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Raleigh County

May 15, 2013

The rugged terrain plus the lack of navigable streams and roads made early develop difficult in the area of West Virginia that would become Raleigh County.

Families began moving into plateau region in the county around 1837. These settlements would form the basis of the modern town of Beckley.

The county was formed in 1850 from a section of Fayette County and is named in honor of Sir Walter Raleigh.

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The terrain made farming in the region difficult, so the early economy was based on lumber and then later on coal. Coal would remain king until the 1950s when changes in the coal industry forced a lot of the smaller mines out of business.

The county became more diversified and continues to grow today with a strong manufacturing, retail and service industry.

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: 79,220

Land in square miles: 607

Number of people per square mile: 130.5

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