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Mercer County

May 15, 2013

One of the southernmost counties in the state, Mercer County was first settled around 1775. The county is named after General Hugh Mercer, a hero of the Revolutionary War.

It would take a century before the county would really begin to grow. In 1881 the Norfolk and Western Railroad began to push lines into the area to transport the vast coal reserves out of the region.

The move created scores of mines and thousands of jobs. Population increased fivefold between 1880 and 1910. Coal production today is less than a third of what it was at its peak.

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Mercer County is home to two state supported colleges. Concord College, which has around 3,000 students is located in Athens. Bluefield State College has a enrollment of around 3,000 also.

Source: The 55 West Virginias: A guide to the State's Counties, by E. Lee North, Published by The West Virginia University Press.

Fact Box

Population: 62,980

Land in square miles: 420

Number of people per square mile: 149.8

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