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Buckhannon, West Virginia
East Main Street (2006)
East Main Street (2006)
Named after Native American Indian Chief Buckongahelas
Location in Upshur County and West Virginia
Location in Upshur County and West Virginia
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Upshur
 • Total 2.85 sq mi (7.38 km2)
 • Land 2.85 sq mi (7.38 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,430 ft (436 m)
 • Total 5,639
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,893.30/sq mi (731.03/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 304, 681
FIPS code 54-11188
GNIS feature ID 1536594
Baltimore and Ohio employees magazine (1912) (14738560576)
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad "Blue Goose" in Buckhannon, 1914
Upshur County Courthouse Buckhannon
The Upshur County Courthouse in Buckhannon, 2006

Buckhannon is the only incorporated city in, and the county seat of, Upshur County, West Virginia, United States, and is located along the Buckhannon River. The population was 5,639 at the 2010 census. The city is located 60 miles southwest of Morgantown, 115 miles northeast of the capital city of Charleston, 140 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and 220 miles west of Washington, D.C. Buckhannon is home to West Virginia Wesleyan College and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, held annually during the third week of May.


The history of Upshur County begins with the settlement of the Buckhannon River Valley. Brothers Samuel and John Pringle were English soldiers serving in the French and Indian War (Seven Years' War) who, in 1761, deserted their post at Fort Pitt (present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). They traveled southward and upstream along the Monongahela and Tygart Valley rivers, continuing up what is now called the Buckhannon River. They were said to have arrived in present-day Upshur County in 1764 and took up living in a huge hollow of an American sycamore. They lived there for three years, living off game and fish. Finally one went out for more ammunition and found the war was over. After his return, they moved to the South Branch settlements. John later went to Kentucky, but Samuel returned to the river valley with his new wife Charity Pringle (née Cutright), her brother John Jr., friends Thomas Hughes, and John and Elizabeth Jackson with their sons George and Edward. (Edward was the grandfather of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.)

The City of Buckhannon was established on January 15, 1816, named after the river. Some accounts say both are named for; others that they are named after early missionary John Buchannon. The city was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in 1852. Buckhannon was part of the Commonwealth of Virginia until the secession of West Virginia on June 20, 1863 during the American Civil War. Because of its near-central geographic location, Buckhannon was long considered a prospective site for the capital. In 1866, the legislature approved a bill including Buckhannon among the choices for capital, but officials decided the river was not wide enough to accommodate desired commerce.

The first courthouse was built in 1854. It also served as an opera house and town hall. Electricity was installed in 1891 to replace oil lamps. The building suffered fire damage in the first six months of electrical service. It was razed in 1898. In its place, a Classical Revival style courthouse, designed by Charleston architect Harrison Albright, was begun in 1899 and completed in 1901. It is still in use today. An annex of the same style was added in 1995. In the cornerstone of the main building is a time capsule filled with turn of the 19th century artifacts.

The Sago Mine Disaster, January 2, 2006, killed 12 and left one survivor. Officials said that a lightning strike in the coal caused the explosion. It was the worst mining disaster in the US since a 2001 disaster in Alabama killed 13 people, and the worst disaster in West Virginia since a 1968 incident that killed 78 people. National and international news crews were in the area for upwards of three days to cover rescue and recovery efforts.

Buckhannon takes its name from the nearby Buckhannon River. Historians believe community and river were both named for John Buchannon, a missionary to the area in the 1780s.


The city lies in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.83 square miles (7.33 km2), all land.


The climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year-round. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Buckhannon has a marine west coast climate, abbreviated "Cfb" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 427
1870 475 11.2%
1880 761 60.2%
1890 1,403 84.4%
1900 1,589 13.3%
1910 2,225 40.0%
1920 3,785 70.1%
1930 4,374 15.6%
1940 4,450 1.7%
1950 6,016 35.2%
1960 6,386 6.2%
1970 7,261 13.7%
1980 6,820 −6.1%
1990 5,909 −13.4%
2000 5,725 −3.1%
2010 5,639 −1.5%
2019 (est.) 5,394 −4.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 5,639 people, 2,148 households, and 1,149 families living in the city. The population density was 1,992.6 inhabitants per square mile (769.3/km2). There were 2,398 housing units at an average density of 847.3 per square mile (327.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.5% White, 2.1% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.5% of the population.

There were 2,148 households, of which 22.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.5% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 46.5% were non-families. 39.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.84.

The median age in the city was 33.1 years. 16.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 25.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 18.9% were from 25 to 44; 22.5% were from 45 to 64; and 17.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.

In other media

  • John Camillus McWhorter wrote the historical novel,The Scout of the Buckongehanon (1927), featuring Buckongahelas.
  • "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon" (song cycle by Chicago from their 1970 album Chicago II; writer James Pankow misspelled the town name)


The institutions of public primary and secondary learning serving the community of Buckhannon are operated by Upshur County Schools.

  • Upshur County Board of Education - its website has news and events with current links to all public, county schools (K-12).[1]
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College is a private institution of higher education situated within the City of Buckhannon.

Notable people

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Buckhannon para niños

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