By Damian Sofsian
Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, is also its largest city. It is situated in the Kanawha County, specifically at the confluence of Kanawha and Elk Rivers. It has a total land area of 31.6 mi˛ and an estimated population of 51,685 as of 2004.
As West Virginia’s capital, Charleston is one of the state’s busiest cities. Together with its nearby communities, it forms the heart of West Virginia’s largest industries, including chemical, coal, lumber milling, metal, mining, oil refining, and manufacturing industries.
The city is rich in natural resources, especially in coal and natural gas. Out of 50 states, West Virginia comes in terms of coal production. Currently, the state’s coal production comprises 15 percent of United States’ total coal production.
West Virginia’s extensive coal resources are also used to service the state’s major electrical needs. Only a little less than 1 percent of its electrical supply comes from natural gas, oil and water resources.
Aside from its booming industries, Charleston attracts visitors and permanent settlers through its vibrant history and culture.
The city’s history dates back to 1794 when it was officially founded by the Virginia General Assembly. It was first called “Charles Town,” but was later changed to Charleston to prevent confusion with Charles Town, the seat of Jefferson County.
It was named after the father of Col. George Clendenin. Col. Clendenin bought the 1,250 acre-land now known as Charleston from the Bullitt family in 1774.
Charleston was officially named the capital of West Virginia in 1877, although it was already considered as the state capital since West Virginia’s proclamation as a state in 1863.
Today, many festivals and cultural activities are held in the city throughout the year, including the Vandalia Festival in May, Multifest in August, and Sternwheel Regatta in September. These festivals showcase Charleston’s ethnic diversity, varied cultures and old traditions.
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