Beckley, West Virginia
Main Street in downtown Beckley in 2023
Main Street in downtown Beckley in 2023
Flag of Beckley, West Virginia
Official seal of Beckley, West Virginia
Nickname: 
Smokeless Coal Capital[1]
Motto: 
"The Gateway to Southern West Virginia"
Map
Interactive map of Beckley
Beckley is located in West Virginia
Beckley
Beckley
Beckley is located in the United States
Beckley
Beckley
Coordinates: 37°46′41″N 81°11′17″W / 37.77806°N 81.18806°W / 37.77806; -81.18806[2]
CountryUnited States
StateWest Virginia
CountyRaleigh
Government
 • MayorRob Rappold[3][4]
Area
 • City9.51 sq mi (24.63 km2)
 • Land9.50 sq mi (24.60 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
Elevation2,418 ft (737 m)
Population
 • City17,286
 • Density1,821.49/sq mi (703.28/km2)
 • Metro
123,373 (US: 317th)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
25801, 25802, 25926
Area codes304 and 681
FIPS code54-05332
GNIS feature ID1553831[2]
Websitehttp://www.beckley.org/

Beckley is a city in and the county seat of Raleigh County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 17,286 at the 2020 census, making it the ninth-largest city in the state. It is the principal city of the Beckley metropolitan area of Southern West Virginia, home to 115,079 residents in 2020. Beckley was founded on April 4, 1838, and was long known for its ties to the coal mining industry. It is the home of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology, as well as an annex of Concord University and the University of Charleston.[7] It hosts the Beckley VA Medical Center (VAMC)[8] offering comprehensive medical services to veterans. Additionally, the city is home to Raleigh General Hospital and Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital (BARH),[9] both of which provide a wide range of healthcare services to the local and surrounding communities.

Apart from its significance in healthcare, Beckley is renowned for the Tamarack Marketplace. Situated off Interstate 64, Tamarack stands as a cultural cornerstone, showcasing the rich artistic heritage and craftsmanship of West Virginia. This unique venue features work from the state's finest artisans, offering visitors a glimpse into the region's vibrant culture and traditions.[10]

History

Raleigh County Courthouse, part of the Beckley Courthouse Square Historic District

The area surrounding Beckley was long home to many indigenous peoples. Early encounters describe the land as being an ancestral home of the Catawba-speaking Moneton people, who referred to the surrounding area as Okahok Amai, and were allies of the Monacan people.[11] The Moneton's Catawba speaking neighbors to the south, the Tutelo (since absorbed into the Seneca-Cayuga Nation[12]) may have absorbed surviving Moneton communities, and claim the area as ancestral lands. Cherokee and Shawnee and Yuchi peoples also claim the area as included in their traditional lands.[13] Conflicts with European settlers resulted in various displaced Indian tribes settling in West Virginia, where they were known at Mingo, meaning "remote affiliates of the Iroquois Confederacy".[14]

Beckley was named in honor of John James Beckley, who was the first Clerk of the House of Representatives and the first Librarian of Congress. It was founded by his son, Alfred Beckley (US Army lieutenant and brigadier general of Virginia militia), who was from the District of Columbia.

Although founded in 1838, Beckley existed only on paper at that time, "Alfred Beckley said he "was frequently jeered and laughed at for his Paper Town..."[15] Early in its history, the town was known as Beckley, Raleigh Court House, and, occasionally, Beckleyville.

The town was originally located in Fayette County, Virginia. In 1850 the act of the Virginia legislature creating Raleigh County named Beckley the county seat. The city is sometimes called the "Smokeless Coal Capital", "The City of Champions" and the "Gateway To Southern West Virginia."[1][citation needed]

During the presidential primaries of 1960, the vehicles of rivals John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey stopped at the same streetcorner in Beckley. Recognizing each other, the two men got out and chatted briefly.[16]

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.50 square miles (24.60 km2), of which 9.49 square miles (24.58 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.[17]

Geology and topography

The city sits atop the Allegheny Plateau, with the more steeply eroded Logan Plateau bordering to the west and the highland Allegheny Mountains lying to the east.[18] Neighboring ridgelines include Flat Top Mountain to the south, Scott Ridge of Shady Spring Mountain to the southeast, Batoff Mountain to the northeast, and Lilly Mountain to the west.[19]

Water

Beckley is mostly contained in the Piney Creek watershed, which flows into the New River National Park and Reserve. The city is roughly bordered by Piney Creek to the east, and to the south by its tributary Whitestick Creek. Cranberry Creek and its southern tributary Little Whitestick Creek flow through the northern part of the city. The northwestern corner of the city, around Tamarack, includes the headwaters of Paint Creek, another New River tributary. Neighboring watersheds include Glade Creek to the east, headwaters of the Coal River to the west, and headwaters of the Guyandotte River to the southwest.[20]

Climate

Due to its elevation, the climate of Beckley is humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa) bordering on both an oceanic (Köppen Cfb) and humid continental (Köppen Dfa/Dfb), and the city straddles the border between USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6B and 7A.[21] Summers are warm and humid, usually a few degrees cooler than lower-elevation places within the state, with an average of only 1.3 days of a maximum at or above 90 °F (32 °C) annually. Winters are generally cold and snowy with occasional intervening milder periods and an average of 1.4 nights annually with a minimum of 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower.[22] Normal monthly daily mean temperatures range from 32.2 °F (0.1 °C) in January to 71.6 °F (22.0 °C) in July.[22] Snowfall varies with an average of 55.9 inches (142 cm)[22] per season and mostly occurs from December to March with an occasional snowfall in November of (usually) 2–3 inches (5–8 cm). Record temperatures range from −22 °F (−30 °C) on January 21, 1985, up to 103 °F (39 °C) on July 21 and August 11, 1926;[22] the extreme coldest daily maximum was −3 °F (−19 °C) on February 13, 1899, while, conversely, the extreme warmest daily minimum was 79 °F (26 °C) on July 7, 1924, and August 22, 1926.[22] On average, the first and last occurrences of freezing temperatures in the cooler season are October 13 and April 30, respectively, allowing for a growing season of 165 days.[22]

Climate data for Beckley, West Virginia (Raleigh County Airport), 1991–2020 normals,[a] extremes 1896–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 74
(23)
77
(25)
85
(29)
87
(31)
92
(33)
100
(38)
103
(39)
103
(39)
97
(36)
91
(33)
80
(27)
75
(24)
103
(39)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 62.3
(16.8)
64.5
(18.1)
72.8
(22.7)
80.8
(27.1)
83.1
(28.4)
86.1
(30.1)
87.5
(30.8)
86.5
(30.3)
84.6
(29.2)
78.5
(25.8)
71.3
(21.8)
63.6
(17.6)
88.8
(31.6)
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 40.5
(4.7)
44.2
(6.8)
52.5
(11.4)
64.4
(18.0)
71.5
(21.9)
77.8
(25.4)
80.7
(27.1)
79.9
(26.6)
74.4
(23.6)
64.3
(17.9)
53.2
(11.8)
43.9
(6.6)
62.3
(16.8)
Daily mean °F (°C) 32.2
(0.1)
35.4
(1.9)
42.8
(6.0)
53.5
(11.9)
61.3
(16.3)
68.2
(20.1)
71.6
(22.0)
70.5
(21.4)
64.7
(18.2)
54.3
(12.4)
44.0
(6.7)
36.0
(2.2)
52.9
(11.6)
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 24.0
(−4.4)
26.6
(−3.0)
33.1
(0.6)
42.6
(5.9)
51.1
(10.6)
58.7
(14.8)
62.4
(16.9)
61.1
(16.2)
55.0
(12.8)
44.2
(6.8)
34.7
(1.5)
28.0
(−2.2)
43.5
(6.4)
Mean minimum °F (°C) 2.0
(−16.7)
6.5
(−14.2)
12.2
(−11.0)
24.7
(−4.1)
34.9
(1.6)
45.5
(7.5)
52.3
(11.3)
50.8
(10.4)
40.2
(4.6)
27.5
(−2.5)
17.0
(−8.3)
9.1
(−12.7)
−1.0
(−18.3)
Record low °F (°C) −22
(−30)
−20
(−29)
−7
(−22)
8
(−13)
21
(−6)
32
(0)
38
(3)
33
(1)
23
(−5)
9
(−13)
−1
(−18)
−20
(−29)
−22
(−30)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.13
(80)
3.12
(79)
4.03
(102)
3.58
(91)
4.68
(119)
4.30
(109)
5.00
(127)
3.68
(93)
3.20
(81)
2.73
(69)
2.80
(71)
3.29
(84)
43.54
(1,106)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 15.5
(39)
15.2
(39)
8.9
(23)
1.5
(3.8)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
1.4
(3.6)
2.3
(5.8)
11.1
(28)
55.9
(142)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 15.0 14.4 16.2 14.1 15.0 13.7 13.5 11.5 10.0 10.7 11.8 14.6 160.5
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.5 7.2 5.6 1.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 2.8 6.6 32.5
Average relative humidity (%) 74 71 67 62 70 76 78 79 79 73 70 74 73
Source: NOAA (humidity 1981–2010)[22][23][24]

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
1880144
18901589.7%
1900342116.5%
19102,161531.9%
19204,14992.0%
19309,357125.5%
194012,85237.4%
195019,39750.9%
196018,642−3.9%
197019,8846.7%
198020,4923.1%
199018,274−10.8%
200017,254−5.6%
201017,6142.1%
202017,286−1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[25]

2010 census

As of the census[6] of 2010, there were 17,614 people, 7,800 households, and 4,414 families living in the city. The population density was 1,856.1 inhabitants per square mile (716.6/km2). There were 8,839 housing units at an average density of 931.4 per square mile (359.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 72.3% White, 21.2% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.4% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.5% of the population.

There were 7,800 households, of which 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.8% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.4% were non-families. 37.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.85.

The median age in the city was 41.6 years. 20.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.9% were from 25 to 44; 28.5% were from 45 to 64; and 17.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 46.6% male and 53.4% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 17,254 people, 7,651 households, and 4,590 families living in the city.[26] The population density was 1,874.9 people per square mile (724.1/km2). There were 8,731 housing units at an average density of 948.8 per square mile (366.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 73.64% White, 22.89% African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.89% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.74% of the population.

There were 7,651 households, out of which 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.0% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 21.8% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 24.4% from 45 to 64, and 20.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 82.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,122, and the median income for a family was $38,110. Males had a median income of $35,780 versus $23,239 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,912. About 16.4% of families and 20.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.9% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Tamarack Marketplace

The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine is a preserved coal mine that offers daily tours and a history lesson on coal mining in Appalachia. Tamarack Marketplace, a showcase of Appalachian arts and crafts, was built in 1996 at a cost of $10 million and dedicated to former Governor Gaston Caperton.[27] The city also hosts the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia, which includes a planetarium, boxcars and a homestead with a weaver's shed.[28]

Education

Erma Byrd Higher Education Center

Woodrow Wilson High School is Beckley's public high school.

Four universities are located in Beckley: West Virginia University Institute of Technology, University of Charleston-Beckley, and a branch campus of Concord University. Additionally, a branch campus of Valley College is located in Beckley;[29] New River Community and Technical College is in the nearby community of Beaver; and the nonprofit, nondenominational Appalachian Bible College is located just outside the city limits, in nearby Bradley.

Media

Newspaper

The Register Herald, a six-day morning daily newspaper, serves Beckley and the surrounding area. It had a circulation of 19,237 in 2016 and is owned by Community Newspaper Newspaper Holdings.[30] The newspaper traces its history to The Raleigh Register, the Raleigh Herald, and the Beckley Evening Post which were among a dozen weekly and monthly publications published in and around Beckley as early as the 1880s.

Radio

Radio stations based in Beckley include West Virginia Public Broadcasting's WVBY public radio, WJLS (AM), a talk radio and country music station that was a CBS affiliate from 1943 to 1990, WJLS-FM, which syndicates country music,[31] and WCIR-FM,[32] a contemporary radio station based in Downtown Beckley.

Television

Beckley shares a media market with Bluefield and Oak Hill. Stations in this market include ABC affiliate WOAY-TV, NBC affiliate WVVA, and CBS/FOX affiliate WVNS-TV.[33][34] Beckley is also served by West Virginia Public Broadcasting's station WSWP, which carries PBS programming.

Transportation

The city is the regional hub for over 100,000 Southern West Virginia residents. It is the ninth-largest city in West Virginia, exceeded in population by Martinsburg and followed by Clarksburg.

Highways

Rail

Amtrak serves Beckley at Prince Station in Prince as part of the Cardinal line running from Chicago to Washington DC.

Air

Greater Beckley's only airport is Raleigh County Memorial Airport. Raleigh County Memorial Airport is served by Contour Airlines with service to Charlotte and Parkersburg.

Notable people

Politics

Arts

Sports

Other notable individuals

References

  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
  1. ^ a b "Best Small Places for Business and Careers 2019: Beckley, WV". Forbes. October 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Beckley". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  3. ^ "City of Beckley". Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  4. ^ "WV MetroNews – New mayor in Beckley". Wvmetronews.com. January 3, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  5. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  7. ^ Wood, Jim (1994). Raleigh County West Virginia. Beckley, WV: BJW Printing and Office Supplies. p. 76.
  8. ^ "VA Beckley health care". Veterans Affairs. Retrieved February 7, 2024.
  9. ^ "Find a Physician or Specialist". providers.arh.org. Retrieved February 7, 2024.
  10. ^ "Tamarack". Tamarack. Retrieved February 7, 2024.
  11. ^ Emrick, Isaac J. (2015). Maopewa iati bi: Takai Tonqyayun Monyton "To abandon so beautiful a Dwelling": Indians in the Kanawha-New River Valley, 1500-1755 (PhD dissertation). West Virginia University. doi:10.33915/etd.5543. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  12. ^ Vest, Jay Hansford C. (2005). "An Odyssey among the Iroquois: A History of Tutelo Relations in New York". American Indian Quarterly. 29 (1/2): 124–155. doi:10.1353/aiq.2005.0072. JSTOR 4138803. S2CID 201754013.
  13. ^ "Welcome". Native-Land.ca. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  14. ^ Jennings, Francis (December 1993). "Review of A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724-1774 by Michael N. McConnell". The Journal of American History. 80 (3): 1056. doi:10.2307/2080440. JSTOR 2080440.
  15. ^ Wood, p.77
  16. ^ Boothe, Dallas (April 12, 1960). "Stoplight Meeting". West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
  17. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  18. ^ "The Logan Plateau, a Young Physiographic Region in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee" (PDF). U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1620.
  19. ^ "Raleigh County Mountains". PeakVisor. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  20. ^ "West Virginia Watersheds - WV DEP". Archived from the original on November 22, 2011.
  21. ^ "facebook-circle". Arborday.org. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  23. ^ "Station: Beckley Raleigh CO AP, WV". U.S. Climate Normals 2020: U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1991-2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  24. ^ "Local Climatological Data Annual Summary with Comparative Data for Beckley, West Virginia (KBKW)" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 5, 2021. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  25. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  26. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  27. ^ "Homepage". Tamarack Marketplace. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  28. ^ "Youth Museum". Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  29. ^ "Career Training Trade School in West Virginia | Valley College". Valley.edu. June 20, 2014. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  30. ^ 2016 West Virginia Press Association Newspaper Directory (PDF). West Virginia Press Association. 2016.
  31. ^ Josephine Mendez (March 9, 2019). "Celebrating eight decades on the airwaves". The Register-Herald. Beckley, West Virginia. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  32. ^ "Home". 103CIR. Retrieved February 7, 2024.
  33. ^ "For the record: Actions of the FCC–New TV stations–Actions of FCC" (PDF). Broadcasting – Telecasting. November 8, 1954. p. 113.
  34. ^ "Digital TV Market Listing for WVNS". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved January 26, 2017.