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Salem, West Virginia
Main Street in Salem in 2006
Main Street in Salem in 2006
Location of Salem in Harrison County, West Virginia.
Location of Salem in Harrison County, West Virginia.
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Harrison
 • Total 1.34 sq mi (3.47 km2)
 • Land 1.34 sq mi (3.47 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,050 ft (320 m)
 • Total 1,586
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,137.52/sq mi (439.20/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 304
FIPS code 54-71380
GNIS feature ID 1546280

Salem is a city in Harrison County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 1,586 at the 2010 census. It is located at the junction of U.S. Route 50 and West Virginia Route 23; the North Bend Rail Trail passes through the city. Salem University is located in Salem.


Salem is located at 39°17′0″N 80°33′46″W / 39.28333°N 80.56278°W / 39.28333; -80.56278 (39.283411, -80.562731), along Salem Fork, a tributary of Tenmile Creek., in western Harrison County

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.34 square miles (3.47 km2), all of it land.


Salem Fire 2006.

Salem was settled in the summer of 1790 — as "New Salem" — by forty Seventh Day Baptist families from Shrewsbury, New Jersey. Notable settler family names included Lippincott, Maxson, Babcock, Plumer, Davis, and Randolph. New Salem was formally chartered and made a town by legislative enactment of the Virginia Assembly on December 19, 1794, on land owned by Samuel Fitz Randolph. John Patterson, John Davis, Samuel Lippincott, James Davis, Zebulon Maxon, Benjamin Thorp, Thomas Clayton, William Davis, Jacob Davis, George Jackson and John Haymond were appointed its first trustees.

By the 1870s, the town was more frequently being called "Salem" than "New Salem", as the separation of West Virginia from Virginia in 1863 had diminished the need to distinguish it from the town named Salem near Roanoke. The US Postal Service made the change official in 1884.

Salem was incorporated by the state of West Virginia on 25 February 1905.

Salem has a history of large fires. The same full city block has burned down twice in the city's history. The north side of Main Street downtown burned once in 1901 and again on March 2, 2006. The more recent fire burned the old city bank building, several store fronts, and several residences; five structures in all were damaged. The fire was determined to have been started by a hot water tank in an apartment. The fire departments' ability to put out the blaze was hampered by a limited city water supply; they were forced to draw water from the nearby creek.

The Salem College Administration Building and Salem Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 248
1890 310 25.0%
1900 746 140.6%
1910 2,169 190.8%
1920 2,920 34.6%
1930 2,943 0.8%
1940 2,571 −12.6%
1950 2,578 0.3%
1960 2,366 −8.2%
1970 2,597 9.8%
1980 2,706 4.2%
1990 2,063 −23.8%
2000 2,006 −2.8%
2010 1,586 −20.9%
2019 (est.) 1,522 −4.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,586 people, 662 households, and 384 families living in the city. The population density was 1,183.6 inhabitants per square mile (457.0/km2). There were 834 housing units at an average density of 622.4 per square mile (240.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.5% White, 4.1% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.1% of the population.

There were 662 households, of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.4% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.0% were non-families. 35.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.88.

The median age in the city was 36.1 years. 20.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 15.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.1% were from 25 to 44; 26.3% were from 45 to 64; and 14.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.1% male and 50.9% female.


The Salem College Administration Building in 2007

Salem University is a private university in the city, founded in 1888 by Seventh Day Baptists. The Salem College Administration Building was completed in 1910 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Notable people

  • Jennings Randolph: US Senator for West Virginia (1958–1985)
  • Melvin Mayfield: US Army soldier and a recipient of the US military's highest decoration — the Medal of Honor — for his actions in World War II

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See also

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

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