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Mineral County, West Virginia facts for kids

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Mineral County
Mineral County Courthouse in Keyser
Map of West Virginia highlighting Mineral County
Location within the U.S. state of West Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting West Virginia
West Virginia's location within the U.S.
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Country  United States
State  West Virginia
Founded February 1, 1866
Seat Keyser
Largest city Keyser
 • Total 329 sq mi (850 km2)
 • Land 328 sq mi (850 km2)
 • Water 1.4 sq mi (4 km2)  0.4%%
 • Total 28,212
 • Estimate 
 • Density 85.75/sq mi (33.11/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 1st

Mineral County is a county in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is part of the Cumberland, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 28,212. Its county seat is Keyser. The county was founded in 1866.


Ancient history

Indigenous peoples lived throughout the highlands along rivers in this area for thousands of years. Archeologists have identified artifacts of the Adena culture, dating from 1000 BC to 200 BC. They were among the several early Native American cultures who built major earthwork mounds for ceremonial and burial use. Remnants of their culture have been found throughout West Virginia. They were followed by other indigenous peoples.

With the growth of fur trading to the north after European encounter in the coastal areas, the nations of the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois Confederacy), based in present-day New York, moved into the Ohio Valley in search of new hunting grounds. By the 17th century they had conquered other tribes, pushed them out to the west, and preserved the area for hunting.

1863 to present

It was not until after West Virginia became a state in 1863 that present-day Mineral County was organized. It was created in 1866 by an Act of the West Virginia Legislature from the existing Hampshire County. The name was selected due to its reserves of minerals, especially coal (although, technically, coal is not a true mineral).

The seminal point in the creation of the county was the arrival of the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1842. The county seat of Keyser was named for an executive of the railroad.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 329 square miles (850 km2), of which 328 square miles (850 km2) is land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) (0.4%) is water.


The northern terminus of the Allegheny Front in West Virginia lies in Mineral County, and contains the highest point in the county. Known as the Pinnacle it is 3,104 feet (946 m) above sea level. From the abandoned fire tower you can see four states on a clear day, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. The Allegheny Front is the largest mountain in the county; on the north end it is also known as Green Mountain. On top of the Allegheny Plateau is located the town of Elk Garden, West Virginia in the southwestern portion of the county. The Potomac River Valley lies to west and north of the mountain, and the New Creek Valley lies to the east.

Knobly Mountain lies between the New Creek and Patterson Creek valleys. It is the longest mountain in Mineral County stretching from the Grant County line in the south to the Potomac River in the north at Ridgeley, West Virginia.

To the east of the Patterson Creek Valley lie a series of low hills which form the eastern border of the county with Hampshire County.



Natural gas is found east of the Allegheny Front as well as iron ore deposits. The county no longer produces iron, but several abandoned iron furnaces from the 19th century still exist.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 6,332
1880 8,630 36.3%
1890 12,085 40.0%
1900 12,883 6.6%
1910 16,674 29.4%
1920 19,849 19.0%
1930 20,084 1.2%
1940 22,215 10.6%
1950 22,333 0.5%
1960 22,354 0.1%
1970 23,109 3.4%
1980 27,234 17.9%
1990 26,697 −2.0%
2000 27,078 1.4%
2010 28,212 4.2%
2019 (est.) 26,868 −4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2019

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 28,212 people, 11,550 households, and 7,879 families residing in the county. The population density was 86.1 inhabitants per square mile (33.2/km2). There were 13,039 housing units at an average density of 39.8 per square mile (15.4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.3% white, 2.8% black or African American, 0.4% Asian, 0.1% American Indian, 0.1% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 0.7% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 32.9% were German, 16.0% were Irish, 11.3% were English, and 10.0% were American.

Of the 11,550 households, 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.5% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 31.8% were non-families, and 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.87. The median age was 42.3 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,571 and the median income for a family was $46,820. Males had a median income of $44,068 versus $25,675 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,805. About 11.7% of families and 16.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.2% of those under age 18 and 12.7% of those age 65 or over.



The Greater Cumberland Regional Airport is located in Wiley Ford.


CSX lines run along the Potomac River on the northern border of the county. Amtrak service is available in Cumberland, Maryland, just across from Ridgeley, West Virginia. Keyser's railroad station closed in the 1980s.

Major highways

Parks and public recreational attractions

Larenim Park

Owned by Mineral County, the park size is 365 acres (1.48 km2). Includes two pavilions with 10 tables, an amphitheater with seating capacity of 600. One Little League field and one softball field. Fishing Areas; two flood control dams stocked by WVDNR, 5 acres (20,000 m2) and 2.5 acres (10,000 m2). All 365 acres (1.48 km2) are open to public hunting by permit. Approximately 5 miles of trails. An arboretum is under construction at Larenim to include a Shale Barrens Conservancy. Larenim Park is also home to the local theater group, McNeill's Rangers.

Barnum Whitewater Area

Owned by Mineral County with size of approximately 40 acres (160,000 m2). Includes four miles (6 km) of rail/trail. This area has approximately 1-mile (1.6 km) of river frontage on the North Branch of the Potomac River below Jennings Randolph Lake, along the old Western Maryland Railway right-of-way. It is one of the best trout streams in West Virginia and also provides seven miles (11 km) of whitewater rafting and canoeing for the entire family to enjoy. Public hunting permitted on surrounding state lands.


Owned by the Mineral County Board of Education, MINCO Park's size is 13.5 acres (55,000 m2). Its facilities include two pavilions with 50 picnic tables, nine cabins, a dining field, a chapel, meeting room, and bath/shower facilities.

Van Myra Campground

Owned by the State of West Virginia and leased by Mineral County, the campground area is 10 acres (40,000 m2). Three picnic tables, four mini-pavilions, and picnic area only comprise this facility.

Dam Site #21

Owned by Mineral County, 178 acres (0.72 km2), with no facilities. Fishing 10 acres (40,000 m2) flood control dam.

Jennings Randolph Lake

Jennings Randolph Lake, named for Senator Jennings Randolph, near Elk Garden offers extensive recreational opportunity with its 952 acres (3.85 km2) and more than 13 miles (21 km) of shoreline. Howell Run Picnic Area overlooks the lake and contains 40 picnic sites, two pavilions, a playground and vault toilets. The Howell Run Boat Launch consists of a two lane concrete ramp. the Robert W. Craig Campground is situated on a high ridge overlooking the dam site and features 87 campsites, potable water, hot showers, vault toilets and a playground. A 3/4 mile long interpretive trail has been developed in the area. The West Virginia Overlook area contains a two tier Visitor Center. Waffle Rock, a unique natural rock formation, can also be viewed from the Overlook.

Golf courses

  • Polish Pines – Privately owned, nine holes, Club House
  • Mill Creek – Privately owned, nine holes, Club House




Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


  • Elk District
  • New Creek District
  • Welton District
  • Frankfort District
  • Cabin Run District
  • Piedmont Independent District

Historical sites

Saddle Mountain as viewed from Highland Acres Farm
  • New Creek Blockhouse
  • Northwestern Turnpike
  • Patterson Creek Manor
  • Saddle Mountain
  • Traveler's Rest
  • Weaver's Antique Service Station
  • Wind Lea


Industrial parks

The Mineral County Development Authority operates industrial parks near Keyser, featuring rail access, and near Fort Ashby, with fiber optics and sitewide wireless Internet Keyser Industrial Park Fort Ashby Business and Technology Park


High schools

Mineral County Schools includes two high schools: Frankfort High School located near Short Gap and Keyser High School located south of Keyser.


Potomac State College, a two-year school, is located in the county seat of Keyser, West Virginia on the site of Civil War Fort Fuller.

Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College holds classes at Mineral Counties Vocational and Technical School.

Notable people

  • Colonel James Allen
  • John Ashby
  • Woodrow Wilson Barr
  • Thomas Carskadon
  • Henry G. Davis
  • Thomas Beall Davis
  • Lynndie England
  • Henry Louis Gates
  • Nancy Hanks Lincoln, mother of Abraham Lincoln
  • Jonah Edward Kelley
  • John Kruk
  • Leo Mazzone
  • Catherine Marshall
  • Walter E. "Jack" Rollins
  • Harley Orrin Staggers, Sr.
  • Harley "Buckey" Staggers, Jr.
  • Ken Ward Jr.
  • Steve Whiteman
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