Wheeling Wv History

Have you ever heard of Wheeling, WV? It’s a city with a story that goes way back in time. Long before your parents or even your grandparents were born, Wheeling was already on the map!

Located by the Ohio River, Wheeling was like a crossroads. People and goods moved by water and land, making the city buzz with activity. It was a big deal back in the days when trains and boats were the coolest ways to travel.

Wheeling started out as a settlement in the late 1700s. Imagine living in a time without cars, phones, or video games! That’s how life was in Wheeling’s early days. But this place was special because it was about to play a huge role in America’s story.

Wheeling’s Founding and Early History

When Wheeling was first settled, it was part of Virginia. This was before West Virginia became its own state! Imagine that?

People called the Delaware Indians lived on this land first. Later, folks from other places came and set up homes, stores, and roads.

A big moment for Wheeling was when Fort Henry was built. It was important for protecting the town. Sometimes there were battles and the people had to be brave.

Wheeling was named after a word that the Delaware Indians used. It meant “place of the head” because they found the head of a deer by the river. Pretty wild, huh?

By 1806, something really cool happened. They built a road called the National Road. It went all the way to Maryland! Travelers and traders used it a lot to move things back and forth.

The city grew bigger and bigger. Soon, it had the first bank in West Virginia. Can you believe it? Money was kept safe and businesses could grow because of that bank.

Establishment of the Settlement

The very first people to call Wheeling home were Native Americans. They lived off the land, fishing in the river and hunting in the forests.

Then came the pioneers, folks from far away who wanted to start a new life. They built cabins and started the town of Wheeling in 1769.

Wheeling got its name from a Native American word, “Weelunk,” which means “place of the head” or “place of the skull.” It sounds a bit scary, but it’s just a part of its history.

In 1787, Virginia said, “Okay, Wheeling, you’re an official town now.” That meant Wheeling was growing up and getting more important.

When the United States was a brand new country, Wheeling was right at the edge of the wild west. It was the last stop for many people before they went out to explore and settle new lands.

Wheeling was also a big spot for people fighting for freedom in a war called the American Revolution. Soldiers marched through and even built a fort called Fort Henry.

By the 1830s, Wheeling was rocking and rolling. They started building things like the National Road, which was like a super highway of the time. Imagine a road that helped everyone go places quicker—that was the National Road for people back then.

If you want to learn more cool facts about Wheeling’s past, you can visit the Heritage Port or the Wheeling Heritage websites. They have awesome stories and pictures that bring history to life!

Strategic Importance During the Colonial Era

Alongside the river, Wheeling started to buzz with new shops and houses. People were making a home in this new place where they could trade and live together.

Boats were super important for Wheeling. The Ohio River was like a busy road in the water. People and goods moved on the river, making Wheeling a center for trading.

Wheeling had ups and downs just like any town. One big down was a fire in 1851. It burned a lot of Wheeling, but the people didn’t give up. They rebuilt the town, making it even better.

The people of Wheeling didn’t just build their town with bricks and wood; they built it with their cultures, too. Many came from places like Germany and Ireland, and they brought their own styles and foods.

Wheeling became famous for something else: glass. Lots of glass factories opened up. This made the town a big deal in the glass world. If you used a piece of glass, it might have been from Wheeling!

The town kept growing, and they decided they needed a bridge. In 1849, the Wheeling Suspension Bridge was finished. It was the biggest suspension bridge in the world at that time. That’s like having the coolest, longest skateboard in the neighborhood!

If you’re ever in Wheeling, you can still see lots of old buildings. They help tell the story of this town and its people. It’s like walking through a history book!

Early Economic Development

Long ago, before Wheeling was a city, it was just land with trees and rivers. Native American tribes lived there and called it home.

In 1769, a man named Ebenezer Zane found the place. He thought it was perfect to start a town. So, he got the land ready for people to come and live.

People started to come to Wheeling in 1787. It was named after a Native American word “Weelunk,” which means “place of the head” or “place of the skull.”

It wasn’t easy for the first people in Wheeling. They had to be tough. They built homes, fought for their land, and worked hard to make a life there.

One cool thing in Wheeling’s past was Fort Henry. It was a big wooden fort. People inside the fort protected it from attacks. It’s a big part of Wheeling’s brave history.

Wheeling was really growing by 1806. That’s when it became an official city. More people, more houses, and more stores were popping up. The city was on its way!

Wheeling During the Civil War

When the Civil War started, Wheeling didn’t want to be part of the South. The people living there were against slavery.

So, Wheeling did something brave. In 1861, they made a new state called West Virginia. This state was on the side of the North.

During the war, Wheeling was super important. It was the capital of West Virginia. This meant it was the city where the state’s leaders worked.

Trains in Wheeling were busy. They carried soldiers, guns, and food for the war. The city helped the North a lot.

People in Wheeling didn’t just watch the war. Many joined to fight for the North. They wanted to help make the country better.

After the war, Wheeling started to heal. It went back to building things and making stuff like glass and nails. These were big jobs back then.

Wheeling also remembers the war today. There’s a place called West Virginia Independence Hall. You can visit and learn all about what happened.

If you want to know more about West Virginia Independence Hall, you can find information at this link.

The Wheeling Conventions

During the Civil War, Wheeling played a big role. The state of Virginia, where Wheeling is located, decided to split. The east part wanted to stay with the south, but the west part, including Wheeling, didn’t.

So, in 1861, people from the west side met in Wheeling. They talked for a long time and made a big choice. They decided to break away and make a new state.

Wheeling became the birthplace of the state of West Virginia. It was like a new beginning. West Virginia joined the north in the Civil War and fought against slavery.

Back then, Wheeling was a busy place. It had factories that made things for the war. Trains would come and go, carrying soldiers and supplies. The city was full of energy and people working together for a cause.

West Virginia became a state on June 20, 1863. Wheeling was chosen as the first capital. It was a proud moment for the people living there.

After the war, Wheeling kept growing. The city built new buildings and roads. It became known for its glass factories. People from all over came to work and live in Wheeling.

Today, we remember Wheeling’s part in the Civil War. It was a time of big decisions and changes. The city helped make a new state and a new future for its people.

Statehood for West Virginia

Wheeling was a key spot during the Civil War. It was important because of its location. The city was near the Ohio River, which was a main route for travel and trade.

Many people in Wheeling did not like slavery. They wanted to be free from Virginia’s laws that supported it. This feeling was strong in the area.

Soldiers trained in Wheeling before they went to fight. There was a place called Camp Carlile where they learned how to be soldiers. Many of them had never been far from home before.

Wheeling also had a place called the Custom House. During the war, it was the capital building for the new state. People came here to make plans for West Virginia’s future.

The city saw lots of changes during those years. Some were exciting, but others were hard. Families sometimes had to say goodbye to their loved ones joining the war.

Even children had roles in Wheeling during the war. Boys too young to fight would help around the city. Girls would make things to send to the soldiers.

After the war ended, the people of Wheeling worked hard to bring the city back to life. They didn’t give up, and their efforts paid off as Wheeling began to thrive again.

When you visit Wheeling today, you can see places that were part of the history. There is a big building called the Wheeling Suspension Bridge that soldiers used to cross the river. It’s still there and reminds us of the past.

Stories of the Civil War are part of Wheeling’s history. It’s how the city helped shape West Virginia. It shows us how people can come together for what they believe is right.

Post-War Reconstruction and Effects

In Wheeling during the Civil War, the B&O Railroad was very busy. Trains carried soldiers, supplies, and equipment. This helped the Union army a lot.

Another important place was the Athenaeum. It was used as a prison during the war. Both Union and Confederate soldiers were held there.

Wheeling was not just for fighting. It was also a place for healing. There was a big hospital called Wheeling Hospital. Injured soldiers from many battles were cared for there.

The women in Wheeling did their part, too. They gathered food and warm clothes for soldiers. They also wrote letters to make the soldiers feel better.

Some famous people came to Wheeling during the war. They gave speeches to support the soldiers and the new state of West Virginia.

When you walk through Wheeling, think about its stories. The old buildings and streets were part of something big. They helped make history during the Civil War.

Industrialization and Urban Growth

After the Civil War, Wheeling grew bigger and busier. Factories started popping up all over the place. They made things like nails and glass that people used every day.

Because of these factories, more people came to work in Wheeling. Some of these workers came from faraway countries. They all helped the city to grow fast.

Trains and steamboats made it easy to move stuff from Wheeling to other places. This helped the factories sell more and make more money.

Houses, schools, and stores were built for all the new people. This was the time when Wheeling really started to look like a big city.

During this time, folks could also have fun. They went to places like Wheeling Park to relax. The park had a lake, a pavilion for music, and lots of space to play.

Even kids worked back then. They had jobs in factories, but they also went to school. Education was important for a better future.

The Rise of the Steel Industry

After the Civil War, Wheeling, WV began to grow really fast. Factories started popping up all over because of the Ohio River and railroads.

People made things like nails, glass, and cigars. These items were shipped to other places, which made the city very busy and wealthy.

A lot of workers came to Wheeling to find jobs. They came from other states and even different countries.

Neighborhoods got bigger and schools had to be built for all the kids. Shops opened to sell things to the new people in town.

In 1871, something big happened. The Wheeling Suspension Bridge was finished, and it was the longest in the world at that time. People were amazed and it helped even more with moving things across the river.

Weirton, WV, and Steubenville, OH, also saw a lot of new factories. They made steel that helped build things all over the country.

These cities along the Ohio River became very important for making stuff that the United States needed to grow.

Everything changed a lot because of the busy factories. The Ohio Valley was filled with smokestacks and the sound of whistles from the plants. It was a sign of people working hard.

If you’re interested and want to learn more about the cool history of Wheeling and how it grew, you can visit the Wheeling Heritage website for stories and pictures!

Transportation: Railroads and the Ohio River

Back in the old days, Wheeling was known for its big wheeling steel mills. These mills helped build America by making lots of steel that was used for buildings and bridges.

Because of all the work in the mills, Wheeling got the nickname “Nail City.” They made so many nails there, it was like they could nail together the whole country!

When the factories were going full speed, the city kept growing. More people moved in to be near the jobs. This made Wheeling a really important place.

Some folks started their own businesses, like little stores or places to eat. This helped Wheeling feel like a real community where everyone had a part to play.

Life back then wasn’t easy though. The work was tough and the days were long. But it made Wheeling strong, like the steel they were making.

Over in Weirton and Steubenville, things were booming too. They were right next to each other and both cities were busy making steel for all over the place.

Together, these cities along the river made a team. They were like neighbors helping each other be the best at making steel.

Now, even though the big mills aren’t so busy anymore, these cities remember the hard work that made them great. They keep those memories alive in museums and old buildings that still stand.

Population Boom and City Expansion

Many years ago, factories in Wheeling were super busy. These places where they made things from steel were called foundries.

People came from far away to work in Wheeling. They came because they heard they could get jobs in the factories.

Trains and boats carried the steel from Wheeling to other places. This helped other cities and towns grow too.

Big buildings were built in Wheeling because of the factories. These buildings were places where people worked and shopped.

Workers lived close to the factories to save time. They walked to work and didn’t need cars or buses. This is how neighborhoods started.

Some workers were very good at making things by hand. They made special items that people wanted to buy.

Kids back then often worked too. They helped their families by working in small jobs after school.

Even though the work was hard, people were proud of what they did. They felt good about making things that others needed.

Today, we can still see some old factories in Wheeling. They remind us of how the city helped build America.

Every year, people in Wheeling celebrate their history with a big festival. They share stories and show kids how things were made long ago.

What happened in Wheeling changed many lives. It’s a story about how work can bring people together and make a place special.

Modern Wheeling

Now, Wheeling looks different than before. The old factories aren’t as busy, but we have new places to work and play.

Wheeling has a big park with a lake where families can have picnics and go fishing. It’s called Wheeling Park, and people love it very much.

Schools in Wheeling teach kids about computers and science. We don’t just learn about making steel but lots of new things too.

There are also places to learn about art and history in Wheeling. The Oglebay Institute’s museums teach us about our city’s past.

Shops and restaurants are in a part of town called Centre Market. People can buy things from local shops and eat different kinds of food.

Wheeling also has a college called Wheeling University. Students from many places come to learn and become smart grown-ups.

The city still has bridges and roads from long ago. They help us remember how people used to travel and trade things.

We have special days when we honor people that did great things for Wheeling. This helps us remember their stories and be proud of them.

Families still talk about the time when Wheeling made lots of steel. It’s important to them, and they share it with their kids and friends.

Even though Wheeling has changed, the feeling of being a strong community is still here. People help each other and work together to make the city better.

Economic Diversification

Now, Wheeling looks different than the old days. Big shopping malls aren’t as common anymore. People like to shop online or in smaller stores.

The city has a walking trail now. It’s called the Wheeling Heritage Trail. Families and friends walk and bike there a lot.

Sometimes people find old things under the ground. These artifacts tell us more about the history of Wheeling.

Wheeling has a college called Wheeling University. Students from all over come to learn there.

The city also has festivals where music and food are the stars. The Upper Ohio Valley Italian Festival is one everyone loves.

There’s a big bridge in Wheeling, too. It’s called the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. It’s very old and important.

Wheeling loves sports. Hockey and baseball games are fun to watch. Families enjoy rooting for their favorite teams.

They also have a place called the Capitol Theatre. Here, people watch plays, concerts, and other shows.

The Ohio River still flows by Wheeling, like a ribbon tying the past to the present. Boats still travel on it, but not like they used to.

Wheeling’s story is still being written. Kids learn about it in school so they can keep telling it to others.

Cultural Heritage Preservation

Wheeling is buzzing with new things. The downtown area is getting cooler every day! Old buildings are becoming places for new shops and yummy restaurants. People visit from nearby towns to check them out.

Art is big in Wheeling now. There is street art that makes the city colorful. Murals and sculptures can be found all over. Even the buses have art on them!

Kids play in parks with lots of trees and playgrounds. Waterfront Park is a favorite because it’s right next to the river. Everyone loves the splash pad there on sunny days.

In autumn, the city hosts a big pumpkin festival. Carving pumpkins and hayrides are a blast! People sip on hot apple cider and tell stories.

Wheeling has started growing more of their own food. Community gardens are popping up. Fresh veggies and fruits are shared with neighbors.

In winter, there’s an ice rink downtown. Kids and grown-ups skate together, laughing and having a good time. Hot chocolate stands keep everyone warm.

The riverfront gets magical with lights during festivals. Strolling by the water with lights twinkling makes the night special. It’s a perfect place for family photos.

Once in a while, a movie is filmed in Wheeling. This is exciting for everyone! Some locals even get to be in the movie as extras.

Every year, students in Wheeling do projects on the city’s history. They find out interesting facts and share with their classmates. It helps keep Wheeling’s story alive.

Wheeling is a mix of the past and the future. It’s a place where history is not just in books but all around us. It’s a great city to be a part of!

Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities

Wheeling loves sports! Soccer and baseball games are fun for families to watch. Teams from schools and communities play against each other.

There’s a big bridge in Wheeling called the Wheeling Suspension Bridge. It’s very old and important. People walk across to see the views.

The Capitol Theatre brings music to life. Concerts and shows happen here. People from all around come to see performers on stage.

River cruises on the Ohio River are popular. Boats take people on tours. They learn about the river and see Wheeling from the water.

Every summer, Wheeling has a huge parade. Fire trucks, bands, and floats travel through the streets. Crowds cheer and wave flags.

There’s a place called Heritage Port. It has a big clock and lots of events. Festivals, races, and outdoor movies bring people together here.


Wheeling, WV has a cool history. Long ago, it was a new frontier. People were brave and moved here to start a new life.

Wheeling was also a big spot during the Civil War. The state of West Virginia was born here. That’s a huge deal!

Towns grow and change, just like people. Wheeling has old buildings and new ideas. It’s a mix of yesterday and today.

Remember, Wheeling’s history is special. It’s like a storybook with many chapters. Each part is important for the whole story.