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City of Wheeling, West Virginia
—  City  —
Downtown Wheeling and the Ohio River as viewed from Wheeling Island in 2006

Nickname(s): The Friendly City, Your Place to Play
Location in Ohio County in the State of West Virginia
Coordinates: 40°4′13″N 80°41′55″W / 40.07028°N 80.69861°W / 40.07028; -80.69861Coordinates: 40°4′13″N 80°41′55″W / 40.07028°N 80.69861°W / 40.07028; -80.69861
Country United States
State West Virginia
Counties Ohio, Marshall
Settled 1769
Established 1806
Incorporated 1836
 - Mayor Haleigh Collins (2008–present)
 - City Manager Robert Herron (2002–present)
 - Police Chief Robert Matheny (2009-present)
 - Fire Chief Larry Helms (2007–present)
 - City 15.8 sq mi (41.0 km2)
 - Land 13.9 sq mi (36.0 km2)
 - Water 1.9 sq mi (4.9 km2)  12.07%
Elevation 687-1,300 ft (209-396 m)
Population (2008)
 - City 28,913
 Density 2,110.1/sq mi (814.7/km2)
 Metro 145,454
  metro pop'n. as of 2007[1]
Time zone Eastern (UTC-4)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 26003
Area code(s) 304
FIPS code 54-86452[2]
GNIS feature ID 1548994[3]

Wheeling is the city and the seat of Ohio County in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Most of the city lies in Ohio County, though annexations have also included portions of Marshall County.[4] Wheeling is considered part of the Pittsburgh Tri-State area and is the principal city of the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 31,419 (31,059 in Ohio County, 360 in Marshall County). The population was estimated at 28,913 in 2008 [5].

Wheeling was originally a settlement in the British Colony of Virginia and later an important city in the Commonwealth of Virginia until 1861 when the western counties of Virginia seceded from the state. Wheeling was the location of the Wheeling Convention, which established the state of West Virginia, and was the first capital of West Virginia. The capital moved so often in its early years that it was nicknamed the "floating capital". In 1870, the State Legislature designated Charleston as the capital city. In 1875, the Legislature reversed their decision and voted to return the Capital to Wheeling. This was appealed by the citizens of Charleston and finally settled by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in favor of Wheeling. In 1877 the Legislature ordered an election to be held for the citizens of West Virginia to select a permanent location for the capital, choosing between Charleston, Martinsburg and Clarksburg. By proclamation of the governor, the official move took place eight years later, and in 1885 the capital moved from Wheeling to Charleston, where it has remained.




The origins of the name "Wheeling" are disputed. One of the more credible explanations is that the word comes from the Lenni-Lenape phrase "wih link", which meant "place of the head." This supposedly referred to a white settler who was scalped and decapitated. His severed head was left on display at the confluence of Wheeling Creek and the Ohio River.[6] Originally explored by the French, Wheeling still has a lead plate remnant buried by Celeron de Bienville in 1749 at the mouth of Wheeling Creek. Later, Christopher Gist and even George Washington surveyed the land in 1751 and 1770, respectively.[7]


During the fall of 1769, Ebenezer Zane explored the Wheeling area and established claim to the land via "tomahawk rights" (a process of deadening a few trees near the head of a spring, and marking the bark with the initials of the name of the person who made the claim). He returned the following spring with his wife, Elizabeth, and his younger brothers, Jonathan and Silas, and established the first permanent settlement in the Wheeling area. The settlement was called Zanesburg. Other notable families joined the settlement, including the Shepherds (see Monument Place), the Wetzels, and the McCollochs (see McColloch's Leap). In 1793, Ebenzer Zane divided the town into lots, and Wheeling was officially established as a town in 1795 by legislative enactment. The town was incorporated January 16, 1805. On March 11, 1836, the town of Wheeling was incorporated into the city of Wheeling.

By an act of the Virginia General Assembly on December 27, 1797, Wheeling was named the county seat of Ohio County.[8]

Fort Henry

Originally dubbed Fort Fincastle in 1774, the fort was later renamed Fort Henry in honor of Virginia's American Governor Patrick Henry. In 1777, Native American of the Shawnee, Wyandot and Mingo tribes joined to attack settlements along the Ohio River. Local men later joined by recruits from Fort Shepherd (in Elm Grove) and Fort Holliday defended the fort. The native force subsequently burned the surrounding cabins and destroyed livestock.

"McColloch's Leap"

During the first attack of the year, Major Samuel McColloch led a small force of men from Fort Vanmetre along Short Creek to assist the besieged Fort Henry. McColloch was separated from his men and was chased by attacking Indians. Upon his horse, McColloch charged up Wheeling Hill and made what is known as McColloch's Leap 300 feet (91 m) down its eastern side.

In 1782, a native army along with some British soldiers attempted to take Fort Henry. During this siege, Fort Henry's supply of ammunition was exhausted. The defenders decided to dispatch one of its men to secure more ammunition from the Zane homestead. Betty Zane volunteered for the dangerous task. During her departing run, she was heckled by both native and British soldiers. Upon successfully reaching the Zane homestead, she gathered a table cloth and filled it with gunpowder. During her return, she was fired upon but was uninjured. It is believed that one bullet did, in fact, pierce her clothing. As a result of Zane's heroism, Fort Henry remained in American control.[8]


Downtown Wheeling

Wheeling is located at 40°4′13″N 80°41′55″W / 40.07028°N 80.69861°W / 40.07028; -80.69861 (40.070348, -80.698604)[9]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.8 square miles (41.0 km²), of which, 13.9 square miles (36.0 km²) of it is land and 1.9 square miles (4.9 km²) of it (12.07%) is water.

Wheeling is located in Northern West Virginia, on what is known as the northern panhandle. It is directly across the river from the state of Ohio and only 11 miles (18 km) west of Pennsylvania. It is a part of the Tri-State bordering area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which is commonly referred to as the Ohio River Valley Region or "The Ohio Valley".

Wheeling Creek flows through the city, and meets the Ohio River in downtown Wheeling.

The city is located both on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River and on an island in the middle of the river called Wheeling Island.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1840 7,885
1850 11,435 45.0%
1860 14,083 23.2%
1870 19,280 36.9%
1880 30,737 59.4%
1890 34,522 12.3%
1900 38,878 12.6%
1910 41,641 7.1%
1920 56,208 35.0%
1930 61,659 9.7%
1940 61,099 −0.9%
1950 58,891 −3.6%
1960 53,400 −9.3%
1970 48,188 −9.8%
1980 43,070 −10.6%
1990 34,882 −19.0%
2000 31,419 −9.9%
Est. 2008 28,913 −8.0%

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 31,419 people, 13,719 households, and 7,806 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,258.4 people per square mile (872.1/km²). There were 15,706 housing units at an average density of 1,128.9/sq mi (436.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.72% White, 4.99% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.91% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.58% of the population.

There were 13,719 households out of which 23.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.8% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.1% were non-families. 38.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.6% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 24.3% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 21.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 84.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,388, and the median income for a family was $38,708. Males had a median income of $30,750 versus $22,099 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,923. About 13.1% of families and 18.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.3% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.


Under West Virginia law, cities may adopt the Manager-Mayor Plan. The elected mayor presides over meetings of the Wheeling City Council, which has six members elected from geographic wards. City Council members serve four-year terms. The City Council also confirms executive nominations for members to various boards which have limited regulatory authority including the Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Traffic Commission.[10] The City Manager serves as Chief Executive and Administrative officer for the city.[11] The current Mayor of Wheeling is Andy McKenzie, and the current City Manager of Wheeling is Robert Herron. The current members of City Council are Gloria Delbrugge (1st Ward), Vernon Seals (2nd Ward), Robert E. "Herk" Henry (3rd Ward), James Tiu (4th Ward), Don Atkinson (5th Ward), and Vice-Mayor Eugene Fahey (6th Ward)[10]. City elections were held on May 13, 2008, and the current term began on July 1, 2008. City elections will be held again in 2012.


West Virginia Independence Hall
Different architectural styles, including Italianate, make up these townhouses in Wheeling.

Historical Buildings

The city of Wheeling has a rich and varied history. West Virginia Independence Hall was the site of the Wheeling Convention From 1861–1863, the building housed heated debates on the Virginia Ordinance of Secession, the First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia,[12] and naming the State.[13] Recently, Governor Joe Manchin announced a plan to divert $1 million in state funding to Independence Hall for renovations.[14]

Wheeling is home to Centre Market, formerly Wheeling's market house. Built in 1853,[15] the market house and the surrounding area are today home to shops and restaurants.

Parks and Recreation

Wheeling features several municipal parks including Oglebay Resort & Conference Center and Wheeling Park. Ohio County is also home to six golf courses including designs by renowned golfer Arnold Palmer and architect Robert Trent Jones. The Wheeling Suspension Bridge, which was once the longest suspension bridge in the world, connects downtown Wheeling to Wheeling Island.

In October 2007 the City of Wheeling opened the State's first concrete skateboard park. The 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) facility was designed and built by world-renowned skatepark builder, Grindline, of Seattle, Washington. The park consists of 60% bowls and 40% street elements and is located within the Chambers Ballfield Complex in the Elm Grove section of the City. An addition to the street section of the park was completed by Grindline in November 2009 and a covered shelter, restrooms, and webcam are scheduled to be installed in early 2010. The park is lighted and open 24/7.


West Virginia Northern Community College


As elsewhere in West Virginia, K–12 schools are organized at the county level of government. The public school system, Ohio County Schools, consists of 14 schools. There are nine elementary schools, four middle schools, and Wheeling Park High School. There also exist several parochial and private schools including Wheeling Central Catholic High School, and the Linsly School.

Colleges and Universities

Wheeling is the hub of higher education in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Wheeling Jesuit University, a private Jesuit university and the only Catholic college in the state of West Virginia[16] is located in Wheeling. The main campus of West Virginia Northern Community College has recently been expanding throughout downtown Wheeling and focuses on job training and community development. Also located within close proximity to the city are West Liberty University(formerly West Liberty State College), a four-year university, and private Bethany College, giving area residents a wide variety of educational options.



Wheeling has an old-style theater, the Capitol Music Hall. The Music Hall, opened in 1928, featured a 2,450 seat auditorium. The Music Hall was home to a popular radio program in the early forties, It's Wheeling Steel, featuring musical performances by workers at a local steel plant. The Capitol Music Hall also featured country artists such as Johnny Cash, June Carter-Cash, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, and the Joneses. Currently, the Capitol Music Hall welcomes musical performances of all types. It is, once again, the performance hall of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra having returned on September 25, 2009. It has also served as the home for Jamboree USA. The Capitol Music Hall is the largest theatre in the state of West Virginia, with some 2,500 seats. The Capitol Music Hall was sold by Clear Channel Communications to LiveNation in the Spring of 2005. After LiveNation purchased the Capitol Music Hall, it remained largely dormant although a few limited engagements were held. Moreover, in August 2007, the Capitol Music Hall was closed due to several fire and building code violations. On February 5, 2009, the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) announced that it would purchase the Capitol Music Hall from Live Nation at a cost of $615,000. The purchase was finalized on April 3, 2009. [4]

Wheeling is also home to the Victoria Theater, which is the oldest theater in West Virginia. The Victoria is a 700 seat Victorian style theater. It served as home to the WWVA Jamboree program from 1933–1936, and is now home to the "Wheeling Jamboree", a local initiative started in 2009 and modeled after the original WWVA Jamboree (which changed its name in the 1960s to Jamboree U.S.A.). The original WWVA Jamboree ran from 1933–2007, making it the second longest running country radio program and a variety show in the country after the Grand Ole Opry.

Held in nearby Belmont County Jamboree In The Hills draws over 100,000 country music fans to the Wheeling area every July.

During the summer months the Wheeling Heritage Port is the home to numerous festivals, concerts, movie nights, celebrations, a regatta and numerous visits from the Delta, Mississippi and American Queens. It holds over 8,000 spectators and has become a focal point to the City.


Fans of theater have several options in Wheeling. The Capitol Theatre hosts numerous broadway performances. In addition, the Oglebay Institute's Towngate Theatre in Center Wheeling has, for over 35 years, produced and shown plays [17]. Located across the street is the Independent Theatre Collective, which performs at the former Second Presbyterian Church [18].


Wheeling is also home to the Wheeling Nailers hockey team. The Nailers play in the WesBanco Arena (formerly the Wheeling Civic Center), and participate in the North division, American Conference of the ECHL. High school football and soccer are played at Wheeling Island Stadium. Formerly home to the Ohio Valley Greyhounds, Wheeling became home to a second team in 2009.[19] The team, known as the Wheeling Wildcats, played in the Continental Indoor Football League but folded after the 2009 season.[20]

Live Racing and Gaming

Wheeling is the home of Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack located on Wheeling Island. Formerly known as Wheeling Downs, the facility features live greyhound racing, slots, poker games, and casino-style table games.

Table Gaming

In accordance with House Bill 271 adopted on March 8, 2007, Ohio County and Jefferson County held special elections on June 9, 2007, to approve the legalization of table games within the respective counties. The Ohio County measure passed, but the Jefferson County one failed. A similar measure was successfully adopted in Hancock County on June 30, 2007.[21]


The Fort Henry Bridge carries I-70, US 40, and US 250 across the Ohio River, Wheeling, West Virginia

Due to its close proximity to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wheeling is heavily influenced by Pittsburgh's broadcast media outlets, which are easily received in the area. Besides broadcast stations Wheeling's cable providers also carry Fox Sports Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh-centric news/talk channel PCNC as its "home" sports and information sources.

In addition to the Pittsburgh outlets the Wheeling television market is served by CBS affiliate WTRF-TV Channel 7, PBS affiliate W41AA Channel 41, and NBC affiliate WTOV-TV Channel 9 in nearby Steubenville, Ohio. The city is served by cable television provider Comcast and parts of the city are also served by Centre TV.

Wheeling's radio dial is home to WWVA 1170 AM, the state's only 50,000 watt AM station that can be heard throughout the East Coast at night. WVLY 1370 AM and WKKX 1600 AM provide local news, sports, and talk. On the FM dial WVKF 95.7, WKWK 97.3, WOVK 98.7 and WEGW 107.5 provides the area with various music genres. The Wheeling area is also the home of WVJW-LP, a listener supported commercial-free station which also serves as the local Pacifica affiliate. Pittsburgh's radio stations also provide Wheeling with coverage. A number of translators and repeater stations provide NPR and American Family Radio networks.

The city is home to The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register newspapers. Both The Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register are owned by Ogden Newspapers Inc., which is also based in Wheeling. The Intelligencer is published weekday mornings and Saturdays, while the News-Register is published weekday afternoons and Sundays. The Times-Leader of Martins Ferry, Ohio, another Ogden Newspapers Inc. paper, also covers Wheeling issues. In Wheeling magazine is published quarterly and covers society and events in Wheeling.[22]



Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Roads and bridges

Interstate 70 and its spur I-470 run through the city east-west and link it with suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the east and Ohio to the west. U.S. Route 40/National Road links downtown with residential neighborhoods to the east. WV Route 2 connects Wheeling with Moundsville to the south and Weirton to the north. U.S. Route 250 also runs through the city.

The Fort Henry Bridge and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge carry I-70 and I-470 respectively over the Ohio River. The historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge, ca. 1849, which was part of National Road (see early pic.), now carries cars and light trucks as well as pedestrian traffic between downtown and Wheeling Island.

Bus transportation

Bus transportation to points throughout North America is available from Wheeling through Greyhound Lines. The bus terminal, the Robert C. Byrd Intermodal Transportation Center, was built with $11.1 million in federal funds.[23]

Regional transportation through West Virginia and Eastern Ohio is provided by the East Ohio and Ohio Valley Regional Transit Authorities.[24]

Air transportation

Wheeling is less than an hour's drive away from the Pittsburgh International Airport, which provides most of the domestic non-stop service for the Tri-State area. The city is also served by The Ohio County Airport, a general aviations port accommodating most moderate sized aircraft. The Airport is also home to a division of the U.S. Airforce, a helicopter base. The airport also has a small aviations museum.

Companies based in Wheeling

People from Wheeling

Wheeling in fiction

  • Wheeling is referred to in Bat Boy: The Musical as the nearest large town to Hope Falls, where the story takes place. It is also the home of the mysterious 'Institute', representatives of which come to capture the protagonist in the show's finale just moments too late.
  • Wheeling is referred to in an episode of The Waltons, called "The Deed", set in and around Schuyler, Virginia, when Richard Thomas' character "John Boy" travels 335 miles (539 km) to the 'Big City' of Wheeling in 1934 (during the Great Depression) to help raise $200 for his family to gain a deed to prove ownership of their mountain property. During his stay, John Boy rooms at a boarding house on Market Street.
  • Wheeling is referred to in an episode of the sitcom Family Ties, set in Columbus, Ohio, when Michael J. Fox's character Alex P. Keaton says, "let's go down to Wheeling, West Virginia," because the legal drinking age in West Virginia at the time was eighteen, while in Ohio the drinking age had been raised to twenty-one.
  • Billy Joel's hit song "The Ballad of Billy the Kid" identifies the birthplace of the ballad's antagonist as Wheeling.
  • In Season 2 of The West Wing, the episode "In This White House" names Wheeling as a location where two would-be assassins purchased firearms in their mission to kill the show's President, Josiah Bartlett. NBC later apologized for the reference and agreed to make two other mentions of Wheeling in a more positive light. One included a reference as a flyover location in a scene set on Air Force One.
  • John Corbett's character, Chris Stevens (Chris in the Morning), in Northern Exposure is from Wheeling. John Corbett is from Wheeling in real life, and would often briefly mention something about Wheeling on the show. "Uncle Roy Bauer", "Chuck Vincent" and "Earl P. Duffy" are character names Chris Stevens refers to on Northern Exposure. They also happen to be real people Corbett grew up with. Roy Bauer was a high school friend, Earl P. Duffy was the Dean of Discipline at Wheeling Central Catholic High School (the school Corbett attended).
  • "Life in the Iron Mills", a short story by Rebecca Harding Davis, was set in the factory world of nineteenth century Wheeling, Virginia, now Wheeling, West Virginia. It was her first published work, and it appeared anonymously in April 1861 in the Atlantic Monthly where it caused a literary sensation with its powerful naturalism that anticipated the work of Theodore Dreiser and Emile Zola. The story is emphatically on the side of the exploited industrial workers, who are presented as physically stunted and mentally dulled but fully human and capable of tragedy.
  • Whatever is a 1998 independent film, shot mostly in Wheeling, about teenagers facing the difficulties of growing up in Northern New Jersey.
  • A West Virginia–centric episode of Murder, She Wrote, "Coal Miner's Slaughter", has Megan Mulally's character passing the bar exam in Wheeling.
  • Wheeling, West Virginia was a hit song for Neil Sedaka in 1970. The song tells of an actor from Wheeling who works at MGM and has changed not for the better from the person who grew up there. The song was recorded in the Sydney, Australia suburb of Pyrmont. What is now the IGA Supermarket was previously the recording studios & offices of Festival Records. Some of the artist who recorded there include Normie Rowe, Billy Thorpe, Kylie Minogue, The Bee Gees, Ray Brown & The Whispers, Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays, Jimmy Little, Noelene Batley, Mike Furber, Olivia Newton-John, The Dave Miller Set, Johnny Young, Wild Cherries and Jeff St John.

See also

Further reading

  • Minder, Mike. Wheeling’s Gambling History to 1976. Wheeling: Nail City Publishing, 1997.
  • Schramm, Robert W. The Linsly School. Mount Pleasant, S. Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2003.


  1. ^ Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007 (CBSA-EST2007-01): 2007 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ Table 4: Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in West Virginia, Listed Alphabetically: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007. 2008-07-10. Retrieved 2008-07-10
  6. ^ Jack M. Weatherford (1991) "Native Roots: How the Indians Enriched America", p. 263, ISBN 0-449-90713-9
  7. ^ Sullivan, Ken, ed (2006) [2006]. The West Virginia Encyclopedia. West Virginia Humanities Council. ISBN 0-9778498-0-5. 
  8. ^ a b Cranmer, Hon. Gibson Lamb., ed (1902) [1902]. History of Wheeling City and Ohio County, West Virginia and Representative Citizens. Chicago: Biographical Publishing Company. 
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  10. ^ a b City of Wheeling, West Virginia
  11. ^ City of Wheeling, West Virginia
  12. ^ First Constitutional Convention of West Virginia
  13. ^ The Naming of West Virginia
  14. ^
  15. ^ Waterson, Steve. "Reopening of Centre Market today." Wheeling Intelligencer 18 May 1989 13 Apr 2008 [1].
  16. ^ "The Value of a Jesuit education." Wheeling Jesuit University. 13 Apr 2008 [2].
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Hughes, Mike. "Indoor Football Returning to Wheeling." Wheeling Intelligencer 15 Mar 2008 13 Apr 2008 [3].
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ In Wheeling Magazine. IN Publishing, LLC. 27 Dec 2008 <>.
  23. ^ "Byrd Bucks Brought to W.VA.." Wheeling Intelligencer 29 Nov 2008 9 Jan 2009 <>.
  24. ^ "Getting Around." The City of Wheeling, West Virginia. 2009. Wheeling, WV. 9 Jan 2009 <>.
  25. ^ Reichler, Joseph L., ed (1979) [1969]. The Baseball Encyclopedia (4th edition ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-578970-8. 

External links

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