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Keyser, West Virginia

The Irish Settlement (c.1752)

Paddy Town (c.1752-1855) Wind Lea (1855-c.1860)

New Creek (c.1860-1874)
Downtown Keyser in January 2014
Downtown Keyser in January 2014
Location of Keyser in Mineral County, West Virginia.
Location of Keyser in Mineral County, West Virginia.
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Mineral
Incorporated/Chartered 1874/1913
 • Total 1.98 sq mi (5.12 km2)
 • Land 1.98 sq mi (5.12 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
807 ft (246 m)
 • Total 5,439
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,488.61/sq mi (960.77/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 304
FIPS code 54-43492
GNIS feature ID 1541180

Keyser is a city in and the county seat of Mineral County, West Virginia, United States. It is part of the Cumberland, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 5,439 at the 2010 census.


The community was named after William Keyser, a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad official.

The Thomas R. Carskadon House and Mineral County Courthouse are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.92 square miles (4.97 km2), all land.


The type locality of the Silurian/Devonian Keyser Formation, a limestone, is located in a quarry and roadcut east of the town.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,693
1890 2,165 27.9%
1900 2,563 18.4%
1910 3,705 44.6%
1920 6,003 62.0%
1930 6,248 4.1%
1940 6,177 −1.1%
1950 6,347 2.8%
1960 6,192 −2.4%
1970 6,586 6.4%
1980 6,569 −0.3%
1990 5,870 −10.6%
2000 5,303 −9.7%
2010 5,439 2.6%
2019 (est.) 4,915 −9.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
Fire Department in Keyser, West Virginia (1920)
Fire Department, 1920
Keyser, WV
Welcome sign, "Friendliest City in the U.S.A." Taken in 2014.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 5,439 people, 2,224 households, and 1,253 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,832.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,093.8/km2). There were 2,525 housing units at an average density of 1,315.1 per square mile (507.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.4 percent White, 8.6 percent African American, 0.2 percent Native American, 0.4 percent Asian, 0.1 percent from other races, and 2.3 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people made up 1.4 percent of the population.

Of the 2,224 households, 26.8 percent had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.6 percent were married couples living together, 14.8 percent had a female householder with no husband present, 5.9 percent had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.7 percent were non-families. Of all households, 37.5 percent were made up of individuals, and 18.5 percent 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 2.88.

The median age in the city was 36.1 years. 19.4 percent of residents were under the age of 18; 19 percent were between the ages of 18 and 24; 19.8 percent were from 25 to 44; 24.7 percent were from 45 to 64; and 17.1 percent were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2 percent male and 51.8 percent female.

In popular culture

Keyser is mentioned in the BBC television mini series The State Within (Season 1, Episode 1). British Ambassador Mark Brydon just landed from a round trip to the U.K. where he was told he will be nominated to a new position in the British Government. En route to the embassy, a plane that just departed explodes above the highway, killing all the passengers and a few people on the highway. Rapidly, the Secret Services pinpoint that it is a terrorist bombing and that the terrorist was of British nationality. British SAS are shown on a raid, the screen clearly labels the location "Keyser, West Virginia." One of their members is killed in a shoot out and dumped in a nearby stream located in the fictitious "Fairmont County, West Virginia."

  • Geographic data related to Keyser, West Virginia at OpenStreetMap


As of 2016, approximately 11 percent of Keyser's workers were employed in manufacturing jobs in or around Keyser. Another 20 percent worked in health care or personal care and service. A little less than 20 percent worked in sales and food service. About 17 percent worked in a combination of education, training, administrative, and social service. The remainder of the workforce was spread across trucking, management, maintenance and repair, and other industries. The poverty rate in Keyser was 27.4 percent. Its median household income was $28,378.

Among the largest companies employing Keyser residents are:

  • Orbital ATK, which operates Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in nearby Rocket Center, West Virginia, producing rocket motors, warheads, and fuses for the military, with more than 500 employees.
  • Potomac Valley Hospital, with more than 200 employees.
  • Wal-Mart Stores, with more than 200 employees.
  • Potomac State College of West Virginia University, with more than 100 employees.
  • Mineral County Board of Education, with more than 100 employees.
  • Heartland Employment Services, which operates a nursing home, with more than 100 employees.
  • Automated Packaging Systems, which manufactures bag packaging systems, with more than 100 employees.
  • West Virginia Department of Highways, with more than 100 employees.
  • Information Manufacturing Inc., with more than 100 employees.
  • Lumber and Things, which manufactures wooden pallets and skids, with more than 100 employees.


Keyser, WV - old High School
The old Keyser High School in January 2014

Keyser is the home of the Potomac State College of West Virginia University, a junior college that serves primarily as a feeder college to WVU's main campus in Morgantown.

Keyser's public schools are part of the Mineral County school system. The schools in Keyser include Keyser Primary School and Fountain Primary School, which cover Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade; Keyser Middle School, which covers sixth through eighth grade; Keyser High School, which covers ninth through 12th grades; Mineral County Alternative School; and the Mineral County Tech Center, a vocational school. The mascot of Keyser High is the "Golden Tornado."


2016-06-18 07 40 17 View south along U.S. Route 220 (Mineral Street) at Maryland Street in Keyser, Mineral County, West Virginia
US 220 southbound in Keyser

Keyser is served by two primary highways. The most prominent of these is U.S. Route 220. From Keyser, US 220 heads north, crosses the North Branch Potomac River into Allegany County, Maryland, and continues to Cumberland and points north. Heading south, US 220 heads through Moorefield and Petersburg before crossing into Virginia. The other primary highway serving Keyser is West Virginia Route 46. From Keyser, WV 46 heads west to Piedmont and Elk Garden while to the east, WV 46 extends to Fort Ashby.

Notable people

  • William Armstrong (1782–1865) – United States representative from Virginia. Died in Keyser.
  • Woodrow Wilson Barr (1918–1942) – World War II soldier awarded the Silver Star posthumously; born in Keyser
  • Henry Louis Gates Jr. (b. 1950) – Historian, author, academic; born in Keyser
  • Jonah Edward Kelley (1923–1945) – World War II soldier awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously; raised in Keyser
  • John Kruk (b. 1961) – Major League Baseball player, ESPN baseball analyst; raised in Keyser
  • Pete Ladygo (1928–2014) – American/Canadian football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ottawa Rough Riders
  • Frank Lovece – Journalist, author, comics writer; lived there in childhood
  • Catherine Marshall (1914–1983) – American author known for her inspirational works, notably the novel Christy; raised in Keyser
  • Leo Mazzone (b. 1948) – Major League Baseball pitching coach; born in Keyser
  • Walter E. Rollins (1906–1973), (also known as Jack Rollins) – Songwriter who wrote "Frosty the Snowman" and "Smokey Bear"
  • Harley Orrin Staggers (1907–1991) – United States Congressman; born in Keyser

See also

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

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Hispanic astronauts
Joseph M. Acaba
Sidney M. Gutierrez
George D. Zamka
John D. Olivas
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