leased access Cable television station, Channel 3, which is available to Suddenlink cable subscribers. The station features a community bulletin board with local television advertising and events, as well as religious broadcasting and family television programming.


The institutions of public primary and secondary learning serving the community of Buckhannon are operated by Upshur County Schools.

  • Upshur County Board of Education - its website has news and events with current links to all public, county schools (K-12).[1]
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College is a private institution of higher education situated within the City of Buckhannon.


The climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year round. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Buckhannon has a marine west coast climate, abbreviated "Cfb" on climate maps.[14]

Notable natives and residents[edit]

In other media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  8. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  10. ^ Kenny, Hamill (1945). West Virginia Place Names: Their Origin and Meaning, Including the Nomenclature of the Streams and Mountains. Piedmont, WV: The Place Name Press. p. 135. 
  11. ^ "Upshur County History", West Virginia University
  12. ^ Curry, Richard O. "A House Divided", Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1964
  13. ^ Linger, James Carter "Confederate Military Units from West Virginia", pg. 72
  14. ^ Climate Summary for Buckhannon, West Virginia

External links[edit]