About Western Monongalia County
Monongalia County in West Virginia has a land mass of 366 square miles and shares its northern border with Pennsylvania. That border is part of the Mason-Dixon line, which was drawn in 1767 to settle a border dispute between the bordering states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and what was, at the time, Virginia. West Virginia seceded from Virginia and became a state in 1863.
Morgantown, the county seat, lies in the eastern part of the county and is home to West Virginia University, one of the state’s land-grant universities. The university and its research ventures, as well as sports teams, dominate news coverage in the county. It is the third largest city in West Virginia and can be considered a sort of hub for the county’s western residents. It has been widely profiled in the media for being recession proof, and during the great recession, when the country’s unemployment rate was 10%, Morgantown’s was only 4.8%. The county’s only two interstate highways, arteries to the rest of the country, cross through in Morgantown. Yet more than half of the county’s 106,196 people live outside of Morgantown and its suburbs.
The western portion of Monongalia County provides provides a stark contrast to the county seat. It is predominantly rural and accessed by rural routes and two-lane highways and roads. Many of the communities are unincorporated towns like Osage, Wadestown, Wana, Everettville and Core, where groups of people live with no independent government structure, and the municipal services are those of the closest incorporated towns or the county itself. The area’s history and employment have been linked to coal mining, and as the industry has declined, the communities have struggled.
In this area of the county, resources are scarce due to the distance from larger cities. The towns have Dollar General stores, gas stations and convenience stores for some food and other basic necessities. The closest full-size grocery stores are back in Morgantown, and the bus system travels from Morgantown out to the western edge of the county only twice a day. Food pantries provide food and clothing to the residents who are in need. The county’s two main hospitals are located in Morgantown, but there are urgent care centers like Health Right and the Clay-Battelle Health Services Association in Blacksville.
Blacksville is one of the larger towns in western Monongalia County and is home to Clay-Battelle Middle and Senior High School. The school serves about 404 students and one of its buses is smaller and equipped with four wheel drive to accommodate the steep and narrow country roads and transport students living in the most remote areas. The school and its activities act as a social hub for western county residents, especially those who live in Blacksville. When media attention falls on this part of the county, it is often for the success of the school’s athletic teams, though significant coverage came to Blacksville in the fall of 2021, when one of the county’s last active coal mines closed.
West Virginia overall is a red state, and this holds true for the political leanings of most of the residents of Monongalia County. Residents of the region identify faith in God as an important part of the community.
Limited mobile service and internet connection mean the most dependable way to reach residents is by finding them around town or knocking on their front doors.