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Clay, West Virginia facts for kids

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Clay, West Virginia
Main Street (WV Route 16) in Clay; Photo 2007
Main Street (WV Route 16) in Clay; Photo 2007
Haven In The Hills
Location of Clay in Clay County, West Virginia.
Location of Clay in Clay County, West Virginia.
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Clay
 • Total 0.62 sq mi (1.59 km2)
 • Land 0.56 sq mi (1.44 km2)
 • Water 0.06 sq mi (0.15 km2)
709 ft (216 m)
 • Total 491
 • Estimate 
 • Density 790.32/sq mi (305.26/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 304
FIPS code 54-15676
GNIS feature ID 1537360
Clay County Courthouse West Virginia
The Old Clay County Courthouse in 2007

Clay is a town in and the county seat of Clay County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 491 at the 2010 census. It is the only incorporated town in Clay County.


Clay was established on the site of a farm that was the site of Clay County's first court meeting following the county's establishment in 1858. The community was initially known by the name of "Marshall," then briefly as "Henry," and then as "Clay Courthouse" and finally Clay. The town and county are both named for U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Henry Clay (1777–1852). The town was incorporated in 1895. Before 1880, Clay was inaccessible to traffic from horse-drawn vehicles, and the Elk River was its primary mode of transport. Expansion of the Coal and Coke Railway reached Clay in 1905.

In June 2016, the town was impacted by severe flooding from the Elk River.

Elk River WV map
The Elk River watershed with Clay shown on the map

In November 2016, Clay mayor Beverly Whaling approvingly responded to a racist social media post that referred to U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama as an "ape in heels". Following international media coverage of the incident, Whaling resigned.


The city of Charleston, West Virginia, the state capitol, is about 40 miles away from Clay to the Southwest. Clay is centrally located within Clay County at 38°27′46″N 81°4′48″W / 38.46278°N 81.08000°W / 38.46278; -81.08000 (38.462855, -81.080024), along the Elk River and West Virginia Route 16 at an elevation of 708 feet (216 m). West Virginia Route 4 overlaps with Route 16 in the North of Clay. There is not much bottom land in Clay, as the river cuts a deep gorge through the city, limiting growth.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.62 square miles (1.61 km2), of which 0.56 square miles (1.45 km2) is land and 0.06 square miles (0.16 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 339
1910 392 15.6%
1920 342 −12.8%
1930 444 29.8%
1940 511 15.1%
1950 500 −2.2%
1960 486 −2.8%
1970 479 −1.4%
1980 940 96.2%
1990 592 −37.0%
2000 593 0.2%
2010 491 −17.2%
2019 (est.) 441 −10.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 491 people, 218 households, and 134 families living in the town. The population density was 876.8 inhabitants per square mile (338.5/km2). There were 275 housing units at an average density of 491.1 per square mile (189.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.8% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.4% of the population.

There were 218 households, of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.9% were married couples living together, 17.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.5% were non-families. 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.80.

The median age in the town was 38.8 years. 21.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.8% were from 25 to 44; 25.8% were from 45 to 64; and 16.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 52.7% male and 47.3% female.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Clay has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


Some newer businesses in the Clay area are located along what is called "Two Run" by locals. In May 2015, the Piggly Wiggly on 2200 Main Street closed; it was the only true grocery store at the time in Clay County (population ~9000).

Notable person

  • Dave Vineyard, baseball player who pitched in part of the 1964 season for the Baltimore Orioles

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Clay (Virginia Occidental) para niños

Black History Month on Kiddle
Famous African-American Pilots:
James B. Knighten
Azellia White
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