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Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia
Eastern panhandle
Eastern panhandle
 • Land 3,483.66 sq mi (9,022.6 km2)
 • Total 276,557
 • Density 79.4/sq mi (30.7/km2)

The Eastern Panhandle is the eastern of the two panhandles in the U.S. state of West Virginia; the other is the Northern Panhandle. It is a small stretch of territory in the northeast of the state, bordering Maryland and Virginia. Some sources and regional associations only identify the Eastern Panhandle as being composed of Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson counties. Berkeley and Jefferson counties are geographically located in the Shenandoah Valley. West Virginia is the only U.S. state with two panhandles.


Berkeley, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, and Morgan counties were part of the Unionist state of West Virginia created in 1863. Shortly after West Virginia gained statehood, Mineral and Grant counties were created from Hampshire and Hardy in 1866.

The Eastern Panhandle includes West Virginia's oldest chartered towns (1762) of Romney and Shepherdstown. The Panhandle also includes West Virginia's two oldest counties: Hampshire (1753) and Berkeley (1772).

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad runs through the panhandle, and was a key transportation link to Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. Harper's Ferry was the site of a U.S. Armory until 1861. The strategic nature of the area influenced its inclusion in West Virginia by the Union Congress.

There has been talk about certain counties in the Eastern Panhandle rejoining Virginia, due primarily to poor economic conditions and perceived neglect from the state government. In 2011, West Virginia state delegate Larry Kump sponsored legislation to allow Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson counties to rejoin Virginia by popular vote.


The Eastern Panhandle includes both West Virginia's highest and lowest elevations above sea level: Spruce Knob, 4,863 feet (1,482 m), in Pendleton and Harpers Ferry, 240 feet (73 m), in Jefferson on the Potomac River. The region is separated from the remainder of the state by the Allegheny Front, which separates the Mississippi watershed from that of Chesapeake Bay.

The counties in the eastern panhandle are:


According to the 2010 Census, the eight counties of the Eastern Panhandle had a combined population of 261,041, giving the region 11.75% of West Virginia's population. Berkeley County is the Panhandle's most populous county, with an census 104,169 residents (2010). Berkeley also includes the Panhandle's largest city, Martinsburg, with a 2010 census population of 17,227.

Housing growth

The Eastern Panhandle is West Virginia's fastest-growing region in terms of population and housing. In July 2005, the United States Census Bureau released a list of the top 100 counties according to housing growth. Berkeley County grew 3.95 percent, from 36,365 housing units in 2003 to 37,802 units in 2004. That growth rate was 86th in the nation among the 3,143 United States counties. Jefferson County was not far behind at 88th in the nation. It grew 3.94 percent from 19,381 housing units in 2003 to 20,144 units in 2004.

Building of planned communities surged in the Eastern Panhandle during 2000-2008 with thousands of individual homes, condominiums and townhouses available on the open market. Homeowner associations were deemed responsible for financially supporting their infrastructure, common areas; a servitude borne by the HOA's individual homeowners. Due to the number of questions by homeowners, the Eastern Panhandle Organization of Homeowners Associations, Inc., a non-profit corporation, first registered as the Jefferson County Organization of Homeowners Associations, Inc.; grew from the necessity of answers from and by homeowners. The sole mission of EPOHOA focuses on issues relating to the preservation and promotion of the present and future welfare of homeowners. Synonyms for homeowners associations include, but are not limited to: Homeowners Association (HOA), Planned Community, Subdivision, Common Interest Community (CIC), Common Interest Development (CID), Property Owners Association (POC), Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Largest municipalities

The majority of the Eastern Panhandle's growing residential developments are located outside city and town boundaries and are not included in the city or town's official population.

City 2010 2000 1990 1980 1970 County
Martinsburg 17,227 14,972 14,073 13,063 14,626 Berkeley
Keyser 5,439 5,303 5,870 6,586 Mineral
Ranson 3,957 2,951 2,890 2,189 Jefferson
Charles Town 5,259 2,907 3,122 3,023 Jefferson
Petersburg 2,467 2,423 2,360 2,177 Grant
Moorefield 2,544 2,375 2,148 2,124 Hardy
Romney 1,848 1,940 1,966 2,364 Hampshire
Shepherdstown 1,734 803 1,287 1,688 Jefferson
Bolivar 1,045 1,045 1,013 943 Jefferson
Piedmont 876 1,014 1,094 1,763 Mineral

NOTE: This list does not include the unincorporated census-designated places of Inwood (pop. 2,954) and Fort Ashby (pop. 1,380). The U.S. Census Bureau does not release estimates for CDPs. The population figures listed are from the 2010 census.

Statistical areas

Several counties in the Eastern Panhandle are part of metropolitan, micropolitan, and consolidated metropolitan statistical areas defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget.

MSA/CMSA Population (2000) WV Counties
Cumberland, MD-WV MSA 102,008 Mineral
Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV MSA 222,771 Berkeley, Morgan
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA 4,796,183 Jefferson
Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV CMSA 7,538,385 Berkeley, Jefferson
Winchester, VA-WV MSA 102,997 Hampshire

County information

County Named For Founded Seat
Berkeley Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt February 1772 Martinsburg
Grant Ulysses Simpson Grant February 14, 1866 Petersburg
Hampshire County of Hampshire, England December 13, 1753 Romney
Hardy Samuel Hardy December 10, 1785 Moorefield
Jefferson Thomas Jefferson January 8, 1801 Charles Town
Mineral minerals located in the county February 1, 1866 Keyser
Morgan General Daniel Morgan February 9, 1820 Berkeley Springs
Pendleton Edmund Pendleton December 4, 1787 Franklin

Places of worship

  • Hampshire County is home to two religious learning centers: the Buddhist Bhavana Society Forest Monastery and Retreat Center in High View and the Global Country of World Peace's Transcendental Meditation Learning Center and Retreat in Three Churches.

Potomac Highlands

Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Pendleton counties belong to the geographical region of West Virginia known as the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.

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