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Fairmont, West Virginia facts for kids

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Fairmont, West Virginia
Downtown Fairmont and the Monongahela River in 2006
Downtown Fairmont and the Monongahela River in 2006
"Friendly City"
"Spend a Day... Spend a Lifetime"
Location of Fairmont in Marion County, West Virginia.
Location of Fairmont in Marion County, West Virginia.
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Marion
 • Type Council-manager government
 • Total 8.99 sq mi (23.27 km2)
 • Land 8.60 sq mi (22.28 km2)
 • Water 0.38 sq mi (0.99 km2)
984 ft (300 m)
 • Total 18,704
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,137.64/sq mi (825.36/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 304
FIPS code 54-26452
GNIS feature ID 1560581
5 pm. Boys going home from Monougal Glass Works. A native remark, "De place is lousey wid kids." Fairmont, W. Va. - NARA - 523094
Child laborers at Monougal Glass Works in Fairmont, 1908. Photo by Lewis Hine.
Marion County Courthouse Fairmont
Marion County Courthouse in Fairmont

Fairmont is a city in Marion County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 18,704 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Marion County.


Prior to the founding of Fairmont, the land that would become Marion County was part of Monongalia and Harrison County. Oral history indicates that in 1808, Boaz Fleming made his annual trek to Clarksburg to pay his brother's Harrison County taxes. While in Clarksburg, Fleming attended a social gathering that included his cousin, Dolly Madison, wife of President James Madison. Fleming complained to Mrs. Madison about having to travel over a hundred miles each year from his home to pay his Monongalia County taxes and his brother's Harrison County taxes. Mrs. Madison supposedly suggested that he create his own county to save him all that travel. In 1814, Fleming circulated a petition to do precisely that, naming the proposed county Madison County, in honor of Dolly and James Madison.

Milford (also known as Pleasantville) was the only town within the borders of Fleming's proposed county, so Fleming decided to make this town the seat of Madison County. However, Milford's citizens preferred to remain part of Monongalia County. As a result, Fleming's petition failed to gain sufficient support to be presented to the Virginia General Assembly. Fleming then focused on creating a town near his farm, which was located on the west side of the Monongahela River. In 1817, Fleming's sons—William and David—began to clear land on part of their father's farm to make way for the new town; this part of the farm would later become downtown Fairmont. In 1819, a road was built from Clarksburg to Morgantown. Fleming's new town was about halfway between the two cities, making it a good resting point. The town was incorporated as Middletown on January 19, 1820. It is unknown if the town was called Middletown because of its location midway between Clarksburg and Morgantown or because Fleming's first wife, Elizabeth Hutchinson, was originally from Middletown, Delaware.

The current borders of Marion County were established in 1842, and Middletown was named the county's seat. At that time, William Haymond, Jr. suggested that the town's name be changed to Fairmont because the town had a beautiful overlook of the Monongahela River, giving it a "fair mount." The Borough of Fairmont was incorporated in 1843 by the Virginia General Assembly.

Many of the first buildings in Fairmont were poorly constructed. By 1852—little more than 30 years after the city's founding—a large portion of Fairmont was reported to be run-down and dilapidated. Reports from 1873 indicate that these buildings had continued to fall into disrepair. On April 2, 1876, a fire destroyed a large portion of the city's business district, as well as many houses in the area. The continuing dilapidation of the city's buildings may have contributed to the fire; the large number of coal mines under Fairmont may have also played a role.

Between 1891 and 1901—in a span of only 10 years—Fairmont's population had increased from 1,000 to 7,000. The City of Fairmont was chartered in 1899; as a result of the charter, the city absorbed the surrounding towns of Palastine (also known as East Side) and West Fairmont. By 1901, Fairmont was an important commercial center. Many railroads—including the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on its way from Cumberland, MD to Wheeling, WV—traveled through the city. By this time, Fairmont was also the leading center of the coal trade industry in northern West Virginia, employing some 10,000 workers in the coal mines around Fairmont. The city also gained many improvements, including telephone, water, and electric service.


The Tygart Valley River and the West Fork River join in Fairmont to form the Monongahela River. Buffalo Creek, a tributary of the Monongahela River, flows through the northern part of the city.

According to the US Army Corp of engineers, Fairmont, West Virginia, is the port city farthest from the ocean (2,085 miles) via an inland waterway.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.00 square miles (23.31 km2), of which, 8.62 square miles (22.33 km2) is land and 0.38 square miles (0.98 km2) is water.


Climate data for Fairmont, West Virginia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 38
Average low °F (°C) 20
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.45



Fairmont is located in the North-Central region of the state, along West Virginia's I-79 High Tech Corridor. Major highways include:

  • I-79.svg Interstate 79
  • US 19.svg U.S. Highway 19
  • US 250.svg U.S. Highway 250
  • WV-310.svg West Virginia Route 310
  • WV-273.svg West Virginia Route 273


Fairmont Municipal Airport (Frankman Field) is a public use airport located two nautical miles (4 km) southwest of the central business district of Fairmont. It is owned by the Fairmont-Marion County Regional Airport Authority.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 683
1860 704 3.1%
1870 621 −11.8%
1880 900 44.9%
1890 1,023 13.7%
1900 5,655 452.8%
1910 9,711 71.7%
1920 17,851 83.8%
1930 23,159 29.7%
1940 23,105 −0.2%
1950 29,346 27.0%
1960 27,477 −6.4%
1970 26,093 −5.0%
1980 23,863 −8.5%
1990 20,210 −15.3%
2000 19,097 −5.5%
2010 18,704 −2.1%
2020 18,416 −1.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

At the 2010 census, there were 18,704 people, 8,133 households and 4,424 families living in the city. The population density was 2,169.8 inhabitants per square mile (837.8/km2). There were 9,200 housing units at an average density of 1,067.3 per square mile (412.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.9% White, 7.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.

There were 8,133 households, of which 24.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.7% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.6% were non-families. 36.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.83.

The median age was 36.8 years. 18% of residents were under the age of 18; 16.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25% were from 25 to 44; 24.4% were from 45 to 64; and 16.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2% male and 51.8% female.


Fairmont Senior High School

Fairmont Senior High School (FSHS) is an historic secondary school, listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 22, 2002. Architect William B. Ittner, who is responsible for over three dozen entries in the National Register, designed the school in the late 1920s. The school's architectural classification is Colonial Revival, with a stone foundation, brick walls, and asphalt shingle roofing.

Fairmont State University

Fairmont State University is a public university with an approximate enrollment of 7,700 students. The institution offers master's degrees in business, education, teaching, criminal justice, and nursing, in addition to 90 baccalaureate and 50 associate degrees. Originally named Fairmont Normal School, the college was located on the corner of Fairmont Avenue and Second Street and moved to its present location in 1917.

Pricketts Fort State Park

Pricketts Fort is a 22-acre (8.9 ha) West Virginia state park and site of an historic fort built to defend early European settlers from raids by hostile Native Americans. The feuds were generally over territory the settlers appropriated following the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768).


  • Valley Falls State Park is also located nearby to the east.
  • The Johnnie Johnson (musician) Blues & Jazz Festival is held annually in Fairmont, WV.
  • Fairmont's National White Collar Crime Center provides nationwide support to law enforcement agencies involved in prevention, investigation, and prosecution of economic and high-tech crime.
  • NASA Independent Verification and Validation Facility, governed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, houses more than 150 full-time employees and more than 20 in-house partners and contractors.
  • The Jacobs-Hutchinson Block building, also known as Peoples' National Bank and Friendly Furniture Store
  • The Aerial Port Gymnastic Center is where the 1984 Olympic Medalist Mary Lou Retton was trained, now relocated to the former site of ABC Printing.


FSHS front
Fairmont Senior High School in 2018

Fairmont Senior High School

Fairmont Senior High School is a public high school that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The school was established in the late 1800s, and the school was relocated in 1905 and 1928. The current iteration of the school, which is located on Loop Park Dr, was designed by the architect William B. Ittner.

Fairmont State University

Fairmont State University is a public university with an approximate enrollment of 3,800 students. The institution offers master's degrees in business, education, teaching, criminal justice, and nursing, in addition to 90 baccalaureate and 50 associate degrees. Originally established as a school for teachers, the college was named Fairmont Normal School, and was located on the corner of Fairmont Avenue and Second Street and moved to its present location in 1917.

Dunbar School

Dunbar School south side (Fairmont, West Virginia)
Dunbar School in 2015

Dunbar School is a historic building in Fairmont, West Virginia, that used to be an all-black high school. The school was designed by the architect William B Ittner. The school was built in 1928.

Notable people

Mary Lou Retton, the first female gymnast from outside Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around title

Images for kids

See also

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

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