Charleston, WV, is a city that is steeped in history. From its early days as a small frontier settlement to its more recent past as a bustling coal center, Charleston has played a significant role in the development of West Virginia and the United States as a whole. Here are seven historical events that have taken place near Charleston that have helped to shape the city and the state.
1. The Battle of Charleston
The Battle of Charleston took place on September 13, 1862, during the Civil War. The Confederate troops led by General John Floyd were attempting to stop the Union army's push into the Kanawha Valley. The Union forces, commanded by General John Rosecrans, launched a surprise attack on the Confederate troops and were able to drive them out of the city. The Union victory at the Battle of Charleston helped to secure control of the Kanawha Valley for the Union army.
2. The West Virginia State Capitol Construction
Construction of the West Virginia State Capitol began in 1924 and was completed in 1932. The building is a stunning example of Beaux-Arts architecture and is the centerpiece of downtown Charleston. The capitol dome is 292 feet tall and is covered in 23.5 karat gold leaf.
3. The Kanawha County Textbook Controversy
The Kanawha County Textbook Controversy of 1974 was a highly contentious debate over the adoption of new textbooks in the Kanawha County school system. The controversy was sparked by the introduction of books that had been deemed by some parents as anti-Christian and anti-American. The controversy led to protests, boycotts, and even bombings in the area.
4. The Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster
On April 5, 2012, an explosion occurred at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, WV, killing 29 miners. The explosion was the deadliest U.S. mining disaster in 40 years and brought attention to the unsafe working conditions in many of the country's coal mines.
5. The 2016 Floods
In June 2016, historic floods hit the state of West Virginia, including the Charleston area. The floods caused significant damage and loss of life, with 23 people losing their lives in the disaster.
6. The Death of Pearl S. Buck
Pearl S. Buck, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and social activist, died on March 6, 1973, at her home in Danby, Vermont. Buck had been born in Hillsboro, WV, and had returned to West Virginia several times throughout her life.
7. The Bridge Collapse at Silver Bridge
The Silver Bridge, which connected Point Pleasant, WV, to Gallipolis, Ohio, collapsed on December 15, 1967, killing 46 people. The disaster was caused by a failure of the suspension chain due to a stress fracture. The collapse resulted in stricter inspections and regulations for all bridges in the United States.
In conclusion, Charleston, WV, has played a role in some significant historical events that have affected both the city and the state. From Civil War battles and mining disasters to urban flooding and bridge collapses, the area has seen its share of tragedy and triumph. These events have helped to shape the region's culture, politics, and economy, and continue to influence the area's people today.
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